IBM's second commercial computer (the first was the 650). Introduced in 1959 and offered until the early 1970s, the 1401 was an outstanding success. More than 18,000 units were installed, an immense number of computers back then. The 1401 had 16KB of six-bit core memory and six tape drives. All input was on punch cards, and all output was printed. There was no display screen. In 1960, IBM introduced the larger 1410 with 80KB of memory.
For migration later on, 1401 emulators were built into the System/360 series, IBM's first family of computers. Taken down for maintenance many hours a month while IBM service technicians cleaned and tested its innards, the 1401 was very reliable for its time.
Stand-Alone or a Peripheral
The 1401 was used as a stand-alone computer in many companies but was also used in large enterprises as an input/output peripheral to larger IBM computers. Equipped with card readers and card punch devices, the 1401 was often used in the datacenter to transfer cards to tape and print the results from the tapes after they were updated. For a personal story relating to the 1401, see software bloat
. See IBM 701
, IBM 650
The 1401 was very successful. Its architecture and machine language were simple and straightforward. (Image courtesy of IBM.)