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The Almighty Buck Hardware

How Much was a CDC 1604 in the 60's? 41

Posted by Cliff
from the costs-of-computers-in-the-past dept.
An Oxymoran asks: "Greetings Slashdot. A colleague, that is sadly preparing an obituary for a late, great scientist, recently posed the following question: How much did a Control Data Corporation (CDC; Cray predecessor) 1604 cost in the late 60's? Apparently the 1604's controller computer, the 160, cost ~$100K. However, I have failed to turn up a price for the 1604. I would be highly appreciative of any estimates of 1604 prices from the 60's that the collective Slashdot genius can unearth. Thank you."
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How Much was a CDC 1604 in the 60's?

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  • Yes.... (Score:2, Informative)

    by krymsin01 (700838)
    One Miiiiiillion dollars!
  • It was $750,000 (Score:5, Informative)

    by christopherfinke (608750) <chris@efinke.com> on Thursday April 01, 2004 @02:48AM (#8734639) Homepage Journal
    This list [64.233.167.104] (Google cache) has it at $750,000 in 1961.
  • A few references (Score:3, Interesting)

    by toastyman (23954) <toasty@dragondata.com> on Thursday April 01, 2004 @03:01AM (#8734679) Homepage
    This [google.com] claims it's $10m, but it sounds a bit... boasty..

    This [google.com] quotes $34,000/mo.

    Maybe a post to comp.sys.cdc will get you some answers?
  • by azuroff (318072)
    this list [jcmit.com] has it at $1,229,575, or $34,000/month rental.
  • $1.2 million (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    http://www.jcmit.com/cpu-performance.htm

    $1.2 million.

    Please learn to use Google: '"cdc 1604" cost'
  • Make sure you adjust the number you do arrive upon for inflation.
  • by xutopia (469129) on Thursday April 01, 2004 @03:09AM (#8734707) Homepage
    how powerful was it compared to today's desktops?
  • Don't pay ten million dollars or more for a computer from IBM when...

    The CDC 1604 can be yours for five easy payments of just $299,999! Just call the number on your screen!

    BUT WAIT!

    If you order the revolutionary new CDC 1604 within the next seven minutes, we'll knock one full payment off the purchase price! That's right, this revolutionary new computing technology can be yours for just four easy payments of just $299,999! Call now, operators are standing by!
  • CDC Cyber (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sakusha (441986) on Thursday April 01, 2004 @04:26AM (#8734950)
    Well now I feel really old. The first mainframe I ever got an account on was a descendant of the 1604, an early CDC Cyber. Our university's system operators were so proud that they'd rescued this monster CPU from a scrap heap at another university. They got it for free, it was so old and underpowered by the mid 1970s that nobody wanted it, even though it was perfectly usable and in working condition. So they fired it up and gave out free timeshare accounts to students. It made sense to them, it cost nothing to set up and very little to maintain, it ran BASIC and FORTRAN, so they let the students use it freely. In those days, a student account on our IBM 360s was hideously expensive, you got something like $50 worth of CPU cycles, when I finally was permitted to use the 360 (CS class students only) I burned through those $50 of play money in 2 weeks, I offered to pay $50 cash for more CPU time but they wouldn't do it. So I went back to the Cyber.
    • Same thing happened at my school, although we didn't get timeshare accounts... we had to run everything batch with punch cards. (Which we had to pay for ourselves.) Thank god for the card sorter (also donated) since it wasn't that uncommon for somebody to grab your case of cards and play 1000-card-pickup with 'em.
      • LUXURY!

        When I was in school, we used clay tablets for cards. We had to use a cuneiform stylus, and if we ever messed up, the instructor would show us the meaning of "punch" card. And we didn't have a card sorter; we'd wake up before we went to sleep to sort cards for the NSA, and if we ever got one out of order, they'd dequeue all our batch jobs!
        • "We used to code in zeroes and ones, and sometimes we didn't even have ones. I once had to write an entire database using only zeroes."

          "You had zeroes? You were lucky. We had to make do with the letter 'o'..."

    • I used to hang around the unattended Batch Terminal (big thing where you could submit card decks) because one of the first cards in a job deck was the 'account' card. So when the card reader inevitable jammed, there would be crumpled up 'account' cards, complete with password.

      If you knew how to read the holes on said 'account' card you could make a replacement card with someone else's account number on it, to run, say, your big compute-intensive job and use up their time.

  • I remember the CDC 6600 as being $4,500,000 when it was newly introduced. So, the $1 million listed is only for the CPU module. An actual system required maybe 22 "peripheral processors" to handle IO and printing. Then there were hard drives, tape drives, the main console, and card readers.

    The CDC 6600 had a 60-bit word. Memory amounts were expressed in octal. Memory was extremely expensive. If the 6600 had 100,000 octal bytes of memory your organization was rich.
  • I suggest calling Cray [cray.com] Public Relations. If you explain your request, I'm sure they can find Steve Chen or someone who worked with him. Their corporate number is on their website.

    Good luck.

    • Just an FYI, Steve Chen ditched Cray in 1987 to start SSI (Supercomputer Systems Inc...not the game company). When I worked at Cray for a summer in 1997, some of the Cray folks were still peeved about it. As far as Cray goes, they are pretty helpful when you contact them. I spent a half hour on the phone with a marketing person there for a project I was researching and got plenty of info.
  • From MS Research [microsoft.com](of all the places) :-) :

    CDC never seriously marketed the computer as a minicomputer, but a few were sold at a price of over 100,000. Most importantly was that it influenced others to build small computers. Recall that the first computer designs were for word lengths of 40 bits. IBM and Univac were building 36 -bit computers

    But hey, if you are an antique collector, you can get framed CDC Console Disk Controller at here [newbegin.com] [NewBegin] (with pictures)
  • This slashdot thread has reminded me of the good old days of hacking on the CDC 1604. So I took the current release of NetBSD for the VAX and hacked it up to run on the CDC 1604
    I then compiled Apache, loaded up some web pages that I copied off the Internet, and put up a site. You can see it at www.cnn.com

    Moderate this "-1 April" hahahahaha
    Thomas
  • CDC isn't a 'Cray Predecessor' any more than Palm is a 'Handspring Predecessor.' Control Data existed before and after Seymour Cray left to form his own company.

    A little more accuracy is warranted on a site purported to be technically alert.
    • I'd also add that Control Data split into Ceridian [ceridian.com] and Control Data Systems around 1992. Control Data Systems continued with a systems integration focus and support for the CDC hw legacy. Ceridian took the business of payroll processing.

      Control Data Systems was later bought by British Telecom and became (part of?) Syntegra [syntegra.com].

      Read more about it here. [wikipedia.org]

  • Well, I would ask my dad, he worked there off and on for quite a while. In fact he was one of the last 4 (it was around that) when the company went under. He then left and went on to work at Dodge in there maintenence division.

    Note: not the entire company was bought, infact they went from Control Data Corporation to Control Data Systems. They even did some of the wiring for Target stores across the state of Michigan (but not for there own computer systems)

  • The CDC 1604 was a low-end machine. The "predecessor to the Cray" was the CDC 6600, Seymour Cray's design and the first real supercomputer.

    The CDC 6600 had all the modern supercomputer stuff. It was a superscalar RISC machine, with lots of registers and instruction-level parallelism. This in the 1960s.

    I/O was shoved off to ten "peripheral processors", which were really one CPU with hardware multiprogramming emulating ten slower machines. The I/O processors handled all the peripherals. The I/O processo

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