[vcf-midatlantic] That UNIVAC part from Grabbe -- update!

Dan Roganti ragooman at gmail.com
Wed Oct 19 07:00:53 EDT 2016

On Tue, Oct 18, 2016 at 11:13 PM, Evan Koblentz via vcf-midatlantic <
vcf-midatlantic at lists.vintagecomputerfederation.org> wrote:

> Way back when the old MARCH opened its first exhibit at InfoAge (2005),
> the InfoAge powers that be lent us a collection to curate from an IEEE life
> fellow named Dimitry Grabbe. Among the collection was a board of tubes
> which Mr. Grabbe said was a half-adder module from the ENIAC.
> We soon figured out that Grabbe was wrong. The board says Engineering
> Research Associates. ERA had no part in ENIAC. Remington Rand bought ERA
> around the same time as RR also bought Eckert-Mauchly Computer Company. ERA
> + EMCC jointly became the UNIVAC division of Remington Rand.
> Thus my working theory has been that the part is from an early-model
> UNIVAC, although there was a slight chance it was an ENIAC replacement part.
> ERA was in Minnesota. Their alumni group has been nice to us. Two of their
> members spoke at VCF East 7.0, they gave us some artifacts (most notably a
> UNIVAC 1 technical manual), and there are links to us at
> http://vipclubmn.org/Exhibits.html#Others.
> Tonight I stumbled onto this link:
> http://vipclubmn.org/Articles/ERA2unisysWeb.pdf
> Go to page 4 of the PDF (page 2 of the document) -- look at the picture on
> the shelves on the right -- it's a plugboard of tubes from a UNIVAC 1103,
> circa 1955.
> That is EXACTLY the part we have from Grabbe!
> They describe it as the "basic logic element". I don't know where Grabbe
> got "half adder" but, as experienced/smart as he was, I trust the guys who
> built the computer.
> It's already in our new display case and soon there will be an accurate
> sign with it. :)
> Here's a picture of an 1103 in full glory:
> https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2c/UNIVAC-1
> 103-BRL61-0905.jpg

that's a cool story

​ERA is also where the fledgling, enthusiastic engineer by the name of
Seymour Cray had his start -- and the rest is history.
A really good book about their behind the scenes work from their WWII start
and later on to CDC is called 'Engines of the Mind'

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