Strange Art Projects: IBM System 370

I was 19 years old once. At the time, I was in school, learning what was necessary to get a real job- my start in a Data Processing career. At the time, the school had an old IBM System 360/40 mainframe. I learned DOS/360 on it (not MS-DOS, but old IBM mainframe DOS). While we were starting our OS/360-MFT class, the school was in the process of moving in a new computer system- the IBM System 370/138. The computer room was shut down for a time, so we learned our $HASP commands on paper, but never really did use those commands "live".

After our final OS/360 exam, I went into the computer room and looked over the new beast. It had a much nicer design and color scheme than the 360, and it did away with the banks and banks of switches. I decided that I wanted to capture it in miniature. At the time, I didn't have a ruler, so I took the measurements in computer cards, and took it home and  punched the numbers into a calculator to get the correct dimensions.

Then I started building it. These are in 1/48 scale, and each one of these boxes is no higher than 1-1/2" (35mm) tall. They are actually tiny little handmade cardboard boxes, with various types of paper (punched computer cards, watercolor paper, mat board) used to simulate the texture of the machines.

It's been many years, but the device names of these machines remain etched in my memory. Sometimes I get downright sentimental about the old days. Nowadays, mainframe systems are sealed in boxes, and are far less hands-on than those old 370s were. You don't turn dials anymore, or punch colored buttons. You type boring commands into a console, and that loads the operating system.

computer room
IBM System 370/138  IBM 370
IBM 3277 Console (much nicer than the 1052 console/typewriter)  IBM 3277
IBM 3330 Disk Drive units, with removable drive packs (a.k.a. disk drives in cake covers)  IBM 3330
IBM 3800-1 Printer, with tiny Willamette box of paper and BTS (burster/trimmer/stacker) attachment  IBM 3800
STC 3650 Tape Drive (STC had a better color scheme than IBM did)  STC 3650
IBM 3480 cartridge unit with controller (this was added to the mini "computer room" much later)  IBM 3480
IBM 2540 card reader, remembering the days before TSO when using decks of cards was the only way to get the system to do anything. (added Feb 2006 at the suggestion of a co-worker)
IBM 2540
Another view of the computer room:

IBM room alternate

This article is Copyright 2000, K.F. Louie. May not be reproduced without the written permission of the author.

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