Technician keeps computer made in 1959 still humming along

A recent news article on Tadao Hamada, who is keeping a FACOM128B operational.

The FACOM128B is a relay-based computer, so if you watch the embedded video, be prepared for a lot of noise!

From the article:

NUMAZU, Shizuoka Prefecture–Long obsolete and not just a museum piece, an early massive computer developed 60 years ago remains working, thanks to a technician dedicated to preserving it for future generations.

Tadao Hamada believes that keeping the historic FACOM128B operational will help hand down Japan’s technological heritage to posterity.“I will maintain it forever,” said Hamada, 49.

Hamada, an employee of Fujitsu Tokki Systems Ltd., a Fujitsu Ltd. subsidiary, works at a plant here to preserve the aged computer, which weighs three tons. It makes rattling sounds each time it makes a calculation by opening and closing switches using an electromagnet.


That’s fantastic! Building a relay computer is one of the things on my ever growing to-do list, maybe one day, but it’s a long way down the list…

Noting the comment:

“If the computer does not work, it will become a mere ornament,”

I do feel (mostly) that way about old stuff myself - far better they are brought out and made to work than sat behind glass cases.



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This is the sound of the future – at least according to 1950s science fiction. :slight_smile:


This is a great find. I don’t think I ever knew there were any commercial relay computers.

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I have a copy of the Bell Systems history volume covering computing (unfortunately it’s in my office so I can’t look up the details right now), and they claim to have sold access to a number of relay computers via Teletype, as well as installed a few for customers. I think they were more along the lines of programmable calculators than stored program computers, of course.


Since I have trouble finding room for an Arduino, think I will hold off on the relay computers!

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I’m reminded of Harry Porter’s relay computer:

Here’s the HN discussion on the ‘humming along’ news piece:

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