[TUHS] Compatibility question

Rob Pike robpike at gmail.com
Wed Dec 20 07:34:12 AEST 2023

The night operator for the High Speed Job Stream at the University of
Toronto would nap on top of the 1401. He would be woken by the lid lifting
him up when the printer ran out of paper, an effective alarm clock set to
the computer's cycle.


On Wed, Dec 20, 2023 at 7:34 AM Clem Cole <clemc at ccc.com> wrote:

> Tom smiled while reading that man page: "It is assumed that the TN print
> train is being used."
> I have to wonder how many younger programmers know what a print train is,
> much less what it looked like (or how heavy they were when you
> changed them).  Also, with the loss of the use of real lineprinters, you
> have to wonder if those same folks understand why the asa(1) program that
> POSIX.2 requires is there (although IIRC later *.2 revisions moved it to
> the "FORTRAN Runtime Utilities" as an option POSX2_FORT_RUN - but we had
> it there in the original draft).
> Paul -- you left out the other "feature" -- the noise, which was still
> deafening even with a model N1 and its cover.
> I equate four sounds to my early computing days: the ASR33 printing, a
> 1403 printing, a 1402 reading card, and finally, the constant fan noise in
> the machine room, plus the smell of light machine oil [definitely in a
> terminal room of ASR33s].
> On Tue, Dec 19, 2023 at 1:07 PM Tom Lyon <pugs78 at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Yes, Amdahl UTS supported the 1403 from earliest days.
>> There even seem to be some mods to 'tbl' to support it.
>> On Tue, Dec 19, 2023 at 9:40 AM Paul Winalski <paul.winalski at gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>>> On 12/18/23, Dave Horsfall <dave at horsfall.org> wrote:
>>> > On Mon, 18 Dec 2023, Paul Winalski wrote:
>>> >
>>> >> The 132-character screen width was for displaying files originally
>>> >> formatted to be printed on a line printer.  Compiler listings and
>>> linker
>>> >> maps, for example.
>>> >
>>> > Such as the mighty 1403 :-)
>>> >
>>> > Hint: never leave your cup of coffee on top of it, as the lid will open
>>> > automatically when it runs out of paper...
>>> The 1403 was the best line printer ever made.  It was originally the
>>> printer for the IBM 1400 second-generation (discrete transistor-based)
>>> computer.  It continued to be the line printer for S/360.  The deluxe
>>> model, the IBM 1403 N1, had a power cover that could be operated under
>>> computer control.  The OS/360 operating system would raise the
>>> printer's cover if an error condition occurred, such as out of paper
>>> or a paper jam.  This was a very useful feature in large data centers
>>> where there were several line printers, to indicate which printer had
>>> a problem.
>>> The cover of a 1403 N1 also provided a convenient and attractive flat
>>> surface on which to place things.  But a dangerous one.  Many a card
>>> deck magtape reel, coffee cup, or pizza box has been unceremoniously
>>> dumped on the floor.
>>> When our shop upgraded from a S/360 model 25 to a S/370 model 125, our
>>> 1403 was replaced by a 3203 line printer.  It was not as good as the
>>> 1401 had been.
>>> There was a business in Massachusetts in the 1980s that bought and
>>> sold old IBM computer gear.  A company asked them for a quote on their
>>> IBM 1400 system (1401 processor, 1402 card read/punch, 1403 printer).
>>> They were offered $18,000 for the whole system, or $15,000 for the
>>> 1403 printer alone.  That's how valued those printers were.
>>> To bring this closer on-topic, was there Unix support for the IBM 1403?
>>> -Paul W.
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