Electronic Design

IBM Stretch Computer Utilization In Business Explained

Expected usefulness of the IBM 7030 Stretch computer for business data processing was described at the 16th National Meeting of the Association for Computing Machinery in Los Angeles, Sept. 5-8. William V. Crowley of the Corp. for Economic & Industrial Research Inc. (CEIR) gave an optimistic appraisal of the potential of the Stretch machine for simultaneous processing of many business problems. CEIR plans to install two of the machines at its computing centers.

Stretch was designed by IBM for complex problems demanding large arithmetic capacity, such as the hydrodynamics problems involved in nuclear work. The first machine was built for the Atomic Energy Commission at Los Alamos, N.M.

Mr. Crowley told his audience that the machine can be used profitably for hundreds of smaller problems simultaneously. Small companies will rent processing time on them from the CEIR center. He asserted that a Stretch system will perform 800 times the operations that could be performed by an IBM 650, for less than 30 times the cost of the 650, or about $1700 per hour. "The economies of Stretch-type computers can be demonstrated as much more advantageous than several large-scale computers operating side by side," Mr. Crowley said.

Stretch was to be delivered to Los Alamos in June, 1960. Due to difficulties, primarily with the half-microsecond memory, which has been discarded in favor of a 2.18-µsec memory, the delivery was delayed until December, and finally until April 1961. (Electronic Design, September 27, 1961, p. 6)

The IBM Stretch computer was a landmark in computer history, and for many years it set the standard for supercomputers. For more information about the computer, visit http://www.brouhaha.com/~eric/retrocomputing/ibm/stretch/.

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