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You have been outbid...

Bother. I spotted an emergency power off panel from an IBM 1602 on eBay over the weekend, and was out-sniped within the last ten seconds (I'd set my snipe for 29 seconds, figuring that there wasn't likely to be a great deal of interest in a 3kg block of metal). On the plus side, the postage would have cost me the best part of USD50.

For those of you that might be wondering why I'd want an obsolete IBM boat anchor, might I refer you to one of autopope's stories, particularly the last four paragraphs.

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Not what you think it is...

Because of someone's faulty memory or a typing error, the object in question does not belong to the "CADET". The Can't-Add-Doesn't-Even-Try machine is the IBM 1620, a decimal, variable-word-length machine introduced at about the same time as the 1401. (Google it for lots of photos and information). But thanks to internet plagiarism, the error has propagated like a case of herpes, even into several languages.

What the 1602 is/was, is unknown to me (and probably to most IBM veterans). My best guess is that it was a coupler between two pieces of unit-record gear, say a 620 calculating punch and a 407 accounting machine. But that's just a guess. I can find no record of it in the online IBM archives.

Re: Not what you think it is...

I'd already suspected as much; I'd spent quite a while looking through the IBM archives and other sources. I don't know enough about old IBM kit to have been able to hazard a guess as to what it coupled, but your suggestion makes sense.

There's also a separate issue relating to this quote from the Stross: "[...] the 1602 was one of the last computers built to run on tubes: I’ve probably blown half its circuit boards." The 1620 used RTL logic, not valves, so this is either authorial license for the sake of a better story, or a simple mistake.

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