#TBT! What computers looked like in the 1950s and 60s (hint: HUGE)

Dr. William F. Atchison, head of the electronic computer center at Georgia Tech, on March 29, 1959. Photo: Kenneth Rogers

Dr. William F. Atchison, head of the electronic computer center at Georgia Tech, on March 29, 1959. Photo: Kenneth Rogers

“FINALLY,” I huffed when the iPhone SE launched. The thought of trading from my 5s to the 6, or even worse that ginormous 6-plus, was giving me the vapors. I usually have my MacBook Pro with me as well, but sometimes pair my iPad Mini with my 1byone foldable Bluetooth keyboard instead since my phone and laptop together (plus power brick) are SO HEAVY.

Well just imagine hauling these contraptions around. Behold: Atlanta’s tech scene circa 1950s/60s:

Programmer Woodrow W. Jackson, seated, and Dr. E. K. Ritter director of the Rich Electronic Computer Center at Georgia Tech on Oct. 24, 1955. The piece by Floyd E. Jillson was titled “The Electric Brain.”

MORE FLASHBACK FOTOS

You know how sometimes you like to text whilst smoking your pipe? In the above photo are programmer Woodrow W. Jackson, seated, and Dr. E. K. Ritter, director of the Rich Electronic Computer Center at Georgia Tech on Oct. 24, 1955. The piece by Floyd E. Jillson was titled “The Electric Brain.”

All of these photos are from the AJC’s Archives by the way. Noodling through old photos is my favorite thing to do on my modern gadgetry.

Electronics engineer Charles P. Reed Jr. replaces a chassis in the storage section of the ERA 1101 at Georgia Tech on Oct. 24 1955.

When my phone janks out I power it off, count to 10 and power it back on. Problem solved! But electronics engineer Charles P. Reed Jr. had a more complicated time fixing bugs. He’s shown here replacing a chassis in the storage section of the “ERA 1101” at Georgia Tech on Oct. 24 1955.

Dr. William F. Atchison, head of the electronic computer center at Georgia Tech, on March 29, 1959. Photo: Kenneth Rogers

Photo: Kenneth Rogers

Dr. William F. Atchison, head of the electronic computer center at Georgia Tech, on March 29, 1959. I don’t know what’s going on here in this action shot. He appears to be examining vacuum tubes.

You know how you'll get an alert saying you're almost out of memory, so you have do delete some of the cat videos off your desktop? I'm pretty sure that is nothing like what Willaim A. Bezaire, chief electronics engineer, examines the magnetic storage drum memory of the ERA 1101 on Oct. 24, 1955.

You know how you’ll get an alert saying you’re almost out of memory, so you have to delete some of the cat videos off your desktop? I’m pretty sure that is nothing like what William A. Bezaire, chief electronics engineer at Georgia Tech, was doing on Oct. 24, 1955. He’s shown here “examining the magnetic storage drum memory of the ERA 1101,” according to the cutline on this vintage photo above.

Social networking! The “Datatron 220” console drew a crowd to the computer room at Georgia Tech on March 2, 1959. Photo: Kenneth Rogers

Photo: Kenneth Rogers

Social networking! The “Datatron 220” console drew a crowd to the computer room at Georgia Tech on March 2, 1959.

By the 1960s punch cards were the latest word in tech savviness. Gary Carswell, left, and Herman Long check computer punch cards at Georgia State on Nov. 27, 1968.

By the 1960s punch cards were the latest word in tech savviness. Gary Carswell, left, and Herman Long check computer punch cards at Georgia State on Nov. 27, 1968.

Visiting school officials Reid Gillis, from left, George Woodruff, William Wells and Gordon Howell, seated, check Georgia State University’s computer on Aug 21, 1966. Photo: Robert Connell

Photo: Robert Connell

Check out this touch screen fellas! Visiting school officials Reid Gillis, from left, George Woodruff, William Wells and Gordon Howell, seated, check Georgia State University’s computer on Aug 21, 1966.

Instructor Betty Cilsick checks exam results in the Georgia State College computer room on Oct. 27, 1965.

Instructor Betty Cilsick checks exam results in the Georgia State computer room on Oct. 27, 1965.

Georgia State University's Assistant Director of Student Information Systems, Mark Elliott, and Registrar Jim Greene, on April 2, 1985. Photo: Nick Arroyo

Photo: Nick Arroyo

The clunky dinosaurs on the desks of Georgia State University’s Assistant Director of Student Information Systems, Mark Elliott, and Registrar Jim Greene, were probably considered sleek and trendy on April 2, 1985.

Oh the wonders of computers! Here is someone's computerized bridal registry at Rich's on March 25, 1983. Photo: Louie Favorite

Photo: Louie Favorite

Oh the wonders of computers! Here is someone’s computerized bridal registry at Rich’s on March 25, 1983.

Emily Rogers and her children, of Gainesville, use their family’s first home computer on Oct. 9, 1990. “Up to now, most computers were aimed at serious users, now even people who were afraid of computers are buying them,” the caption read. Photo: Peter Schumacher.

Photo: Peter Schumacher.

Imagine gathering around the family computer, in the days when there was just one in the house! Emily Rogers and her children, of Gainesville, use their family’s first home computer on Oct. 9, 1990. “Up to now, most computers were aimed at serious users, now even people who were afraid of computers are buying them,” the caption read when this photo ran the first time.

Reader Comments 0

5 comments
Laurie Allen Smoot
Laurie Allen Smoot

I remember my first programming job in the 90's. Half the space on the floor I was on was dedicated to our mainframe servers.

BurroughstonBroch
BurroughstonBroch

The mainframe computers could restart very quickly after an interruption. Today's distributed systems can take days to weeks to restart.

What is new is not always an improvement.

Bonnie Chase
Bonnie Chase

Yep my husband used to work with them back in the day.

btgt69
btgt69

As a student at GT from 1966 thru 1970 (academic redshirt) BCE, I well remember the Rich computer center. I could not type much less key punch. Fortunately my wife was a key puncher for GMAC. However, the only time we could use the computer to test our programs was after "business hours". Thus many late nights, early mornings  were spent waiting in line in the lab. Ahhhh, "the good ole days" !