Core Memory

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Above: The first magnetic core memory, from the IBM 405 Alphabetical Accounting Machine. The photo shows the single drive lines through the cores in the long direction and fifty turns in the short direction. The cores are 150 mil inside diameter, 240 mil outside, 45 mil high. This experimental system was tested successfully in April 1952.

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Of course IBM 360 core memory was much more advanced and denser. The photo shows a magnetic core plane of the type used in the 360.

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The IBM 2361 Core Storage Module housed 16K bytes of core memory. You can see the core plans (and the individual cores, i.e. bits) through the glass doors.

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Core memory diagram, illustrating coincident current selection. The half-select current applied through the indicated vertical and horizontal lines are each too small to switch the cores through which they pass. The one core in the center of the figure is switched, however, by the coincidence of the two currents. A former IBM employee tells me that when IBM first decided to manufacture core memory, they consulted with the Lifesaver company on fabrication methods.

Source: [4].


Frank da Cruz / fdc@columbia.edu / Columbia University Computing History / Jan 2001