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The Evolution of the IBM 1400 Series By Ira Smolev

January 14, 2013

First introduced in 1959, the IBM 1401 Data Processing System consisted of a stored-program transistor-logic computer. One of the company’s first general purpose computers, the system replaced accounting machines and calculators at an affordable price of $2,500 per month. IBM sold and rented thousands of 1401s before developing the 1410, 1440, and 1460. Initially, the 1400 series relied on machine or assembly languages, but it evolved over the years to run on Autocoder; FORTRAN; and Report Program Generator (RPG), a high-level, business-oriented programming language.

A constant innovator, IBM eventually announced the release of its IBM System/360 in 1964. Marketed in large part to users of the 1400 series, the 360 series offered radically increased performance levels and a greater memory capacity all in a single system. The new computer also marked a distinct shift from the 1400 series in terms of its internal architecture. Finally, the 360 series featured a greater range of applications and appealed to even more professionals in business, government, and science.

About the author: An early systems engineer, Ira Smolev wrote the conversion utility program that allowed IBM to convert its 1400 series applications into 360 assembly language. Smolev also installed IBM’s first 360 computer purchased by a private consumer.

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