Weekly Classic Computer Trivia Question (20141215)

Chuck Guzis cclist at sydex.com
Mon Dec 22 12:57:30 CST 2014

On 12/22/2014 09:31 AM, Doug Ingraham wrote:

> One of my friends reminded me of the most unusual uses of the 1000 LPM
> printer on the CDC 3400 that South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
> had in the 1970's and that was as a bass drum when the computer played the
> Stars and Stripes forever.  I only saw this run a handful of times and it
> is probably one of those things lost forever.  Even if someone had a copy
> of the program no simulator would be accurate enough to run it and I am
> pretty sure there is no running hardware.

"Anchors Aweigh" was also another favorite when the Navy brass showed 
up--and the Navy was usually a very good customer in those days.  It was 
said that CDC would have an order as soon as a new machine was 
announced.  Perhaps not true, but pretty nearly.

One aspect of hammer issues (and this also was a problem in later train 
printers) was contamination from the ribbon and paper dust.  Eventually 
a hammer would become sluggish and its characters vertically 
displaced--train printers had characters horizontally displaced. 
Character wear was also a problem.  In programming shops where lots of 
core dumps were taken, the "fuzzy zero" was a common artifact.

Here's a photo of a 501:


It's the bug box in the middle next to the card punch.

Interesting tidbit is that the 501 drum printer took the same ribbon as 
the 512 train printer.  Each ribbon came with a pair of poly gloves for 
handling the filthy thing.


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