CDC 6600. Base model price $6,891,300

(Approx. equivalent of $40 to $50 Million in today's dollars)

This gives a good overall impression of the famous CDC 6600 Supercomputer and some surrounding peripheral equipment.

The large plus-shaped box on the right houses the Central Processor with probably 131K of 60-bit words together with 10 autonomous "peripheral processors" each with their own memory of 4K of 12-bit words.

Two of the arms on the "cross" of the Central Processor hold the central memory, one arm houses the CPU logic, and the fourth arm houses the memory and logic for the 10 Peripheral Processors.

Top left we see two high-speed card-readers (around 1000 cards/minute) and a card-punch.

Bottom left (positioned next to the pillar) there are two line-printers - also capable of between 1000 and 1200 lines/minute.

On the left side of the room are four tape units - probably 1/2 inch 7-track tape at either 556, 600 or 800 bits-per-inch, and a tape speed of around 200 inches/second.

In the center of the room is the operator's console. The dominant feature was two large circular "scopes" reminiscent of the radar screens one sees in movies. These were the displays via which an operator could gain insight into the status and workings of the operating system and the "jobs" under its control. Operator input was via a keyboard. In the earliest machines the two drawers either side of the console were real drawers, but later just became faceplates. Note that the operator's chair as depicted above is not the "correct" chair. The standard chair that came with the machine had orange vinyl covering and wooden armrests.

Bottom right are three disk units. These are the small (!) 14-inch disks which became available later - after the monster 6603 disk unit which had 14 1-metre disks mounted on a horizontal shaft and with hydraulically actuated heads.

At the bottom of the picture, the lady is operating a graphics display tube.

Judging from the architecture of the surroundings, this picture was taken from the mezzanine in "Mod B" of the headquarters building in Bloomington, Minnesota.

Update:   Since creating this page, I received some further information from a correspondent who wrote:

I stared at the picture for several minutes and came to a conclusion that the picture could only have been taken in one place, and that is the lobby of Mod "A". Neither of the other modules, B or C had a mezzanine, only the lobby of Mod "A", the headquarters building. Bill Norris's office would have been right behind the photographer if the photographer was on the 3rd floor.

I worked in that building from 1969 to 1978 and came back many times on business as I worked for CDC in various buildings around the Twin cities. For awhile I had an office that would have been on the other side of the wall on the right side of the picture. That was after the HQ was moved to the new building built on the property west of the "mods".

That picture would have been taken facing west with the front doors under the photographer. To take this picture they would have had to move out the receptionist's desk and move the equipment in that you see in the picture.

The setup is obviously staged since the real systems would have been on raised flooring to support all the A/C and cabling needed.

Return to Home Page