Vintage computers Toronto TTC CBC

Vintage computers and technology in Toronto

As I've mentioned before, one of the best parts of digging around the Toronto Archives is the stuff you find that you were never looking for. I'd guess that at least a third of the ideas I've had for historical posts about the city have come via some serendipitous discovery or another. Today's installment certainly fits this bill.

When I was putting together a post about what banks used to look like in Toronto, I happened to stumble upon some spectacular, Kubrick-esque shots of an unidentified computer room that got me wondering if there were any more like them in the City's digitized collection. As it turns out, there are — though not as many as I'd like.

Not being much of an expert on old computers, the little collection below is organized by aesthetics more than anything else. The technology used by the TTC, CBC and chartered accountants featured below is obviously quite different, but its size and design (not to mention the way that it's been photographed) places it within a particular historical context that's been all the rage since Mad Men took off a few years ago.

Because it seems compulsory to note just how rudimentary some of these computing systems were, here's some of the specs on the processing power of the IBM System 360 seen below: "The slowest System/360 models announced in 1964 ranged in speed from 0.0018 to 0.034 million instructions per second (MIPS); the fastest System/360 models were approximately 50 times as fast with 8 kB and up to 8 MB of internal main memory, though the latter was unusual, and up to 8 megabytes of slower Large Core Storage (LCS). A large system might have 256 kB of main storage." By contrast, the Intel Core i7 Extreme Edition (990x) does 159,000 MIPS at 3.46 GHz.

Well, at least according to Wikipedia — which is about as far as my will to research this subject goes. I just really like the pictures...

TTC control room

TTC controls for Davisville and Eglinton Station, 1953/54

Toronto Pumping Station

Control Room, Toronto Central Pumping Station, 1960s

Vintage Computers Toronto

Computer room at unidentified bank, 1960s

Vintage Computers Toronto

Computer room at unidentified bank, 1960s

Vintage Computers Toronto

Computer room at Winspear, Higgins and Stevenson chartered accountants , 1960s

Vntage Computers Toronto

Computer room at Winspear, Higgins and Stevenson chartered accountants, 1960s

Vintage Computers Toronto

CBC Control Room, 1960s

Vintage Computers Toronto

CBC Control Room, 1960s

Control Room TTC

TTC Control Room, 1967

Control Room TTC

TTC Control Room, 1965

Control Room TTC

TTC Control Room, 1965

Control Room TTC

TTC Control Room, 1967

Photos from the Toronto Archives


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