Classic Computer Rescue Squad <delurk>

From: Paul Pierce <>
Date: Thu Nov 6 11:35:06 1997

> From: Bill Yakowenko <>
> After signing up for the Classic Computer Rescue Squad, I started
> thinking, if a big old machine actually needed a rescue, what
> would we do? I mean, maybe we should collect info on how big
> these old things are, in terms of floor-space, tonnage, time to
> dismantle, and so on. Then, when a rescue call comes in, we
> could maybe decide if we can feasibly deal with it, and if anyone
> actually wants the thing. If only three guys show up to dismantle
> 200 tons of vacuum tubes, it isn't gonna happen on-schedule. And
> it's one thing to keep a mini in a corner, but not all of us can
> arrange space for, say, a 360. So there are legitimate (if sad)
> reasons that we might have to pass up a find.

There are a small number of serious collectors and at least one museum
who will make space for a big machine, depending on what it is. Any
vacuum tube machine and most discrete transistor machines are a
no-brainer, someone will want them. They are extremely rare and will in
essentially all cases have been dismantled already. More recent machines
may or may not be worth saving. In all cases with a big installation
make sure there will be a home for it before carrying through with a

Except for a few enormous installations like SAGE or Harvest, all gone
now, a large mainframe will consist of (or can be taken apart into) no
more than 10 large units each of which should fit in a medium size
freight elevator. (Cray's are an exception, the CPU won't come apart.)
There will also be a larger number of smaller peripherals such as disk
drives, tape drives, console, printer, maybe card machines.

One or two people can disassemble and pack a modern (e.g. IBM 370
series) air cooled mainframe in one (long) day. Other cases could take
longer but generally not more than a week. More people is not
necessarily a good thing. Some machines will benefit from specialized
help from the manufacturer or a rigger or specialty moving crew.

Always save all the documentation and software you can get.

Received on Thu Nov 06 1997 - 11:35:06 GMT

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