Log of 2011 events
and Succeeding

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March 17, 2011
May 2013

This is not a complete list of activities -

- I (Ed Thelen) show up at CHM most Wednesdays,
- The RAMAC crew meets on various days as convenient.

March 17, 2011

RAMAC has been installed in the R|EVOLUTION desplay area, enclosed in glass
Mason Williams (right) discussing with Dave Bennet (center)
Dick Oswald (between)
John Best's Control box (invisible in the shadow) has white connecting cable attached.
The rear of the RAMAC desplay, showing
  • the key switch which controls power switchs (not shown) for the RAMAC drive motors and the air compressor.
  • the two jacks connecting the RAMAC sensors and comtrols with John Best's Control Box (out of view)

May 2013

Subject: Bruce Allen's Visit May 1st
Date: May 16, 2013 1:29:47 PM PDT
To: Dick Oswald , Joe Feng , John Best , 
Mason Williams 
Cc: Bruce Allen , Robert Garner , Al Hoagland , 
Dag Spicer 

We had a great visit with Bruce, who had a lot of RAMAC experience both as a final test tech 
and as a CE in the field, especially at Boeing, which had several RAMACs.  His wife, Sheryl, 
had worked for Control Data on the peninsula, and she was also a very interested visitor to CHM.

Bruce gave us the following RAMAC goodies:

. A large chassis with vacuum tube sockets
. A very pristine looking RAMAC disk from a 10 million character RAMAC
. Upper head
. Lower head
. Track potentiometer
.  Index pulse read head
. 2 Single tube pluggable unit with vacuum tubes
. 8 Single tube pluggable unit without tubes
. 4 - 2 tube pluggable units with vacuum tubes
. 2 tube pluggable unit without tubes 
. Capacitor pluggable unit
. Neon tube pluggable unit
. Pin Vise
. Arm clamp
. 85 Program loading (special RAMAC) punch cards

There were also two things that are not RAMAC related:
. Type B1 typewriter repair manual
. Technology memento - memory cores and a small discrete transistor in a lucite block.

All these things are in the museum's receiving process, and the RAMAC pieces will go to 
the RAMAC team as a special "study collection," for our use.

The disk was one that had been replaced, presumably because of a head crash, 
but it only shows light burnish marks on both sides.  
It is one of the most pristine RAMAC disks that I have ever seen and it is still 
in the original carton as supplied with replacement parts.  
The pin vise was used with a small wire to clean out the six air holes at the bottom of the heads.  

Bruce had been a CE at Boeing where they had several RAMACs.

Bruce gave us some insights about RAMAC that were new to me:

- Regarding multiple actuators, he said that multiple actuators were fairly common.  
At Boeing they had at least one RAMAC with two actuators, each of which was connected 
to a separate processor.  He also  said that they had one with four actuators, 
but he wasn't sure whether or not multiple processors were involved with that one.

- Head crashes were not terribly common but they were not unheard of.  The most common cause 
was the short piece of air tubing attached to the head becoming hard, 
so that it would not flex properly and the  head would become cocked.  
Also if an air hole on the underside of the head got plugged, it could cause a crash.

- They very often slid the actuator assembly out on the "trolley," to service the heads.  
They never removed the arm as we would have to do.  

-  The DeVilbiss air compressor was mounted in its own box, rather than being in the base of the unit.  
This box is clearly visible in the photo on the reader rail at CHM.  
   It is to the left of the operator console
Bruce wasn't sure that the later Bell & Gosset compressor (10 million character RAMAC) 
was always in the RAMAC main frame as I observed in Denmark.

- Bruce was a RAMAC system final test technician on the line in Building 5 beginning in 1957.  
The first system he checked out was #13, which went to Square D Company.  
In the adjacent test cell at the  time was #8, which was the system that went to the 
Brussels World's Fair.  That system had special white covers.

- The RAMAC printer was very slow and not that great, so there was an RPQ 
that put a 407 accounting machine (big machine) in its place.  It was a popular fix.

Bruce, it was great to visit with you and many thanks for all the goodies.  
Please let me know if I've got my facts wrong in this note.

I apologize that it has taken me so long to finish this.