Ibm 1401 A User's Manual Itunes

Posted : admin On 10/7/2021
  1. Itunes User Manual Download
  2. Itunes 12 User Manual
  3. Ibm 1401 A User's Manual
IBM 1401, A User's Manual
Studio album by
ReleasedOctober 30, 2006
StudioBarrandov Studios, Smecky Soundstage, Prague; various locations in Reykjavik, Skálholt, Florence, Madrid, Zürich, Piran, and Rennes
GenreElectronic, avant-garde
ProducerJóhann Jóhannsson
Jóhann Jóhannsson chronology
IBM 1401, A User's Manual
Singles from IBM 1401, A User's Manual
  1. 'The Sun's Gone Dim and the Sky's Turned Black'
    Released: October 9, 2006

View & download of more than 7255 Ibm PDF user manuals, service manuals, operating guides. Desktop user manuals, operating guides & specifications. Dec 04, 2018  The first ever pressing of IBM 1401, A User’s Manual comes in a deluxe gatefold sleeve, reworked by Chris Bigg (v23) from his original design. Pressed on clear vinyl, two live tracks recorded with the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra have also been added. Aug 09, 2007  Johann Johannsson: Computer on the Radio The Icelandic composer pits the string orchestra against the computer in an epic struggle of man vs. Feb 03, 2013  Shop IBM 1401 A User's Manual VINYL. Everyday low prices and free delivery on eligible orders. Mar 21, 2007  Video directed by Magnus Helgason. From the album IBM 1401, a User's Manual (4ad).

IBM 1401, A User's Manual is the fourth full length studio album by Icelandic musician Jóhann Jóhannsson, released by 4AD on October 30, 2006.

4AD released the album on vinyl for the first time on December 8, 2017. The reissue was a double LP pressing on clear-coloured vinyl and included two previously unreleased live bonus tracks.[1]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Pitchfork Media6.9/10[4]
Slant Magazine[5]
Stylus MagazineB+[6]

Upon its release, IBM 1401, A User's Manual received mostly positive reviews from music critics. Pitchfork's Mark Richardson gave it a 6.9, saying that the record 'begins beautifully' and has a 'powerful finish', 'but the long sag in the middle makes IBM 1401 – A User's Manual a bit harder to recommend overall.'[7]

Sal Cinquemani for Slant Magazine said that the album 'gives you the sense of hearing something truly ancient being married to something very modern and present, and, then, something very futuristic.'[8] Cinquemani praised the album's ambition and thematic work while noting that it was less musically varied. 'Some theorists claim humans can simulate anything with a computer, even a soul,' Cinquemani concluded, 'and with IBM 1401 - A User’s Manual, Jóhannsson comes chillingly close.'[8]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks are written by Jóhann Jóhannsson and Sigvaldi Kaldalóns.

1.'Part 1 / IBM 1401 Processing Unit'8:32
2.'Part 2 / IBM 1403 Printer'9:32
3.'Part 3 / IBM 1402 Card Read-Punch'10:23
4.'Part 4 / IBM 729 II Magnetic Tape Unit' (vocals by Erna Ómarsdóttir)7:15
5.'Part 5 / The Sun's Gone Dim and the Sky's Turned Black' (vocals by Jóhann Jóhannsson, lyrics by Dorothy Parker)7:09
Vinyl-only bonus tracks[1]
6.'Part 1 / IBM 1401 Processing Unit' (live with the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra)
7.'Part 5 / The Sun's Gone Dim and the Sky's Turned Black' (live with the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra)


Credits for IBM 1401, A User's Manual adapted from Allmusic.[2]

  • Chris Bigg – art direction, design, photography
  • Arnar Bjarnason – arranging
  • City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra – orchestra
  • Elias Davidsson – recording
  • Finnur Hakonarsson – mixing
  • Jan Holzner – engineering
  • Jóhann Jóhannsson – bells, celeste, Hammond organ, liner notes, piano, production, recording, vocals
  • Örn Kaldalóns – recording
  • Vaughan Oliver – art direction, design
  • Erna Órnarsdóttir – vocals
  • City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra – ensemble
  • Nick Webb – mastering


  1. ^ ab'4AD – Jóhann Jóhannsson – IBM 1401, A User's Manual'. Retrieved 17 October 2017.
  2. ^ ab'Jóhann Jóhannsson: ibm 1401, a user's manual'. Allmusic. Retrieved 2014-04-26.
  3. ^Hands, Steve (16 October 2006). 'Jóhann Jóhannsson – Ibm 1401: A Users Manual'. musicOMH. Retrieved 2014-04-26.
  4. ^Richardson, Mark (9 November 2006). 'Jóhann Jóhannsson – IBM 1401 – A User's Manual'. Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 2014-04-26.
  5. ^Cinquemani, Sal (7 November 2006). 'Jóhann Jóhannsson – IBM 1401 – A User's Manual'. Slant Magazine. Retrieved 2014-04-26.
  6. ^Teasdale, Paul (6 December 2006). 'Jóhann Jóhannsson – IBM 1401 – A User's Manual'. Stylus Magazine. Retrieved 2014-04-26.
  7. ^'Jóhann Jóhannsson: IBM 1401 – A User's Manual Album Review Pitchfork'. Retrieved 2016-10-25.
  8. ^ abCinquemani, Sal (2006-11-07). 'Jóhann Jóhannsson IBM 1401 - A User's Manual Album Review Slant Magazine'. Slant Magazine. Retrieved 2018-03-14.

External links[edit]

  • IBM 1401, A User's Manual at AllMusic
  • IBM 1401, A User's Manual at Discogs (list of releases)
Retrieved from ',_A_User%27s_Manual&oldid=921316096'

The IBM 1401

Photo: IBM 1401 DataProcessing System Reference Manual A24-1403-x.

The IBM 1401 Data Processing System, a stored-programtransistor-logic computer announced October 1959.At $2500 per month minimally configured, this was IBM's first affordablegeneral-purpose computer, and it was intended to take the place of all theaccounting machines andcalculatorsthat still provided a cheaper alternative to IBM's 650and 70x computers.Thousands of 1401s were sold or rented; in fact, it was the first computer todeploy 10000 units. The 1401 was a decimal (not binary) computer, withvariable-length words composed of 8-bit bytes containing 6-bit BCD(binary coded decimal) characters (plus parityand wordmark bits), and was intendedprimarily for business applications (its scientific counterpart was the 1620).The 1401 was the first in IBM's 1400 series of computers, which laterincluded the 1410, 1440, and 1460. Originallyprogrammed only in machine or assembly language or (a bit later) Autocoder, which proved difficult formany people, the 1401 was soon host to one of the earliest high-levelbusiness-oriented programming languages, RPG (Report Program Generator),which increased its usability and popularity [4]. Later FORTRAN was added for scientificprogramming.

According to Hugh T. Hoskins, there was an assembler called SOPAT, deliveredfrom IBM, prior to the appearance of Autocoder. This was at theUniversity of Southern California School of Business in 1962. Also see thelater comments from Keith Williams below.

The 1401 was so popular that (according to legend) 1401 applications werestill running in 2000 on 1401 simulators (which themselves might be 70x0applications, therefore running on simulators of their own), and thispresented a special challenge in the Year-2000 conversion. You can bet that1960-era programmers with a only few thousand bytes of memory at theirdisposal didn't 'waste core' on 4-digit years!.

Pictured (left to right; follow links for bigger pictures):

  • The 1401 computer itself with its control panel upper left
  • a 1405 Disk Storage Unit
  • 1403 printer.

The 1403 printer could print up to 1400 132-column lines per minute,sometimes more. The 1402 reader/punch could accommodate 1000 cards (half abox) in its hopper, read 800 cards per minute, and punch 250 cards perminute. Loren Wilton (of Burroughs/Unisys, who worked with the 1401 whilein college) pointed out (31 Dec 2003) that:

... if you let a handful of cards fall down into the read feed(which was normally done when loading the tray, and would happen as soon asyou started the reader anyway) the tray plus the read feeder would hold anentire box of cards easily, or 2000+ cards.

This was quite handy, since it reduced the amount of time you had to spendloading the cards into the reader, and you could devote your time tomanaging the punch, which had a much smaller hopper, and the read/punchstackers, which only held around 800 to 1000 cards at most in each stacker.Typically only the right stacker was used for the reader, and the leftstacker used for the punch, so multiple stackers didn't help much.

If you were running a job that printed data onto preprinted forms,(especially with multipart paper or stiff paper) you would also have todevote a fair amount of time to monitoring the 1403 stacker to make surethat you didn't end up with forms spilling all over the floor rather thanstacking neatly in the stacker. Thick forms tended to not stack well,especially if the printer were doing a lot of high-speed slews, as wastypical in forms jobs.

Not shown: the 1406 storage unit containing core memory. The 1401 was equipped with up to 4K8-bit characters of core memory; the 1406 increased its memory capacity to 8K,12K, or 16K (thus the 1401 shown above has 4K).

The 1405 Disk Storage Unit Model 1 had a capacity of '10 millionalphanumerical characters stored on 25 disks' (platters). The Model 2 held20 million characters on 50 platters. Each platter is accessed by its own access arm (read/write head). This is one of theearliest production disk drives, the direct descendent of the original IBM 305Disk File introduced with its RAMAC (RAndoM ACcess) computer in 1956. 'Thein-line method of data processing continually maintains the records of abusiness in up-to-date status. Any transaction affecting a business can beprocessed when it occurs, and all the records and accounts affected areupdated immediately. The executives of an organization have available, at anytime, information representing the status of any account at that moment.'

Anecdotes Department

From Bob Resnikoff, perhaps the only person on staff here longer than me*:
I seem to remember (though I can't be certain) that we used the 1401 toprocess print tapes from the 7090 (or 7094). Since the 7090 was 'so fast,'it was considered a waste of resource to use it to print output. So printand punch output was written to tape (even parity for text, odd for binary)which was then processed on the 1401. I always liked the 1401; I rememberit as being kind of elegant and economical in its use of storage (the wordswere only as long as you needed them to be).

This one's by me...

When I was in theArmy in Germany in the mid-1960s, at 7th Army Headquarters in Stuttgart, Patch Barracks, we had a mobile 1401. It was in a BIGtruck trailer. When we went out on maneuvers, it came with us. The trailerwas hitched to adeuce and half, and a gigantic gas-powered generator was hitched to thetrailer. Once we were deployed in the woods or wherever, the sides of thetrailer telescoped out and you had a fairly large machine room full of key punches, verifiers, the 1401, tape drives, desks,etc. Maybe the key punches and verifiers were in a separate trailer, it'sall cloudy now. I wasn't exalted enough to have anything directly to dowith the computer, I did the key punches and EAMs (407, sorter, etc). I had noidea what it was all used for, except that it was called a Command andControl Information System (CCIS). Anyway it did its job, whatever it was,for weeks on end in the depths of the Schwarzwald, no matter how much mud wetracked in.

In July 2006 I heard from Wade Harper, who was at CCIS at the same time, whomused:

Itunes User Manual Download

It's hard to believe that we had 12 E6's and 12 E7's, 3 Lt's and 2 or3 WO to program a computer with JUST 8K of memory.
Yeah. Btw, E6 and E7 are enlisted pay grades. LT is Lieutenant. WO isWarrant Officer, which is in between Enlisted and Officer. Warrant Officersare usually helicopter pilots. The enlisted men (they were, indeed, allmen), with one exception, were Specialists, not NCOs (noncommissionedofficers, i.e. Sergeants), meaning they had the same pay as sergeantswithout having to boss people around. A good idea, I think: to promotepeople based on their skill and performance, letting them keep doing whatthey are good at without forcing them into management. (Apparently, theArmy abandoned this practice some years ago.) Later, Wade explained what the1401 was actually doing at CCIS:
The 1041 was programmed for MRS (Military Report System) in the field.Which was a simple sequential database on tape. 1 block for each report.Each Hq office would submit info in card format which was put to tape asinput to MRS. We could hardly program anything with just 8K ram. Everyreport had to be the same format. No individual calculations. We werebarnstorming one day and Jodie Powers wondered if we could somehow put 1 or2K of code on the tape with each block of data. Then we could individualizeeach report. So I finally got it programmed and it work very well. We alsoprogrammed stuff for garrison work. I had all the conventional ammo inEurope. Spurling (because he spoke German) and I think Jerry Cook, had themarching orders program (in case of war). I don't remember the otherprojects. We went around to a lot of Battalion headquarters begging forwork. I stayed in the Army for 20 years. Then worked as a SystemsProgrammer on the IBM 360/370 and others until I retired for good in 1996.I was fortunate to learn computer programming in the Army.
* Written before 2011, when I was laid off.Within a couple more years Bob too after just about 50 years. Out with theold and in with the new!

Lessons from the Jungle

by Gary H. Anthes

Gary Anthes contributed the following on 30 March 2005, 'My own smallcontribution to the 1401 Appreciation Society and Autocoder ProgrammersAlumni Association is the attachment, a column I wrote for Computerworld afew years ago. Enjoy.' [Computerworld, August 20, 1990, Manager'sJournal, p.60. BYLINE: By Gary H. Anthes. Anthes, Computerworld'sWashington, D.C., correspondent, is a former U.S. Navy Lt. j.g. and wasassistant director of data processing at the Navy Supply Depot in Da Nang,Vietnam.]

The enemy rockets always came at night, but they were not well aimed andrarely did much damage. And when a buddy was bitten by a poisonous snake ashe took cover in a bunker during a red alert, I decided to stay in bedwhenever the rockets came in.

But just before dawn on Feb. 24, 1970, the Viet Cong got lucky, and Ilearned about disaster recovery.

A rocket launched from somewhere in the Vietnamese jungle hit the U.S. NavySupply Depot near Da Nang, miraculously landing on a stack of 6,000anti-tank mines. The exploding mines sent shock waves across the depot,flattening the data processing center where I worked. Secondary explosionscontinued for 13 hours.

When I heard the mammoth explosion at my camp several miles away, Iimmediately thought of the gray case holding the five tapes that wereupdated each day and taken off-site in case computer processing ever had tobe moved to the Navy's emergency facility in the Philippines. But the caseholding the backup data files wasn't in its familiar spot by my bed; I hadforgotten to take it with me the previous evening. With visions of courtsmartial dancing through my head, I drove to the Supply Depot to help in theclean-up and recovery effort.

Although the building housing the computer center had collapsed, the IBM1401 computer and it's coterie of electro-mechanical punched card machinesseemed more or less intact, although covered with tons of dust anddebris. And the case holding the mag tapes was were I had left it,apparently unharmed.

Two civilian IBM engineers soon arrived on the scene, and if they slept atall over the next few days, it wasn't apparent. The computer was wheeled toan intact warehouse nearby, where Navy Sea Bees worked around the clock toinstall a raised floor and air conditioning. Thanks to these heroic effortsand to IBM's industrial strength vacuum cleaners, the equipment was cleanedup and working again within a week.

The IBM 1401 -- a predecessor to the System 360 -- had all the processingpower and memory of today's arcade games, but it ran three shifts a day,seven days a week keeping track of an inventory of 105,000 items supportingrequisitions worth $32 million a month. Although the computer and itsinventory control applications were critical to the Navy's mission ofsupplying combat troops, disaster recovery was executed so quickly that Navybrass elected not to send me to the Philippines with the backup tapes. Thus,I escaped a court martial and never learned whether the explosions hadjiggled the tapes' bits into alphabet soup.

There are some lessons in all of this for today's data center manager, noneof them having to do with Viet Cong rockets, anti-tank mines or poisonoussnakes. First, expect the unexpected. Second, have a gold-plated servicecontract backed up by dedicated, competent people. Last, if you're the oneentrusted with the case of backup tapes, don't leave work without it.

Itunes 12 User Manual

Department of Corrections

The following was received from Bill Nugent in March 2005:When talking about memory capacity, most people understand 4K, 12K, 16K as meaning 4096, 12288 and 16384. The IBM 1401 had memory capacities of 4000, 8000, 12000 and 16000 words. Might want to explain the difference. Also each memory location was a word not an 8 bit characters. One of the bits was not accessible because it was a parity bit and another bit was the Word Mark (WM) which marked the beginning of instruction (reading up) and the end of a data field (reading down through memory).

The 1402 five output hoppers (stackers) were a very useful feature. By default the puncher would drop the card in the left stacker and optionally in the 2nd from left or the middle stacker. The reader by default dropped into the right stacker and optionally into the second from the right or the middle stacker. I used many programs and wrote a program or two that would read data cards into the center stacker by default unless the card was going to be replaced in which case it would dropped into the second from the right stacker and the card punch would punch a replacement and drop it into the center stacker.

The one bizarre thing about the 1401 was the card reader would read into addressess 001 through 080. When the Load button was pressed the card reader would read in the first card, the I-Addr register was set to 001 so execution began in address 001 and so the boot loader would begin (let me know if you want a more indepth explanation about the boot loader). The card punch would punch from address 101 through 180 and the printer printed from 201 through 132 with address 200 being the used for channel control (right phrase).

Because the computer was variable word length it was easy to write a program using variable length arithmetic. A 1401 with the optional multiply/divide instruction option could multiple two 80 decimal numbers in approximately 15 minutes with a single instruction.

I have just found your pages on the 1401 at

It gave me great pleasure because I joined IBM in October 1959 just aboutthe time of the announcement of that machine. The 1401 was the firstcomputer that I knew and probably the only one that I understood in depth.I learned to program the machine in 1960 and by 1961 was teaching it toother IBM personnel and customer programmers.

I feel obliged to correct one small fact contained on your page. Autocoderwas not the first programming language for the 1401. The instructionrepertoire and memory addressing system was simple enough to allow you tocode simple routines in machine language, but the first assembler programwas known as SPS (Symbolic Programming System). This programming system wasannounced by IBM with the machine.

Many of the early 1401s (which replaced punched card accounting systems)consisted simply of the 1401 processing unit, a 1402 card reader/punch and a1403 printer. They had no tape or disk units, and in fact these units didnot figure in the first announcement. Autocoder required a tape or disk unitto process your symbolic program to produce the object code. Autocoder wasmade available first on the 1410, and a 1401 version did not appear untillate 1961.

Until that time we programmed the 1401 in SPS (Symbolic Programming System).The SPS assembler program was held in a stack of punched cards. Theprogrammer's symbolic program was also punched into cards and placed behindthe SPS assembler in the reading stack of the 1402. On pressing the 'Load'button the SPS assembler was loaded into the core memory of the 1401 andimmediately read and processed the user's symbolic program. Translation wasa two step process - first a partially translated deck was punched out onthe punch side of the 1402. This partially translated program was then fedback into the read side of the 1402 and, during this second pass, a fullytranslated object program was punched out on the punch side.

The 1401 was supplied with a choice of 5 different core memory sizes. Forpractical 'stand alone' computing the minimum memory size was 4K characters,but you could have 8, 12 or 16K memory configurations. It was also suppliedwith a minimum memory configuration of 1.4K for systems that were to be usedas off-line printer system for the much more powerful IBM 700/7000 series.

To clarify a point made by Bill Nugent, the smallest addressable unit ofmemory on the 1400 series was known as the 'character' and consisted ofeight binary bits (physically, eight ferrite cores). It was the equivalentof what we now call a 'byte' but that term did not come into use until theannouncement of the third generation (System /360) machines. As Billexplains, six of the bits were used for character coding, using a systemknown as BCD based on the code used in IBM punched cards. The seventh bitwas used as a parity bit, and the eighth as a 'Word Mark'. A 'Word' on the1400 series consisted of a variable number of consecutive characterpositions, the last one having the 'Word Mark' bit on. It was thereforeknown as a variable word length machine, in contrast to the fixed wordlength of the 709 and 650 which had preceded it. Each machine languageinstruction constituted a 'word' and could vary in length between 1, 4, 7and 8 characters, the last one carrying a word mark. Data words were, ofcourse, totally variable in length, and were processed character bycharacter in sequence until the word mark was encountered.

More Stories...

From Karen B. McLaughlin, 24 August 2006:

I was an early SPS programmer, starting at the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory (LRL) in 1961 fresh out of UC Berkeley. Keith Williams clarified a lot of specifics I couldn't recognize in the other reminiscences preceding his input. His descriptions brought back memories of what we programmers had to go through in order to test and debug, including loading/unloading punched cards and making sure the paper was stacking correctly. No one mentioned key punching, but that was another skill we all had to acquire because the keypunch staff was kept busy punching data cards since we had no tape drives. A significant characteristic about the 1401 (and others of its era) was that because there was no operating system, any error could be attributed to the program in core, making debugging a relatively simple case of problem solving. Once operating systems were involved, error correction became far more complicated and time consuming.

Another point about the 1401: the console had bit switches that allowed a programmer to change core dynamically, which enabled debugging on the fly--providing you knew Hollerith. Since the programming staff only got hands-on testing one hour a day, that was a useful feature.

Program design had to be elegant and frugal, utilizing overlays and structure before the term was invented. Today many people carry a PDA and cell phone each with more memory than the first computer we used to create payroll processing for over 5,000 employees at LRL Berkeley and Livermore in 1968.

I stayed in the computing field, encountering lots of different machines, languages, projects, and job titles, and eventually retired in 1999 after 25 years at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. With a gleeful feeling of excess, possibly engendered by my early experience on the 1401, I just finished building a personal computer containing almost 500GB of storage, far more than I'll ever be able to use.

I had a wonderful and challenging ride over the years, but I have always thought programming and operating the 1401 was the most fun.

Robert N. Sammer, 21 May 2007:

After reading the articles on your web site, I would like to add thefollowing.

In 1962, I joined IBMs New York Time/Life building computer operationsdepartment as a 1401 computer operator.

My responsibilities included putting all incoming computer jobs programmerssubmitted to the center onto tape using the satellite 1401. This allowed thecurrent main frames (7090, 7040/44) to process jobs without the time consuminginput/output functions.

The New York computer center was a satellite to the main computing center inPoughkeepsie N. Y., so the second shift, in N.Y, would send Poughkeepsie, viatelephones lines called teleprocessing, the overflow of jobs which could notbe processed in NY.

Since we had a deadline to meet, and there many jobs to be teleprocessed toPoughkeepsie, I stacked the multitude of jobs onto the card read feed traywhich could hold up to 3000 cards, press start on the computer and the card totape process started. When there was a reader check (the reader detected anerror between the read-in and verify brushes) the operator had to carefullyremove the cards in the card read-in hopper so that card sequence integritywas preserved; remove cards from the top of the read feed tray so that theremaining cards on the tray could be pushed upward so the operator could flushthe cards inside the reader. Now the operator would check the card in errorto see if there was a valid reason for the reader check. If none could beseen, the operator would replace all the cards in proper order and start thereader. If nothing happened, the card to tape processing would continue. Ifthe same card had another reader check the job would be eliminated from thejob stream, and the programmer was notified.

One night, the reader that was assigned to this task kept giving false readerchecks. It would read five or six cards and reader check the next one. Afterperforming the procedure described above, the reader would read nine or tencards and reader check the next card.

I asked my supervisor to have the CEs (Customer Engineer) to check the readerout. I was told the CEs had check during the first shift several times butcould not find any reason for the reader checks. After about the twentiethreader check, with time running out, I did what any good AmericanDo-It-Yourself repairman would do.

(To easing the stress of an eight hour shift on my feet, I purchased a pair ofrubber soled shoes. The sole design reminded me of a newly plowed field withlittle valleys and sharp peaks which went from side to side on each shoe.)

If it doesnt work after checking it out and finding nothing wrong.kick it!That is exactly what I did. My shoe print was left on the door of the 1401because of the normal dust found on raised white tile floors in the operationsroom.

The reader did not malfunction during the remainder of my shift, readingperfectly. It worked the third shift, the first shift and when I returned towork my shoe print still there and received many thanks from my fellowoperators for fixing the reader.

The CEs even were surprised at my solution. The print remained for a few daysbut was removed before the CE manager and guests came through on a tour of theoperations department. Due to your web site articles and wondering what, if anything, will be donefor the 50th anniversary of the advent of the 1401, I retrained myself forprogramming the 1401 and have written a small utility program for it and am95% sure it will work if entered into the 1401. Yes, I played 1401 computerto test the program out, and yes, it was hard to translate SPS coding into anobject deck as we called it in 1962, but I had FUN. And this after a 38 yearcareer in IBM Main Frame computer systems design, specification writing,coding, debugging, testing etc.


July 4, 2007:Edward G. Nilges
13A 6F 1F Wang Long Village
Yung Shue Wan
Lamma Island

Dear Frank:

As a former IBM 1401 programmer, who debugged an object code only compilerfor Fortran after IBM removed support for the 1401 in January 1971, and whodiscovered extra precision math and new forms of 'modified address'arithmetic on my own, I am actually quite angry to read how the Army had theresources to wastefully set up a '1401 data center' in the woods of Germany,while my university went begging for resources to teach its students.

This is because the 1401 data center probably did not do much of anythingand was a boondoggle.

I admire the hard work and heroism of data processing techs who recoveredthe 1401 at Da Nang after a Viet Cong rocket attack. However, at the sametime I was learning the 1401, I was marching against that crazy war, ascrazy as the war in Iraq today, where, no doubt, the heroism,self-sacrifice, and hard work of lowly and unglamorous mil-specs is beingwasted so officers at flag rank can get promoted, and the worst President inAmerican history can pretend he's a man.

My direct experience as a data processing professional over the followingthirty years was that in America, the civilian sector was systematicallystarved of time and resources to develop effective and reliable systems forhuman needs so that our military-industrial establishment could waste moneyin idiotic ventures from carting a mainframe around in a truck to 'StarWars'.

I discovered in January 1972 the consequence of the macho big talk of IBMcustomer engineers who had learned as draftees their macho big talk, becauseone of them had charged my university, a university starved of funds becauseRoosevelt University had the bad taste to educate working class people andpeople of color, for 'fixing' the IBM 1401 Fortran compiler to work onRoosevelt's minimal memory using unavailable memory tobranch to a subroutine which overlaid the runtime interpreter.

This 'fix' had never been tested, but thrown contemptuously at mymathematics professor, who was merely trying to give working class studentsand students of color their first education in computer science so theycould compete with wealthy children at the University of Chicago.

The customer engineer did not even know, and was apparently incurious todiscover, that Roosevelt University was paying for and had had the extrahardware to perform multiply and divide in memory. I removed his 'fix' andinserted the correct multiply instruction, and the compiler worked and wassubsequently used in classes.

The intellectual incuriosity and sexist talk of the customer engineers (wholiked working at Roosevelt, they said, because it was even thenold-fashioned, with a glass window on Michigan Avenue suitable forgirlwatching) was part and partial of a military and corporate quasi-elitewhich then and now insists on 'leading' America into a permanent war in Iraq(that resulted from a failure of intellectual curiosity as to whether SaddamHusayn had WMDs) and increasing numbers of Americans tormented on the joband off by data systems constructed by ignorant men, which fail to providethem health insurance, which fail to provide veterans with benefits theyearned, and which fail to record their credit history accurately and rendertheir credit record prey to the criminal class.

Lyndon Baines Johnson's 'Great Society' and its glimmer of hope had alreadydisappeared by 1972, and as a result Roosevelt University and its studentswere even then increasingly unable to access funds for education or any truehuman needs, because in 1972, Nixon's insane bombing campaign anddestabilization of the government of Chile took precedence.

For this reason, I pitched in, working 12 hours a day, keeping RooseveltUniversity's IBM 1401 system alive until it could upgrade. I developed a setof software and procedures for reliable computing that enabled the Registrarto accurately grade students and the Bursar to pay employees, in an era whenthis meant coding in SPS assembler language for the most part, with theFortran compiler available for reports.

For this reason, I am appalled to see the military industrial complex andthe aging men rejected by this complex celebrate the use of the 1401 to killfour million people in Vietnam. I am also on record (on comp.risks) asquestioning the takeover of the Computer Museum in Mountain View by hardwaretypes (and political conservatives who, inappropriately, insert pro-Bushrants in technical communications) who are reconstructing the 1401 inhardware, thereby wasting scarce resources, and, possibly, rebuilding toxictechnologies, when the Computer Museum could present much more of the 'deep'technology of the past in software simulation.

You can read more details of my early adventures with compilation on the1401 on my book on a modern technology. It's 'BuildYour Own Net Language and Compiler' (Apress 2004). I remain convincedthat MOST software and hardware efforts in America then and now are notserious technical and intellectual ventures, but boondoggles private andpublic meant to show that 'everything is under control'...when the incidentsin Manhattan in September 2001, and in Glasgow last week, show that thisisn't the case at all, and that perverting technology for shows of force (ifnot downright murder, as when data systems are used to track our destructionof targets from the air) has created the anti-Americanism that today is thenorm in other countries.

Very Sincerely

Edward G. Nilges

Your editor responds, belatedly (2015):The US Army in Germany of the 1960s was relatively harmless. A great wasteof money and resources for sure, as was the Cold War itself, but it didn'tdo much more harm than running over the occasional chicken. As I respondedto Edward in 2007 (we had a lengthy correspondence), in 1965 “theAmerican invasion of the Dominican Republic was a real eye-opener for me(still a teenager but already in the Army), and it came just when Johnsonwas starting to call up 50,000 kids a month for Viet Nam. I wondered, whatArmy am I in?” I applied for discharge as a conscientious objector andspent my final year in the Army waiting for them to figure out what to dowith the application. In the end it was denied but by then I only had a fewdays left and when I got back to the States I was ready-made for the antiwarmovement (and the next antiwar movement, and the next, and the next...)

Today we see the final result of America's postwar priorities: much of theMiddle East in full collapse, Mexico and Central America turned into killingfields; the US economy in ruins except for those at the very top; ourpolitical system hell-bent on undoing everything good that was accomplishedsince FDR took office; the very planet rapidly becoming a toxic waste dumpsinking into a dead sea. And that's the short list. So I'm on Edward'sside, but this is a computer nostalgia site :-) Nevertheless,it's always good to put things in perspective.

Ibm 1401 a user

Still More Stories...

From Dave Brown, 6 August 2015:

I enjoyed reading your page about the IBM 1401 computer. It brought backmemories. One thing I recall is that the Autocoder instruction 'StoreB-register', coded as 'SBR', caused the CPU to emit a very short radio burstthat could be picked up by an FM transistor radio set on top of the CPUcabinet. So there were programs that would play Christmas Carols by issuingSBR's at the frequency per second for each note. The 1403 printer had itsletters on a bicycle-like chain drive with 132 hammers that would hit thecharacters as they flew by. One program to test the integrity of the chainwas called a 'Chain Breaker'. It would print a line of charters that causedall 132 hammer to fire at the same time which put considerable stress on thechain. I recall that there was a knob on the printer to advance or retardthe hammer-timing, depending on the number of carbon copies that were beingprinted, otherwise the left- or right-side of each letter would be missing.And like the SBR instruction, there were programs that would use the firingof the hammers to make notes to play Christmas Carols. My favorite was the'Little Drummer Boy'.

Ibm 1401 A User's Manual

Photos and quoted text in the first section: From the IBM 1401 DataProcessing System Reference Manual A24-1403-x, courtesy of BrentRadbourne, February 2003.

Onsite Links:

  • The IBM 1410.

Offsite Links (all valid as of 24 Feb 2015):

  • IBM 1401: The Mainframe, IBM 100th anniversary website(, 1911-2011.
  • 1401 Data Processing System (IBM)
  • CED in theHistory of Media Technology (IBM 305 RAMAC).
  • IBM 1401(Museu Virtual de Informática).
  • Foodman.Com 1401 history.
  • 1401s I Have Known(Tom Van Vleck).
  • IBM1401 Programming - Gutenberg eBook (2011)
Offsite Links valid Feb 2003, defunct, c'est la Web...
  • IBM 1401Manuals and Documents (scanned to PDF by Al Kossow)
  • Technical Details (IBM 1401 am Hochschulrechenzentrum der TechnischenHochschule Darmstadt)
  • TheIBM 1401 Computer (Dave Nichols)

Last update:Mon Sep 7 21:48:02 2015

Frank da Cruz / [email protected] /Columbia University Computing History /