Inventors of the Modern Computer
International Business Machines
IBM 701 EDPM
chapter in the History of Modern Computers finally brings us to
a name most of you will have heard of. IBM stands for International
the largest computer company in the world today. IBM is responsible for
numerous inventions having to do with computers.
company incorporated in 1911, starting as a major producer of punch card
tabulating machines. In the 1930s, IBM built a series of calculators (the
600s) based on their card processing equipment. In 1944, IBM co-sponsored
1 computer (together with Harvard University), the first machine to
compute long calculations automatically.
year 1953 saw the development of IBM's 701 EDPM, which, according to IBM,
was the first commercially successful general-purpose computer. The 701's
invention was part of the Korean War effort. Thomas Johnson Watson, Jr.
wanted to contribute a "defense calculator" to aid in the United Nations'
policing of Korea. One obstacle he had to overcome was in convincing his
father, Thomas Johnson Watson, Sr. (then Chief Executive Officer of IBM)
that computers would not harm IBM's card processing business. The 701s
were incompatible with IBM's punched
card processing equipment, a moneymaker for IBM.
nineteen 701s were manufactured (the machine could be rented for $15,000
per month). The first 701 went to IBM's world headquarters in New York.
Three went to atomic research laboratories. Eight went to aircraft companies.
Three went to other research facilities. Two went to government agencies,
including the first use of a computer by the U.S. Department of Defense.
Two went to the navy and the last machine went to the U.S. Weather Bureau
in early 1955.
701 had electrostatic storage tube
memory, used magnetic tape to store information, and had binary, fixed-point,
single address hardware. The speed of the 701 computers was limited by
the speed of its memory; the processing units in the machines were about
10 times faster than the core memory. The 701 also led to the development
of the programming language FORTRAN.
1956, a significant upgrade to the 701 appeared. The IBM 704 was considered
the world's first super-computer and the first machine to incorporate floating-point
hardware. The 704 used magnetic core memory that was faster and more reliable
than the magnetic drum storage found in the 701. Also part of the 700 series,
the IBM 7090 was the first commercial transistorized computer. Built in
1960, the 7090 computer was the fastest computer in the world. IBM dominated
the mainframe and minicomputer market for the next two decades with its
releasing the 700 series, IBM built the 650 EDPM, a computer compatible
with its earlier 600 calculator series. The 650 used the same card processing
peripherals as the earlier calculators, starting the trend for loyal customers
to upgrade. The 650s were IBM's first mass-produced computers (universities
were offered a 60% discount).
1981, IBM created its first personal home-use computer called the IBM
PC, another milestone in computer history.
Pictures of the 701's tape drive,
701's electrostatic storage tubes used for memory, the 704 and the 650
EDPM. More on the history of the largest computer company in the world.