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Some History

 Last updated 22 Jun 2015

The Sydney Chapter of the IBM Quarter Century Club was inaugurated on 5th May 1946 with other states and Territories following.

We are an association of people who have worked for IBM for at least 25 years, subdivided into a number of. Chapters by geographic area.  Each Chapter is an autonomous, non-profit making social club run by, and dedicated to, those IBM QCC members in their area who wish to socialize with and foster the friendships they have made in IBM.  

To become a member of a Chapter, first one must qualify for the IBM Quarter Century Club as defined by IBM, then the QCC Member contacts the local Chapter.  Membership of a Chapter is voluntary.  Contact details are given below and you will also find a page dedicated to each chapter with details of activities and how to join in.

Most IBM Australia QCC members have spent all of their IBM service time in various Australian IBM organizations but some have spent part of their IBM service in other countries.  Overseas service time has usually been accepted as part of the 25 year qualifying period, however IBM is the ultimate arbiter.  About 40% of our number are still active in IBM; the rest have moved on to other organizations or have retired.

The Chapters represented here are self funding but receive encouragement and support from IBM Australia Limited as they are seen as fostering and continuing the core beliefs and principles of IBM in the wider community.  

So what does my membership get me?

As an IBM Quarter Century Club member residing in Australia (that is, you have worked for IBM for 25 years or more), you and your partner are invited to our annual induction dinner held in November/December of each year.  This event is funded by IBM Australia.

In addition, if you join the local Chapter of the IBM Quarter Century Club, you will be invited to their Chapter meetings and social events.  These events are funded through contributions made by members and may be subsidised by Chapter funds.

Joining a Chapter

If you are an IBM Quarter Century Club Member residing in Australia, no matter where in the world you qualified, then your local Chapter will welcome you into their fold.  All you need to do is contact a member of the nearest Chapter and ask how to join.  More detail may be found in the page for the relevant Chapter.

IBM QCC Members List

A list of IBM QCC Members in Australia is compiled each year in November and distributed to State Contacts. Soft copy is available to IBM QCC members only on request from the IBM HR contact or from the Webmaster. See the Contacts page. Please note that the list does not contain contact details; just name and date qualified.

What is it?

Image-01  

Can you guess what this box is being unloaded from a Pan American Airways aircraft? 
Click here for the answer.

Click to enlarge picture



Who are they?

Do you recognise these people?  How about the occasion and the year?  Click the picture to enlarge.

Image_02

Who's the hippie pedalling street legal drugs?

Click here for the answer.


 

Image_03

Here's a likely looking bunch.
Do you recognise any of them and any idea of the occasion?

Click here for the answer.


 

Image_04

These might be a bit easier.  More up to date than some of the others.

Click here for the answer.


 

Image_05
This one goes back a bit.
Who are they, what was the occasion and what year?
That'll test your memory!

Answer here.


History galore at IBM Museum

This is an article that was published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 1 Feb 2005 and is reproduced here with kind permission from the author, Graeme Philipson.  There is more on the Sindelfingen museum's collection at http://www.ibm.com/ibm/greateribm/connections/connections_article26.shtml (unfortunately the "For more information" links in that page no longer seem to work) and you can download a copy of the museum's brochure here.

Near the German city of Stuttgart, in the small town of Sindelfingen, is an unremarkable building with one of the world’s most remarkable collection of computers. The building is called Haus zur Geschichte der IBM Datenverarbeitung, or the House of the History of IBM Data Processing.

It contains the world’s most complete collection of historical IBM hardware, going back over 100 years. The machines are maintained by a group of retired IBM engineers, who have brought them up to working order. In early January I was fortunate enough to be given a tour of the House by Hans Spengler, one of a group of 40 ex-IBMers who meet there every Thursday afternoon to maintain and restore the dozens of historically significant devices the building contains.

There is a strong emphasis in the Sindelfingen collection on electromechanical tabulating and calculating machines, which were the mainstay of IBM’s product line before the advent of electronic computers after World War II. What we call today “computers” actually spend very little of their time computing – their primary activity is recording, storing and sorting information. That is very much IBM’s heritage, one that comes to life in Sindelfingen.

Herr Spengler is 75 this year, but as he showed me the exhibits he darted from machine to machine with the enthusiasm of a child. The first device we looked at was a replica of Herman Hollerith’s first tabulating machine, the only replica in the collection.

Hollerith’s machine was developed as a result of problems that had occurred in tabulating the results of the 1880 US census. The details took seven years to analyse, making its results almost irrelevant in a country growing as fast as the USA. Hollerith’s answer was an electromechanical tabulator, capable of counting data stored on punch cards modelled after those used on Joseph-Marie Jacquard’s famous loom.

It was a great success in quickly tabulating the results of the 1890 census, and similar machines were quickly adopted by census bureaus around the world. They were also popular with businesses such as insurance companies, which were drowning in paperwork in the early 20th century.

There are only two original Hollerith tabulators still in existence, but such was the desire of the German crew to have one that they built their own, from scratch, from the original specifications. The machine is a work of art, beautifully crafted by Hans Spengler’s colleagues Franz Schiffer (woodwork) and Heinz Graichen (electromechanical components). The replica took them over 2000 hours to make, and works perfectly – like virtually everything else in the building.

The displays are a history of IBM, but they also show the significant role Germany played in the history of the company. Hollerith, who was the son of German immigrants to the USA, opened an office in Germany in 1910 headed by his chief engineer Robert Williams. That led to the formation that same year of Deutsche Hollerith Maschinenen Gmbh, (Dehomag), founded by Willy Heidinger to rent and later also to build Hollerith machines under license and to develop improvements and new devices of its own.

Hollerith originally called his firm the Tabulating Machine Company (TMC). In 1911 it merged with the International Time Recording Company and the Dayton Scale Company to form the Computing Tabulating Recording Company (CTR). In 1914 CTR hired as its CEO ex NCR salesman Thomas J Watson, who changed the company’s name to International Business Machines (IBM) in 1924.

After World War II IBM acquired the German Dehomag company, with which it had shared much technology between the wars. It is Dehomag’s old punch card manufacturing facility, built in 1936, that now houses the IBM historical collection. IBM is still strongly represented in Germany – in 1953 the company opened a new research facility in the adjacent town of Boeblingen, which still has the largest IBM laboratory outside of the USA.

There has been some controversy in recent years about the extent of IBM’s involvement in The Holocaust. Dehomag’s machines were used by the Nazi regime to record and categorise Germany’s population, making it easier to implement the Final Solution. A recent book (Edwin Black’s “IBM and the Holocaust”) makes a case that IBM was more than a little involved, as were many other multinationals of that era.

The Sindelfingen collection contains a number of IBM and Dehomag machines from the prewar years, and one of IBM’s first electronic tabulators, a 1948 Model 604. There is an IBM 1401, IBM’s workhorse computer before the release of the famous S/360 in 1964. There are two S/360s (a model 20 and a model 91 floating point machine), and a S/370 (a 125 model, the same as I once operated back in the 1970s). There are tape drives and disk drives and printers galore – a real computer historian’s paradise.

The collection ends in the 1990s. Hans Spengler hopes a new generation will continue the work. IBM still maintains the building, paying for electricity and maintenance, but without that continued support and the dedicated commitment of scores of volunteers it will all disappear.

That is unfortunately to often the case with much computing history. The famous Boston computer museum was forced to close through lack of funds, and locally the Australian Computer Museum Society has never been able to find premises, and has been forced to get rid of many of its relics.

I have travelled the world seeking out the history of computing. Nowhere have I seen anything quite like what Hans Spengler and his colleagues have done in Sindelfingen. It’s great to know that so many people care about the industry’s heritage, but it is a major worry that very many more do not. §

graeme@philipson.info

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