Monday, September 26, 2005

Remembering those Old Ampex 40MB Disk Drives…

If you're aware of bits of computer history, you've probably heard how people created printouts to play songs on the IBM 1403 printer. The printer made a lot of noise that could be controlled by the forcing its print hammers to hit the character-chain-belt in specific sequences. I remember a very nice 1403 rendition of "She'll be Coming 'Round the Mountain."
Less well known are the Ampex 40MB drives which, for a short time in the 1970's, were the largest reasonably priced drives. They were about the size of a clothes dryer and sat on four wheels. There was enough momentum from the motion of the disk read/write heads to make the drives move. One fellow I knew wrote a program to control them like a remote model car, "driving" them all around the computer room.

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