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Retirement video for the Philco 212 Mainframe Computer (youtube.com)
20 points by MagicPropmaker on Nov 26, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 13 comments

"After Philco was purchased by Ford Motor Company, the Model 212 was introduced in 1962[19] and released in 1963. It had 65,535 words of 48-bit memory. Initially made with 6-microsecond core memory, it had better performance than the IBM 7094 transistor computer. It was later upgraded in 1964 to 2-microsecond core memory, which gave the machine floating-point performance greater than the IBM 7030 Stretch computer. A Model 213 was announced in 1964 but never built. By that time competition from IBM had made the Philco computer operations no longer profitable for Ford, and the division was closed down.[20][21]

The Model 212 could carry out a floating-point multiplication in 22 microseconds. Each word contained two 24-bit instructions with 16 bits of address information and eight bits for the opcode. There were 225 different valid opcodes in the Model 212; invalid opcodes were detected and halted the machine. The CPU had an accumulator register of 48 bits, three general-purpose registers of 24 bits, and 32 index registers of 15 bits. Main memory size ranged from 4K words to 64K words. Only the first model had a magnetic drum memory; later editions used tape drives.

The Model 212 weighed about 6,500 pounds (3.3 short tons; 2.9 t)."

--Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philco_computers)

So, for multiplication at least, the 212 was capable of 0.045 MFLOPS and 15.4 FLOPS/kg.. FLOPS/kg seems like a fun stat that we should probably calculate more often. The Earth's global computing capacity at the end of 2015 was estimated to be up 1.5e21 FLOPS[1], so the entire planet, elephants, mountains and all, produces just 0.00025 FLOPS/kg.. It seems like it might be a little while before the Earth has a higher computing power to weight ratio than this mainframe did, but probably not too much longer. It is just a piddly 16 doublings after all.


> FLOPS/kg seems like a fun stat that we should probably calculate more often.


Trying to do a back-of-a-napkin calculation on a Haswell core (~ 500 GFLOPS), but what is the weight of a 1000-pin BGA? Maybe 20 grams? That would put it at 2.5e+13 FLOPS/Kg

The vast bulk of that 20 grams is packaging, the die is probably less than 1 gram.

I wonder what old techies think/thought about being forced to wear suits/ties.

I’ll take a suit and tie that I can remove as soon as I get behind the closed door of my private office over a kegerator, shorts, and an open office hellscape. A piece of cloth around your neck wasn’t the only thing the old days had to offer.

I used to keep a suit and a spare shirt and tie in the office when I worked for a bit Uk company not that long ago.

Used to work at a place with a strict dress code. Despite me being a designer and despite us working in a grotty little office with no visitors, suits and ties were mandatory.

We had a couple of shared ties we’d drag out whenever we had a meeting with the chief exec. They were coffee stained and chewed but we were wearing ties and that was all that mattered to him.

I worked for a company that had a pile of laundered white shirts and blouses lying around solely for picture day.

Precisely. I used to work at a “have to wear a tie” place. Guess how often that tie came out of my messenger bag. “Hey, that big client is coming today...”

Looking at old pictures is not a reliable way to suss the day-to-day of “the old days”, any more than looking at your Facebook pictures indicates how much you drink/eat/rock climb.

What struck me is that somebody had time to code all those visual and audio effects (which may have taken days or at least hours, given the hardware). I can't see something like that happening in today's Agile world. The people in the video, despite their suits and ties, seem freer than us.

I think the visual and audio effects are implemented by reusing the test programs. Just like late 80s home computers and today's microcontrollers, a basic visual and audio demo was pretty common on large computers back to those days. But yeah, it still may have taken days or at least hours.

Some of the pics of really early computers show people in Lab coats and given the amount of fast rotating machinery in old kit ties might not be that safe.

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