THINK, 1950

I’ve recently had cause to be thinking about the R1 computer and its uses, which led to me idly wondering what was the earliest Rice computer picture I’d ever seen. I think it’s this one, showing President Houston (in the sharp double-breasted suit) at an IBM demonstration in February of 1950:

The gentleman to the right of Houston looks familiar but I can’t place him. Anyone?

I’ve had this image for a long time, several years at least, but I couldn’t find anything to say about it because the only thing I knew was that it was taken in 1950. Not long ago, however, the Houston Chronicle finally began digitizing their archives and I can get access to them through Fondren Library’s database collection. That’s where I found this, which allows us to see what the occasion was:

I think the machine they were looking at must have been this one.

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10 Responses to THINK, 1950

  1. Well, how about that!

  2. almadenmike says:

    >> I think the machine they were looking at must have been this one (the IBM Card-Programmed Electronic Calculator).

    Good deduction from the photo:


  3. Richard Schafer says:

    I find amusing the 1620 Main Street address of that IBM location, given that the IBM 1620 computer was an early IBM computer, announced in 1959.

    • effegee says:

      The IBM 1620 was also the computer available to Rice undergraduates for coursework (ENGI 240) in the spring of 1970. Quite a few graduating seniors were sweating bullets to complete that course which became a degree requirement for many S-E BA’s that spring.

  4. marmer01 says:

    No doubt they had a whole bunch of those signs, printed on a stack of paper glued together to form a tear-off stack. They called it the IBM Think Pad.

  5. Don Johnson says:

    When I saw the photo, I thought the unit being displayed to Houston looked too short to be a card punch, a card reader or the computer. Looking around the Web, I found a better image of the entire computer.
    What Houston was looking at was the exciting “Type 941 Storage Unit”. The rest of the computer’s four components must have been wrapped around the corner of the room.
    Why wasn’t Richard Schaefer all over this?

  6. Richard Miller (BA '75 MEE '76) says:

    But bear in mind they actually controlled access to a wired panel. Bear in mind that these unit record machines did most of the business data processing up till the mid sixties. My first boss at BCM came up programming//running these machines for BCM to do all of the financial work for the college. Much of the initial implementation of business data processing followed methods original developed for the unit record devices.

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