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IBM 360(?) Operators Panel (Found in Attic)

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    IBM 360(?) Operators Panel (Found in Attic)

    Hey! Soo.. interesting story- My Father-in-law, for many years used to talk about an IBM computer that he saved from being scrapped in the late 60's-early 70's. He said that he stashed it away in the attic with hopes to one day have it rewired to have the light son the panel flash as if operational and hang on his wall. He said that he spent hundreds of hours in front of that panel and couldn't imagine it being trashed.

    Many, many years later and after his passing, I've found it!

    I'm here asking for a little advice.. What should I do with it now??

    I'm a car guy.. not a computer guy. My concern is that if I move forward and have the panel modified and changed over to LED to make creative "art", that I may be destroying something of value and history. (I attribute it to a non-car lover painting a 60's classic at Maaco for $199)

    Any advice is valued.. Have fun with it or leave it be? Does it have some inherent value? Not sure I'm interested in selling it, rather just hold on to or display or is there something I'm not thinking about??

    Pics below.


    Looks like the panel to an IBM System/360 model 50. You can probably flog it for a few kilobucks; either through a standard auction house or ebay. There will be plenty of interest. Leave it the way it is. If you modify it, you'll end up decreasing its collector's value.
    Reach me: vcfblackhole _at_ protonmail dot com.


      I am with Chuck. One of the few things that is pretty much "rare and valuable". If you mess you will lower the value. Personally I would go with a specialist auction house rather than E-Bay,
      Make sure you then advertise the auction here, as many Facebook groups as will let you, the ccmail vintage list, reditt, and anywhere else you can find.

      Looking for Analog Computers, Drum Plotters, and Graphics Terminals.


        It looks in really great condition. I envy how complete and unscratched yours is, I could use some of those button inserts myself. Unless you plan a FPGA running a Model 50 and the massive amount of work that entails, I suggest don't modify it, putting christmas tree lights in it or blinking LEDs may not go down well with future collectors and I doubt it will improve value.
        Fix it solidly to the wall of your study or wherever (at the correct console height from the floor, see the Physical Planning Guide) and (I can guarantee) it will remind you of your father-in-law every time you glance at it.
        The planning guide has the dimensions for the Model 50 console table which you can cut to size from a white laminex tabletop.
        Also keep a lookout on eBay for a 26" wide System 360 masthead to go with it, if you don't have one. Oh, and the iconic midcentury Eames PSCC-4 shell chair (there are replicas that are an order of magnitude cheaper than originals).


          Just curious, are those neon lights or incandescent? If incandescent wonder what voltage? If they were neon or some other gas discharge can see whipping up something using 74141 or the like for the HV use or if DC maybe just using 4066 for a lower voltage to drive the lights.
          The key is finding a mating connector and that way you can have something that’s fun but pointless like a huge binary clock. Enough rows to do seconds, minutes, hours and day of the year.


            Originally posted by Qbus View Post
            Just curious, are those neon lights or incandescent? If incandescent wonder what voltage? If they were neon or some other gas discharge can see whipping up something using 74141 or the like for the HV use or if DC maybe just using 4066 for a lower voltage to drive the lights.
            The key is finding a mating connector and that way you can have something that’s fun but pointless like a huge binary clock. Enough rows to do seconds, minutes, hours and day of the year.
            I assume incandescent, Several folks drive them from FPGA ....

            Last edited by g4ugm; March 11, 2021, 10:52 AM. Reason: add youtube link

            Looking for Analog Computers, Drum Plotters, and Graphics Terminals.


              The lamps are incandescent and made for IBM; very hard to find NOS. Connectors are likely also IBM-unique.

              Panel looks very much like the one CuriousMarc discusses in his video
              Reach me: vcfblackhole _at_ protonmail dot com.


                SUPER helpful and I appreciate everyone's feedback. My father is a computer guy and he's the one that suggested that he could change it over to LED and like mentioned, program the lights to flash in a similar fashion as they would have when working. (He also was an operator back in the day). He also was the one who suggested that maybe it's best to leave it alone.

                For a frame of reference and understanding that its only worth what someone will pay, if it was modded, are we talking about reducing the value of a $500 piece? Or a $1,000? Meaning, it sounds like it's in good condition and pretty complete.. does it deserve to be somewhere versus on my wall in my bar? If it's a $500 item, it's an amazing piece of art that will stay in the family. If it's odd or rare enough, it may be better elsewhere. Donate it?

                Thanks again y'all! I am enjoying that it is in fact, a cool piece for others to see.



                  Hi Ken.

                  Very likely it would sell for well over $1,000, perhaps 2K or more. Definitely not $500.



                    Hi Ken

                    You could build some interface electronics and drive the existing incandescent lamps and retain the current wiring, preserving the value of the panel. Happy to chat with you about what is required. IBM used roughly 7VAC to light the lamps, through an SCR for each lamp position and triggered by either +3V or 0V through a resistor in the range of 6.8K. Lamp test, which lights all bulbs simultaneously, is accomplished by delivering +3V to the lamp test line.



                      I don't have money for it - but in my opinion - You shouldn't try to make it looking like Art, modern LED/LCD monitor, or just pimp by paint. It is worth more in original look. The only(in my opinion) reasonable thing is to make something like IBM 360 interface for emulator, and preserve as much as possible. This is quite rare, these computers were very costly at time of the production, and probably most people with even small interest in "big" computers would like to have it in collection, if they have money, and space.


                        Should you decide to donate it, this museum in Endicott NY, the original home of IBM, would no doubt be very happy to have it on display. They have a number of significant IBM computers and is the present home of the original IBM museum which was located here in Endicott, when they once employed 15,000 i 4 plants in the area. Volunteers there have restored a number of machines, including a 360/30.



                          Wow, that's an amazing piece of history you have there! Personally, I wouldn't even consider selling that for less than $5000 and it could be worth more than that to the right buyer. This is an extremely rare item.
                          Last edited by Exceter; June 20, 2021, 06:45 PM.
                          Once upon a time, the internet sucked because it came through the phone. Now the phone sucks because it comes through the internet.


                            Super feedback from all! As an update- The panel is tucked away for now and I think I'll leave it as it stands. We're in no rush to sell but may leverage it in the future if my MIL decides that any money generated is better than keeping it stored away. I think we would all feel great if it goes to the right, new home at some point.

                            Thanks again for super feedback and advice!


                              That note next to the emergency pull is hilarious!