A Montreal-based creator modeled a miniature replica of IBM’s iconic 1401 computer system.
Nicolas Temese told Business Insider that the scale model includes everything from the setup at the time: a punchcard reader, tape drives, a query console, a central unit, and a line printer.
Temese said his model is going to be displayed in Silicon Valley’s Computer History Museum, which also showcases a working, real-size 1401 computer system.
Nicolas Temese doesn’t work as a modeler full-time — he’s a technical director at a small animation studio in Montreal, Canada, where he’s based.
But he’s spent hours creating a mini version of IBM’s successful 1401 computer.
The machine celebrated its 60th anniversary last year. It debuted in 1959 and became one of the first mass-produced computers. It was relatively affordable and sold 12,000 units, with standard businesses gravitating to the machine for its ease of use. It was a labor-intensive process, according to the Computer History Museum, but some nations used the machine well into the 1980s.
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Temese’s model shows the various components of the IBM 1401 data center. There’s a punchcard reader, which could punch and read data cards. There are two tape drives and a query console, where data scientists could search for data from computers and tapes. There’s a central unit, which was essentially what we now know as a CPU. And then there’s a line printer.
He told Business Insider that he began work on the set in late December 2019, but only in the evenings.
“I do have a day job, so only a few hours every week,” Temese said.
He started posting photos of his designs online a few months ago on his Instagram account and started seeing them gain some attention.
The designs are built from scratch — he cuts sheets of polystyrene and assembles the objects himself.
“I like 3D printing, but I like to do those objects by hand to capture the texture and the feeling of it,” Temese said.
He has more ideas in the works to model other types of vintage computer systems and also delve into doing commissioned work.
Temese said the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, where Google is headquartered, approached him and asked if he’d be willing to donate the model. The museum is currently closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home order, but it has a working, real-size copy of the system.
“It’s going to feel right at home there,” Temese said.
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