Hursley Museum

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Hursley Museum

IBM Hursley Museum

The museum at IBM Hursley Park exists to help preserve IBM's historical heritage. It contains artefacts from the Hursley Park location as well as hardware from the company's beginnings through to many of the products developed at Hursley over the years. Staff on-site can visit the museum at any time. Customer groups are often shown around the Museum during visits to the Executive Briefing Centre but due to its location in the IBM development laboratory the Museum is not open to the general public. However visits by organised groups can be, and are, arranged. Visitors have included several branches of the University of the Third Age (U3A), Chichester College,OGLE, the Computer Conservation Society, the National Museum of Computing, Bletchley Park, schools, colleges and many others. Applications for such visits should be made via our contact page.

Hursley's Museum is located in several rooms on the lower ground floor of Hursley House. From time to time there are also various displays in the Hursley House library. There is also a display area in the Bristol Office, where Cloudant staff are based, and in Manchester.

416 Tabulator from Oslo

Improved Museum Rooms

By March 2018, most of the display rooms were changed significantly. Many of the artefacts received from IBM Norway were put straight out on display. The Origins of IBM displays are now spread over two rooms, one covering Punch Card technology, the other time clocks, recorders and pre-IBM computing. The Hursley room now has a System/370 console, reflecting Hursley's participation in the development of that series, and this room has subsequently been rearranged to accomodate new artefacts like the 4691 'Moonshine' Leisure Terminal. The PC room has been completely rearranged, as has the room once containing ThinkPads and the Office Products room. Some larger items of Unit Record equipment fill the gaps.

CICS 50th Anniversary

2019 marked 50 years since CICS - Customer Information Control System - was released, on the 8th July 1969. Initial development took place at an IBM Development Centre in Des Plaines, Illinois, beginning in 1966, to address requirements from the public utility industry. This was launched as PU-CICS - Public Utility Customer Information Control System in 1968. The first release of CICS as a Programme Product dropped the PU, acknowledging its wider applicability. Development moved to Palo Alto, but was not considered as a strategic product. IBM decided to stop development to concentrate on IMS, and Hursley picked up responsibility in 1974 in exchange for PL/I. CICS core development work has continued ever since and is still an important part of Hursley's mission today.

50 Years Since Apollo 11

Instrument Unit

Instrument Unit

July 1969 also saw the first moon landing by the crew of Apollo 11. Nasa upgraded its ground-based IBM mainframes in 1968, the year before Apollo 11, to an IBM System/360 Model 50, which cost USD45K per month to rent. IBM also built the Instrumentation Ring or Instrument Unit (IU) to a NASA design. This was placed on the top of the third stage of the Saturn V and contained all the guidance, control and sequencing hardware for the main launch vehicle. This was largely developed in Federal Systems Division and built in Huntsville, Alabama. The IU was the nerve centre for the launch vehicle, determining when to fire the rocket motors, when to jetisson them and where to point them. Equipment included devices to sense altitude, acceleration, velocity and position, and the computer that laid out the desired course and give instructions to the engines to steer Saturn V on that course.

The IU weighed a little over 2 tons, with a diameter of about 6 Metres and a height of one metre. The electronics were liquid cooled using a water / methanol mix. There were three sub-systems in the IU: Launch Vehicle Digital Computer (LVDC), Launch Vehicle Data Adapter (LVDA) and an analogue flight computer. LVDC hardware had a 2.0448 MHz clock and 32K x 28-bit RAM.

There's an interesting article from the BCS here, covering other aspects of the computing used for the moon landings. We have also produced our own trifold which can be downloaded here.

A Significant Find - S/360 Model 20

In April 2019 an eBay listing appeared advertising an IBM System/360 Model 20 and peripherals for sale in Germany. Two volunteers at TnMOC, Adam Bradley and Chris Blackburn followed this up, purchased a whole computer room full of IBM hardware, moved it into storage near Nuremberg, and in November 2019 shipped it all to the UK. The find also includes a System/370 model 125. They hope to restore this equipment to working order. Their story so far is told here, with the shipping phase well documented here.