Open main menu

Talk:IBM 7090

WikiProject Computing / Early (Rated Start-class)
This article is within the scope of WikiProject Computing, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of computers, computing, and information technology on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
Start-Class article Start  This article has been rated as Start-Class on the project's quality scale.
 ???  This article has not yet received a rating on the project's importance scale.
Taskforce icon
This article is supported by Early computers task force.



The 7090 was the first to bear the new 4-digit IBM model numbers. Rumor has it that originally, this transistor version of the vacuum-tubes 709 was to be named 709T, which was pronounced "seven-oh-nine-tee", and thus gave someone the idea to call it seven-oh-ninety, i.e. 7090.

SABER the first beta edition of AA Sabre (computer system) finished in 03/1959 working in a IBM 7090 System and in a final edition in 1962 SABRE on wikipedia spanish--Mnts 00:47, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I believe that rumor to be true. One of my jobs in 1959, at IBM Service Bureau, was to upgrade the IBM 705 program that held the equipment inventory, from 3-digit fields, plus a one-letter type designator (as "T"), to 4-digit fields, and I believe a two-or-three character type designator. That meant we had to invade the card-sequence number field (cols. 73-80), making reversal to a card-based inventory risky. But we and management were brave. Gio @ stanford. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:49, 14 December 2007 (UTC)

Stanford University 7090Edit

The memory system of the 7090 had a local control which included a storage clear button. The machine at Pine Hall was placed so that the memory was towards the rear but the computer operator could be glimpsed by a double reflection. When a certain unpopular programmer had dedicated machine time, one of his enemies would sometimes wait until he heard the card to tape operation finish. The core was then placed in local mode and cleared while the CPU was stalled waiting for the input tape to rewind. If the programmer/operator became suspicious his approach could be detected by watching the reflection in the glass panel which covered the core stack.Rdmoore6 (talk) 22:05, 18 December 2008 (UTC)

Goddard Space Flight Center, NASAEdit

IBM had the contract to operate the 7094s at Goddard during the Apollo Missions thru Apollo 12. One of the most frequent programs ran on these computers were differential correction. Each run took about 2.5 hours to run, which was great for a computer operator going to college. The console of the 7094 could be used to spread out books while doing homework during a differential correction run. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Afoster5728 (talkcontribs) 14:01, 28 February 2009 (UTC)

Wright-Patterson AFB systemEdit

The research labs at Wright-Patterson AFB had a pair of systems, one 7090/7040 lashup, and one 7074/7044 lashup, in the 60s. Played on them quite a bit as a co-op back then.

In the early 70s I worked with a guy at RCA Camden who had been involved with the initial programming the BMEWS computers. Apparently the software was stored in E-core wire ROMs rather than being loaded from media, making debugging and bug fixing a royal PITA. drh 16:17, 10 August 2007 (UTC)

"Daisy" anachronism ??Edit

Our "Notable applications" section says "Daisy" was first perform on a 7094 in 1961, but the earlier section says the 7094 was first installed in September 1962. A YouTube video here also claims a 7094 did it, in 1961. I presume a 7090 might have done it, as they were essentially compatible, assuming speed was not a problem. But can anyone resolve the issue? We could remove the inconsistency from the article by changing 7094 in the daisy item to "7090-series", but that still leaves the possibility that the Sept 1962 date is incorrect for the 7094. Wwheaton (talk) 01:30, 8 September 2010 (UTC)

I see now that our IBM 704 article claims the song was done on a 704, not a 7094, in 1962 at Bell Labs, based on this 1997 www source at Bell Labs. Our 7090 article here has a www external link to Decca Records DL 9103 here, but it claims it was done at Bell Labs in 1960, on a 7090. Wwheaton (talk) 01:51, 8 September 2010 (UTC)

Re: Notable applications: JPLEdit

I worked in SFOF at JPL on Mariner 4 in both "bus" operations and computing, and I'm pretty sure the 7094's on the 2nd floor of SFOF were twin 7094-7044 DCS (Direct Coupled System), not what is stated in IBM_7090#Notable_applications. (I personally didn't know of any other 7094's at JPL.) John Navas (talk) 22:45, 22 February 2011 (UTC)


There is a request for citation regarding the name.

I have always heard it pronounced "seventy-ninety" despite the origins of the number as the 709-T (transistorized). I have no citations, though.

In most "citation requests" I see, they seem obvious enough to me, but in this case I would really like a real citation. Gah4 (talk) 18:30, 8 August 2013 (UTC)

My recollection is the same as yours, but here is a link [1] to a much younger Fernando J. Corbató in 1960 explaining timesharing and he pronounces it "seven-oh-ninety," (at 8:12) as does the announcer in the beginning. I'll try to work that in.--agr (talk) 20:23, 8 August 2013 (UTC)
I did some Googling in hope of finding something concerning the naming and found this entire article as-is here and was wondering if it was copied from there or is it vice-versa?--Bolbololo (talk) 15:14, 12 May 2016 (UTC)
I was about to comment on this, when I see that I did five years ago. The article seems to indicate that it is always pronounced as seven-oh-ninth, and it is likely that some people did. The ones I know called it seventy-ninety, and likely some said all four digits.

Alphanumeric characters are six-bit BCD, packed six to a word.Edit

The article says Alphanumeric characters are six-bit BCD, packed six to a word.. As well as I know, for the 7090 and many others of the time, the character/word format is all software. While I suspect that once a format is selected, it is popular enough to indicate here, I wonder in general. Gah4 (talk) 00:09, 28 August 2018 (UTC)

Not entirely defined by software. This was the time of 7-track tape drives (really six data bits + parity), printers with 48-character sets, and keypunches and card readers that similarly knew nothing of lower case. The 7090 and similar machines were not often connected to printers or card readers, rather a machine like a 1401 would copy cards to tape and print records from tape to printer so the 7090 was not slowed down by dealing with such menial devices (multitasking "spooling" programs being in their infancy). But in any case it would have been hard to get anything but six-bit characters in IBM's "BCD" coding into or out of a 7090... hard, at least, with any device IBM could have sold you at the time.
Heck, even ASCII with its 94 printing characters didn't come along until 1963. So although programs running on the 7090 could certainly have dealt with four eight-bit characters in a word (and four bits left over), there really wasn't any way to use that capability, and people stuck with the six-bit BCD codes displayed in the IBM manuals - codes that they would see in data read from the card reader and which, when sent to a 1403 printer, would generate the expected text. Jeh (talk) 06:07, 28 August 2018 (UTC)
I was thinking about the way the 704 reads cards, row by row into two 36 bit words. I suppose I am not sure the 7090 does that. I hadn't thought about tape. Are there any instruction for processing specifically six bit data? Gah4 (talk) 12:46, 28 August 2018 (UTC)


In an edit summary, someone wrote: The noun IBM 7090 is singular as is 709, 360, 370, 3033, 3090, 4341, z/90 et al. Specifically, the terms refer to the general architecture of the system, and not any specific implementation. That is also why the terms are used in the present tense, unless they are used in the context of an event. There could be some cases referring to multiple specific machines that would be plural. Gah4 (talk) 01:35, 3 October 2018 (UTC)

Return to "IBM 7090" page.