Information Technology

Engineering 1977 - 1980

Minicomputers and peripherals
Control Data (CDC) Cyber 17, Cyber 18

PACT minicomputer
Cartridge Disk Drives
Storage Media Drives
Tape (VCTT) Drives
Card Readers
1977 - 1980

- Israel (Haifa), Germany, Thailand (Bangkok)
In the 70s, Electronics was considered the world's most sought technology. Computers were somewhat holy and were housed in large air-conditioned rooms on "floating floors".

Control Data Corporation (CDC) Cyber18 minicomputer system

Unlike today's micros, 16-bit processors were built with "Large Scale Integrated" (LSI) circuit and "bit slice" technology. Such processors were found only in so called "mini-computers", the likes of the CDC's Cyber17 or the PACT, designed and built in Israel, by Elbit Computers.

Elbit Computer Reliability
Elbit 10 MB Disk Drive
Elbit 300 MB SMD
Elbit Tape Drive
Elbit Pact Processing Unit
The PACT peripherals were the Cartridge Disk Drives and Tape (Vacuum Column Tape Transport) Drives for software and data storage. The disk drives had two magnetic platters, one fixed and one removable (in a cartridge) with a total capacity of no more than 10MB (!). Lager disk drives, called Storage Media Drives (SMDs) had a total capacity of 300MB (!), in large and heavy removable packs, containing up to ten magnetic platters.

Other peripherals used for data and programs storage and loading were Card Readers for IBM punched cards or Shugart 8 inch flexible diskettes, IBM (ball) printer, Centronics "matrix printers" or the larger and faster "line printers" 300, 600 or 1200 Lines per minute (!) driven either by a drum or a chain that pressed-printed the letters through an inked ribbon.

In April 1980, I spent three (3) weeks in Bangkok, training a team of Customer Support Engineers of the local CDC company. I taught them "Olympus"; a proprietary interpretive language that offered low level commands, but had the look and feel of Basic; useful for writing ad hoc diagnostic utilities that helped calibrating peripheral hardware, or identifying eventual malfunction.

In the photo below:
CDC Bangkok Customer Support Engineers
and in the background:
PACT Mini Computer
Operator's desk console and keyboard,
600 LPM Line-printer on the left,
10MB Disk drive on the right.