Early Computers at Stanford

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<p>From December of 1965 until 1973 an IBM System/360 model 50 <p>From December of 1965 until 1973 an IBM System/360 model 50
was the principal computer of was the principal computer of
-<a href="http://infolab.stanford.edu/pub/voy/museum/pictures/ACME.html">+[http://infolab.stanford.edu/pub/voy/museum/pictures/ACME.html ACME].
It had 131,072 8-bit bytes of memory plus an extension that provided 1,048,576 It had 131,072 8-bit bytes of memory plus an extension that provided 1,048,576
(later 2,097,152) additional bytes of lower-speed memory. This system (later 2,097,152) additional bytes of lower-speed memory. This system
had an had an
-<a href=" http://www.columbia.edu/acis/history/datacell.html">IBM 2321</a>+[http://www.columbia.edu/acis/history/datacell.html IBM 2321]
- +
data cell drive, holding tape strips, giving the huge capacity data cell drive, holding tape strips, giving the huge capacity
(for the time) of (for the time) of
-<a href="http://www-03.ibm.com/ibm/history/exhibits/storage/storage_2321.html">+[http://www-03.ibm.com/ibm/history/exhibits/storage/storage_2321.html about 400,000,000 8-bit bytes].
-about 400,000,000 8-bit bytes</a>. This device was famous+This device was famous for its
-for its +[http://www.civeng.carleton.ca/ECL/reports/ECL186/ecl186a.htm unreliability].
-<a href="http://www.civeng.carleton.ca/ECL/reports/ECL186/ecl186a.htm">unreliability.</a>+
</p> </p>
<p>The model 50 <p>The model 50
-also had four <a href="http://www.columbia.edu/acis/history/2311.html">IBM+also had four [http://www.columbia.edu/acis/history/2311.html IBM 2311]
-2311</a> disk drives, at about 7,250,000 8-bit bytes each, +disk drives, at about 7,250,000 8-bit bytes each, later replaced by an 8-drive
-later replaced by an 8-drive +[http://www-03.ibm.com/ibm/history/exhibits/storage/storage_2314.html IBM 2314],
-<a href="http://www-03.ibm.com/ibm/history/exhibits/storage/storage_2314.html">IBM +with 29,176,000 8-bit bytes per drive.</P>
-2314</a>, with 29,176,000 8-bit bytes per drive.</P>+
<P>The computer was programmed in a subset of PL/I and offered <P>The computer was programmed in a subset of PL/I and offered
-timesharing. See also+timesharing. See also [http://infolab.stanford.edu/pub/voy/museum/pictures/IBM.html]
- +
-<a href="http://infolab.stanford.edu/pub/voy/museum/pictures/IBM.html">+
</p> </p>

Revision as of 13:13, 31 July 2008

Created 15 August 1997, last updated July 2, 2008.

This is part of information collected for the Computer History Exhibits.

Please send corrections and updates to Gio Wiederhold, email <gio@cs.stanford.edu> and to John Sauter <John_Sauter at systemeyescomputerstore.com>. The intent is to list all computers at Stanford up to about 1980, when personal computers became ubiquitous and uncountable. Some major, later equipment can be included.


Electronics Lab (1953 to 1962)


In March of 1953 an IBM CPC arrived at the Electronics Lab. The CPC was composed of three IBM machines that had been made to work together: an IBM 604 or 605 calculating punch, an accounting machine (one of the IBM 400-series) and an IBM 941 auxiliary storage unit which held 16 10-digit signed numbers. Though marketed by IBM, the CPC was actually invented by Northrop Aviation in 1948 for use in flight simulations and for other engineering work.

Although it used vacuum tubes, the IBM CPC was not a stored-program computer in the modern sense. It was programmable at three levels:

  1. The data paths between storage units in the accounting machine and the auxiliary storage units
  2. The electronic calculator in the IBM 604 or 605 could be micro-programmed using a plugboard in that unit, and
  3. The overall operation of the machine could be programmed using 80-column punch cards, each of which could perform two operations between three pieces of addressed data and store the result in the location specified in the fourth address. Cards were read at a rate of 100 cards per minute.

The IBM CPC was normally configured to do floating-point calculations.

Stanford's IBM CPC was retired in 1956. See [1].

We have been unable to locate anyone with personal memory of this computer, but there was also an IBM CPC at Cornell. In addition, Les Earnest used one from 1954 to 1956 in the Navy at the Aeronautical Computer lab in suburban Philadelphia, PA. It was from this experience that Les contributed much of the description above.

IBM 650

The first stored-program computer at the Electronics Lab was an IBM 650. It arrived in January of 1956 and was retired around 1962. This was a drum computer, meaning that the program and data resided on a rotating magnetic drum, rather than in random access memory (RAM) as used by later computers. The drum held 2000 10-digit words. An add instruction required 400 microseconds, and a multiply 10,000. The IBM 650, like the IBM 604, used vacuum tubes. Later versions of the IBM 650 had 60 words of core memory. They were intended to be used as an I/O buffer, but could also be used for instructions. Here is a video showing an IBM 650 in use.

The IEEE Annals of the History of Computing has an article about the use of Stanford's IBM 650 in 1959 for computer dating: C. Stewart Gillmor, “Stanford, the IBM 650, and the First Trials of Computer Date Matching,” IEEE Annals of the History of Computing, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 74-80, Jan-Mar, 2007. See also Computers in Love: Date Matching at Stanford from the Stanford Historical Society publication “Sandstone & Tile”, Summer/Fall 2002.

Encina Hall (1961 to about 1965)

Burroughs Datatron B220

There was a Burroughs Datatron B220 at Encina Hall starting in June of 1960. This was a vacuum-tube computer with 10,000 44-bit words of core, each containing 10 decimal digits. Core memory was a new technology, replacing drum memory with magnetic cores. This was called Random-Access Memory (RAM) because you could access any word of memory in the same time as any other word.

The add instruction executed in 185 microseconds and multiply in about 2095. The B220 was shared with the First National Bank of San Jose, which used it for overnight check processing. An article In Datamation 7(12) dated December 1961 includes remarks by Professor George Forsythe about Balgol use at Stanford. We have not been able to find this article on-line, but the History of Programming Languages project has preserved an extract. Click on "Extract BALGOL" on the BALGOL page.

John Sauter remembers seeing the computer in the mid-1960s, but we do not have a date for its retirement. The computer was programmed in Balgol, the Burroughs dialect of Algol-60.

Pine Hall (1961 to 1980)

Pine Hall was Stanford's “Computation Center” in the 1960s. The December 1961 issue of Datamation Magazine has articles describing the Stanford Computer Science Department as Pine Hall was opening. We have not been able to find this issue of Datamation on-line, but the History of Programming Languages project has preserved several of the articles. From the SUBALGOL page, click on “Extract: Balgol” and “Extract: Cutting Edge Computing at Stanford”.

Card Handling

The IBM 7090, the Burroughs B5000/B5500 and their successor, the IBM System/360 model 67, all described below, were batch-processing mainframes which read jobs from 80-column punch cards. To facilitate the preparation of card decks, there were several keypunches in Pine Hall. These keypunches were mostly IBM 026s, modified to include the additional characters used for Algol on the Burroughs B5000. We have been unable to find a record of the modifications made to the keypunches, or the resulting character set, but such custom keypunches were quite common at that time. Here is a video of an IBM 026 being demonstrated.

In addition to the keypunches there was some card-handling equipment known as “Electronic Accounting Machines”, or EAM in Pine Hall: an IBM 557 interpreter, an IBM 80-series card sorter (probably an IBM 083), an IBM 519 card reproducer and an IBM 407 printer with a card reader. The modified IBM 026 keypunches would print an image of each character at the top of the card, but the IBM 519 did not print, so it was customary to run a duplicated card deck through the IBM 557, which would print the first 60 columns at the top of each card in its first pass, and optionally print the remainder of the columns lower on the card on a second pass.

The IBM 407 was used to print a program's source code on paper. John Sauter remembers a story about economics of the IBM 407. It seems that IBM formerly manufactured two version of the machine, one that ran at 100 cards per minute and another that ran at 150 cards per minute. IBM sold the slower machine at a lower price than the faster machine, of course. However, IBM's internal analysis determined that the profit of having two assembly lines, for two different printers, was lower than the profit of having just one assembly line, even though some of the machines would be sold at the lower price.

To avoid having all of the machines sell at the lower price, IBM modified the low-price machine so that it skipped every third cycle, thus slowing it from 150 to 100 cards per minute. There was a simple modification to reverse this change, but we were forbidden to make it, since if IBM discovered it they would charge us to “fix” the 407.

Pictures of early data processing equipment

These pictures were taken in a museum in Germany. Click on the link following a picture for a larger image.

IMG_1671small.jpg typewriter

IMG_1677small.jpg tabulating machines

IMG_1678small.jpg early egonometric card punch

IMG_1700small.jpg IBM 519

IMG_1705small.jpg IBM 602 interior

IMG_1706small.jpg IBM 602

IMG_1764small.jpg desk calculator

IBM 7090

The IBM 7090 was a fully transistor-based, room-size computer, with 32,768 36-bit words of core memory and a 2.18 microsecond cycle time. It performed an add instructon in 4.8 microseconds, and a multiply in typically 25 microseconds.

Vistors to Pine Hall could see the IBM 7090 through through a glass wall. Nearest the observer was the console, from which the operator could observe the machine's internal registers. At the back of the room was an IBM 1401, which provided card-to-tape and tape-to-print and -card punch services for the IBM 7090, which was therefore able to read its input from and write its output to magnetic tape. The two machines shared two rows of IBM 729 IV magnetic tape drives. Here is a video of a restored IBM 1401 in use.

The IBM 7090 was installed before May of 1963, perhaps in 1961, and retired in May of 1967. In its early years it was also used by IBM San Jose. In its later years it acquired an IBM 1301 disk, which it shared with the nearby DEC PDP-1, and a CDC 8090 was added to augment the IBM 1401.

A notable improvement in productivity was achieved when Stanford programmer Don Gold was able to make the IBM 1401 copy simultaneously from card reader to tape and from tape to printer and card punch. Previously, the IBM 1401 could copy in only one direction at a time.

The IBM 7090 provided general computer service to campus users, including the Artificial Intelligence project (Lisp and Chess). Classes were offered in programming the IBM 7090. The machine ran IBM's Fortran Monitor System, which automatically loaded the next job from magnetic tape when the previous one finished. In addition to Fortran and the FAP assembler, the IBM 7090 was programmed in SUBAlgol, the Stanford dialect of Balgol, which was the Burroughs dialect of Algol-60.

Burroughs B5000/B5500

The Burroughs B5000 was another fully-transistorized, room-size computer, installed in the room to the right of the IBM 7090 from the point of view of the observer looking through the glass wall.

This machine was based on advanced computer concepts for its day, as contrasted with the IBM 7090, which stressed compatibility with earlier IBM computers. It was installed before May of 1963, perhaps in 1961, and retired in 1968. It was upgraded to a Burroughs B5500, which ran at three times the speed of the B5000 and offered a second CPU. Due to software limitations, the second CPU could only execute in user-mode; an attempt to enter the operating system would cause it to signal the main CPU for attention.

The B5000 had 16,384 48-bit words of memory. It was programmed in Algol-60 with extensions for I/O and string processing. Late in its life the B5500 switched off its drum storage and used disks instead.

The Burroughs computer provided general computation service to the campus, including classes on Algol-60 and validation of Algol programs submitted for publication as algorithms.

John Ehrman remembers that until late 1966 there was a dial-up link from SLAC for submitting and retrieving B5500 jobs.


The PDP-1 was to the left of the IBM 7090, but was not visible to observers, lacking a glass wall. This was a much smaller-scale computer than the IBM 7090, used for research in computer-based learning, artificial intelligence, and games. A time-sharing system was developed for the PDP-1, formally named the Stanford Time Sharing System, though it also went by the names Zeus and Odin. Time sharing allowed people at separate consoles to use the PDP-1 simultaneously, a great increase in productivity.

The PDP-1 arrived sometime before May of 1963. Early in its life it was upgraded from 4,096 18-bit words to 65,536. When the IBM 7090 acquired its IBM 1301 disk drive, the PDP-1 was interfaced to it through the IBM 7631 file control. The PDP-1 was also interfaced directly to the IBM 7090, and could submit jobs to it using the Bifrost software. This interface was also used to visualize IBM 7090 data in real time using the PDP-1's Type 30 CRT display. See [2] for an example. When the PDP-1 was retired, probably in 1966 or 1967, its Type 30 display was moved to the DEC PDP-6 at the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab.

In support of its time-sharing mission the PDP-1 was equipped with a high-speed magnetic drum, which could write 4,096 words of memory onto a track in one revolution, and simultaneously read 4,096 words from a different track and write them into those same memory locations. This was called “swapping”.

The PDP-1 also had twelve CRT displays built by Philco, affectionately called “flickos”. These terminals, combined with the drum and the time-sharing software, made the Stanford PDP-1 the first display-oriented time-sharing system anywhere in the world. It was used for a number of years for computer-aided instruction by Professor Patrick Suppes and his group.

At the beginning of his Computers and Education article on Computer-based mathematics instruction Professor Suppes describes the Stanford PDP-1.

John Sauter remembers a regrettable incident in which a failure in one of the displays caused a loud noise, severely frightening the child who was seated at it. John never learned how this traumatic experience affected the child's ability to deal with computers later in his life.

IBM System/360 model 67

In May of 1967 an IBM System/360 model 67 replaced the IBM 7090, Burroughs B5500 and DEC PDP-1 in Pine Hall. There is some question about whether this machine was a model 65 or model 67, but John Sauter remembers seeing the lights of the “Blaauw Box”, the dynamic address translation module that is the difference between the models. Also, Glen Herrmannsfeldt and John Ehrman remember that it was always described as a model 67. However, despite the dynamic relocaton capability, the model 67 was run as a model 65 using IBM's OS/360 MFT operating system.

The original development of WYLBUR and ORVYL were done on the model 67. John Sauter remembers a flyer featuring cartoon personages named Wylbur and Orvyl with the caption “My brothers communicate”. MILTEN was used to support remote users equipped with IBM 2741 terminals. SPIRES was also originally written on the model 67. Nicklaus Wirth developed PL360 and Algol W on the model 67; Algol W later evolved into Pascal.

The IBM System/360 model 67 had 524,288 8-bit bytes of memory. It could perform an add in 1.5 microseconds, a multiply in 6.


Mark Crispin and Rich Alderson remember a DECSYSTEM-20, possibly named CONTEXT, at the computer center in the early 1980s. It was supposed to be used for editing and e-mail only.


Mark Crispin remembers that the SCORE DECSYSTEM-20 was originally installed in Pine Hall in 1979 and moved to the Computer Science Department's then-new digs in Margaret Jacks Hall in 1980. There is more information about the computers in Margaret Jacks Hall below.

IBM System/360 model 30

Mark also remembers an IBM System/360 model 30 in Pine Hall at that time. It could perform an add in 29 microseconds, a multiply in 303. It was used for Remote Job Entry to the big IBM iron which was in another building.

High Energy Physics Lab (early 1970s)

The building now known as the Hansen Experimental Physics Lab was known as the High Energy Physics Lab in the early 1970s.

IBM 7700

HEPL had an IBM 7700 with 16,384 36-bit words of memory for data acquisition from experiments. The machine is believed to have been at the lab in the early 1970s. See [3].

Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab (1965 to 1979)

<p>The Stanford Artiticial Intelligence Lab was housed in the former D.C. Power Laboratory beginning in 1965. See [4]

and [5]


The first computer installed at the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab was a DEC <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PDP-6">PDP-6</a>, delivered in <a href=" http://www.stanford.edu/~learnest/sailaway.htm">June of 1966</a>. It had 65,536 36-bit words of core memory and used 8 <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DECtape">Dectape</a> drives for file storage. Later a <a href=" http://infolab.stanford.edu/pub/voy/museum/pictures/display/1-MD-MemDisk2.htm">high-speed Librascope disk</a> was added for swapping. The Librascope could not be used for file storage because it was extremely temperature-sensitive. Les Earnest remembers that a one-degree change in room temperature was enough to make it start forgetting. To make it even reliable enough for swapping required making two copies and checksumming, so it was eventually shut down.

This computer system was primarily used for artificial intelligence research, including the programming languages LISP and SAIL, and for chess and checkers. There were three versions of the “robot arm”, used for research into manipulation.


In 1968 the PDP-6 was augmented by a PDP-10 processor, the KA10, resulting in a dual-processor system. Memory was expanded from 65,536 to 196,608 36-bit words.

Later an IBM 2314 disk array was added for additional data storage. The time-sharing operating system written at SAIL, known as WAITS, was based on the PDP-6 Monitor, provided by Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) rather than the Stanford Time-Sharing System which had been written for the PDP-1.

See [6]

Les Earnest remembers that the first and second spelling checkers for text files were developed at SAIL around 1967 and 1971. The first computer-controlled vending machine anywhere (called The Prancing Pony, from Tolkein's Lord of the Rings, a source of many place names at SAIL) was developed around 1972.

Beginning in 1971 the SAIL computer facility put bit-mapped displays on everyone's desk and was apparently the first facility to do this anywhere in the world. Those displays could also show live television either from cameras in the lab or from broadcast TV. At about this time Les Earnest developed first social networking program, Finger, and it included what amounted to a blog service, see [7].

Mark Crispin remembers that when he arrived in 1977 there were two processors in the PDP-10 system: the KA10 described above and a KL10, the fastest processor in the PDP-10 line. User jobs were run on the KL10 and the KA10 ran the XGP font compiler and user jobs (in “spacewar mode”, formerly the task of the PDP-6 processor).

Les Earnest remembers that the KL10 was a gift from DEC in return for the design concept, since it was based on the Super Foonly computer designed by Dave Poole, Phil Petit and Jack Holloway and was re-engineered by DEC using SUDS, the Stanford University Drawing System, which was the first interactive electronic CAD system and was also developed by the Super Foonly project.

The PDP-6 had by then become a separate computer, though it booted from the PDP-10. It operated the computer music devices. Rich Alderson remembers that it was retired in 1984.

Mark Crispin remembers having been told by Les Earnest that the KA10 was forcibly retired due to a combination of cooling failure and overtemperature sensor failure. Mark purchased the remains as scrap metal from Stanford surplus property and kept some parts as souvenirs.

Margaret Jacks Hall (1979 to 1983)

The Stanford Artificial Intelligence project moved to the basement of Margaret Jacks Hall in 1979.


A DEC PDP-10 with a KL10 processor and 524,288 36-bit words of memory was installed there. This was the SAIL KL10 from the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab.


Mark Crispin remembers that SCORE, a consortium of the Computer Science Department, two Electrical Engineering laboratories and Operations Research, purchased a DECSYSTEM-2050 in 1979. It was first installed in Pine Hall and then moved to Margaret Jacks Hall.


When the Computer Science Department sold its interest in the SCORE system to its partners in 1983, the DECSYSTEM-2050 moved to Electrical Engineering and was renamed SUSHI. The Computer Science Department bought a new DECSYSTEM-2060 which had the first 4-RP07 public file system. Its great size, 887,685,120 36-bit words, astonished DEC Field Service.

Xerox Alto

In 1979 or 1980 16 Xerox Alto workstations were installed in Margaret Jacks Hall along with two servers. Al Kossow remembers that the IFS file server was in the basement, and Les Earnest remembers that the Dover server was on the second floor, near the Computer Science Department's administrative offices. They featured a What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get (WYSIWYG) text editor, but the Smalltalk language was not provided.

Electrical Engineering (1983)


When the Computer Science Department sold its interest in the SCORE system to its partners in 1983, the DECSYSTEM-2050 moved to Electrical Engineering and was renamed SUSHI.


Rich Alderson remembers that there was also a DECSYSTEM-2060 at Electrical Engineering called SIERRA.

Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (1965 to 1981)

SDS Sigma 5

John Ehrman remembers that there was an SDS Sigma 5 in End Station A from at least 1965. It was used for data acquisition and control of the experimental equipment.

IBM System/360 model 50

SLAC ordered an IBM System/360 model 91 from IBM, and as a result received the slower but software-compatible System/360 model 50 in June of 1965. John Ehrman remembers that this machine was arranged by William Miller, who was later Provost of Stanford. The model 50 had 262,144 8-bit bytes of memory, and could perform an add in 4 microseconds, a multiply in 16. John Ehrman remembers that it initially ran TOS/360, then OS/360 PCP and then OS/360 MFT. The initial configuration used IBM 2311 disks, later upgraded to IBM 2314 disks.

IBM System/360 model 75

The model 50 was replaced by the model 75 with 1,048,576 8-bit bytes of memory in 1967. This machine could do an add in 0.75 microseconds and a multiply in 3. John Ehrman remembers that this machine ran OS/360 MVT.

IBM System/360 model 91

The model 91 arrived in 1968 and was retired August 21, 1981. It had 2,097,152 8-bit bytes of memory and could do an add in 0.2 microseconds, a multiply in 0.4. It was programmed primarily in Fortran. Ted Johnston remembers that this was the first machine at SLAC to run WYLBUR, around late 1969 or 1970, replacing Conversational Remote Batch Entry (CRBE), an IBM program.

IBM System/370 model 168

In late 1973 and early 1974, SLAC installed two IBM System/370 model 168s. Glen Herrmannsfeldt remembers that these computers each had 3,145,278 8-bit bytes of memory. Ted Johnston remembers one of them being upgraded to 5,242,880 and the other to 8,388,608 8-bit bytes by 1979. They were shut down in 1981 and 1982, their duties assumed by the IBM 3081.

John Ehrman remembers that these machines were arranged in a “Triplex” system under ASP with the model 91.

VAX systems

John Ehrman remembers that VAX systems proliferated in some of the major research groups in the mid-1970s.

IBM 3081

Ted Johnston remembers that when the model 91 was shut down in 1981 it was replaced by an ">IBM 3081 with 16,777,216 8-bit bytes of memory. Over a period of two years the IBM 3081 replaced all of the prior mainframes.

Stanford Medical School (1964 to about 1992)


In the south wing of the basement of the Stanford Medical School, the Genetics Lab had a DEC/NIH LINC computer with 4,096 12-bit words in 1964.

IBM System/360 model 50

From December of 1965 until 1973 an IBM System/360 model 50 was the principal computer of ACME. It had 131,072 8-bit bytes of memory plus an extension that provided 1,048,576 (later 2,097,152) additional bytes of lower-speed memory. This system had an IBM 2321 data cell drive, holding tape strips, giving the huge capacity (for the time) of about 400,000,000 8-bit bytes. This device was famous for its unreliability.

The model 50 also had four IBM 2311 disk drives, at about 7,250,000 8-bit bytes each, later replaced by an 8-drive IBM 2314, with 29,176,000 8-bit bytes per drive.

The computer was programmed in a subset of PL/I and offered timesharing. See also [8]

IBM 1800

From approximately May of 1966 until the 1970s the <a href=" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IBM_1800">IBM 1800</a> acted as a real-time sub-processor for the ACME system. It had 16,384 16-bit words of memory and was programmed in PL/I.


From some time in the 1970s until around 1992 there was the SUMEX timeshared computer service in the Medical School. It was supported by NIH and NLM and provided services to medical researchers throughout the United States, focusing on AU applications. The principal investigator was Prof. Joshua Lederberg and the manger was Tom Rindfleisch. Prof. Feigenbaum, Bruce Buchanan, and other researchers from the Computer Science Department were involved as well. It was used by Ted Shortliffe and others to develop the Mycin advice giving systems, the prototype for future experts system technologies. Ted Shortliffe later joined the Stanford faculty and started the Medical Information Science group at Stanford.

Its equipment was primarly a PDP-10. Mark Crispin remembers this PDP-10 having two <a href=" http://research.microsoft.com/~GBell/Digital/timeline/1972-3.htm">KI10</a> processors in 1977. It was programmed in InterLisp and used for the Stanford SUMEX-AIM National timeshared service. It ran the Tenex operating system.


In about 1979 SUMEX acquired a <a href="http://research.microsoft.com/~gbell/Digital/timeline/1978-2.htm "> DECSYSTEM-2020</a> called Tiny. Mark Crispin acquired that machine when it retired.


At some point in the early 1980s, SUMEX replaced its dual KI10 Tenex system with a DECSYSTEM-2060. By 1989 the 2060 had been upgraded to a <a href="http://www.corestore.org/DEC2065.htm">2065</a>.

Stanford Hospital (about 1970)

IBM System/360 model 40

An <a href="http://www-03.ibm.com/ibm/history/exhibits/mainframe/mainframe_PP2040.html">IBM System/360 model 40</a> was used at Stanford Hospital starting about 1970.

<a href="http://campus-map.stanford.edu/index.cfm?ID=04-540"> Aero and Astro</a> (about 1960 to about 1970)

IBM 1620

Some time in the 1960s there was an <a href="http://www-03.ibm.com/ibm/history/exhibits/mainframe/mainframe_PP1620.html">IBM 1620</a> in Durand with 20,000 4-bit digits of memory. It was used for development of the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Least_mean_squares_filter">Least Mean Squares algorithms</a>.

SDS Sigma 5

In about 1967 there was an <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xerox_Sigma_V"> SDS Sigma 5</a> in the Durand basement. This was a 32-bit computer.

Hewlett-Packard 2116

Also in the Durand basement in about 1967 was an <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HP_2100">HP 2116</a>.


In about 1970 the Durand held an Adage computer, an analog system used for 3D matrix transforms. This may have been an Adage Ambilog or an Adage AGT-30. See <a href=" http://www.virhistory.com/ncsu/ncsu_lab.htm"> http://www.virhistory.com/ncsu/ncsu_lab.htm</a>

Data General Eclipse

Some time in the 1970s there was a <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Data_General_Eclipse">Data General Eclipse</a> in the Durand basement.

Institute for Mathematical Studies in the Social Sciences (1977 to 1989)


Mark Crispin remembers that there was a PDP-10 at IMSSS in 1977, using a KI10 processor and running the Tenex operating system. At some point in the early 1980s IMSSS acquired a second KI10 processor from Rutgers and became a dual KI10 system like SUMEX. Rich Alderson remembers this system still being in place in 1989.

<a href="http://campus-map.stanford.edu/index.cfm?ID=02-020"> Center for Education Research at Stanford</a> (1976 to 1989)

The computers used by the Low-Overhead Time Sharing project (<a href=" http://infolab.stanford.edu/pub/voy/museum/pictures/display/1-5.htm">LOTS</a>) were located in an old TV studio at the Center for Educatonal Research at Stanford (CERAS).


LOTS started with a <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DECSYSTEM-20">DECSYSTEM-2040</a> with 524,288 36-bit words of memory in 1976. It ran the TOPS-20 operating system. Mark Crispin remembers that by the late 1970s the DECSYSTEM-2040 had become a DECSYSTEM-2050, and a second DECSYSTEM-20 computer had arrived. Patrick Scheible remembers the second DECSYSTEM-20 as LESS, meaning “LOTS' Even Slower Sister”

System Concepts SC-30

Rich Alderson remembers that the last PDP-10-type system at Stanford was the System Concepts SC-30 at LOTS. It was acquired in 1986.

By 1989 LOTS had three DECSYSTEM-2065s named Lear, Othello and Hamlet, the SC-30 named Macbeth, and other computers.

<a href="http://campus-map.stanford.edu/index.cfm?ID=08-350"> Graduate School of Business</a> (1978)


Mark Crispin remembers that the Graduate School of Business acquired a DECSYSTEM-2040 by 1978.


Mark Crispin remembers the DECSYSTEM-2040 being upgraded to a DECSYSTEM-2050, and a second machine was acquired later. Rich Alderson remembers that these two computers were named HOW and WHY.

<a href="http://campus-map.stanford.edu/index.cfm?ID=14-070"> Center for the Study of Language and Information</a> (some time in the 1980s)


Rich Alderson remembers that there was a DECSYSTEM-20 at CSLI in the 1980s. It may have been the former CONTEXT machine from the computer center.

This page was first created on 15 August 1997 by Gio Wiederhold, <A HREF="mailto:gio@cs.stanford.edu">email: gio@cs.stanford.edu</A>.

Base material was collected by <A HREF="http://InfoLab.stanford.edu/people/voy.html">Voy Wiederhold</A>, coordinator, <A HREF="mailto:voy@db.stanford.edu">email: voy@db.stanford.edu</A>, using Stanford Daily and Library sources. Additional material was provided by Gio Wiederhold, John Sauter (1963-1968), Mark Crispin (from 1977), Rich Alderson (1980s), Patrick Scheible, Glen Herrmannsfeldt, John Ehrman (SLAC) Ted Johnston (SLAC from 1969) <a href="http://www.stanford.edu/~learnest/">Les Earnest</a> and Al Kossow from personal recollection.

John Sauter and Gio Wiederhold will update these web pages as we obtain more information on early Computers at Stanford University.

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