Taking a Look Inside the IBM 650

Alumni Memories from Les Blumberg

I returned to Rolla in 1964 to work on my MSEE. At the time I was on an educational leave from IBM the school had provided me with an assistantship, so I spent three years working on my degree. This gave me sufficient time to assist the department in acquiring an IBM 650 from IBM. I had asked IBM for a machine we could use at the school, though my thesis was in microwave theory not computers. After many phone calls IBM agreed and sent the EE Department the machine. We placed it in one of the class rooms and then spent a number of hours attempting to get the machine up and running.  This was a plug board machine with punch cards as its input. It was a challenge, especially since IBM did not provide all of the peripheral equipment.

This is a picture of an IBM 650 — not from the university — but I’ve included it here to show how the computer looked inside.

Les Blumberg
BSEE 1962
MSEE 1966


Interior view of an IBM 650 computer

Interior view of an IBM 650 computer


Aerospace Computers and University Computers – 1960s

Alumni Memories from Bruce A. Warren

I graduated with my BSEE in 1969. I took my first programming course in 1966. I have no pictures because I couldn’t afford a camera as a co-op student working alternate semesters at McDonnell-Douglas in St. Louis and paying all my college and living expenses. I got to use the fancy aerospace computers at McDonnell (Gemini was peaking then)… some with CRT terminals and no punch cards!.

At the beginning of my college programming course, we had to turn in the handwritten code sheet and the punch card girls would type in one line on each card and we would pick up the card stack and the printout the next day. Next semester, some punch card machines were made available to students and that made fixing little bugs faster. You could  find the cards that needed editing and write the correct code on them. Then wait in line and punch up the revised cards. Put them back into the stack – in the right order – and then back to the window to turn them in for processing that night. Many days were needed to fix a single bug. The language was Fortran which I found to be very logical and sensible; especially when compared to C++ and the other programming languages I have used since then.

Bruce A. Warren, P.E.
BSEE 1969
Lake Jackson, TX