IBM 7090

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The IBM 7090 was a second-generation transistorized version of the earlier IBM 709 vacuum tube mainframe computers and was designed for "large-scale scientific and technological applications". The 7090 was the third member of the IBM 700/7000 series scientific computers. The first 7090 installation was in November 1959. In 1960, a typical system sold for $2,900,000 or could be rented for $63,500 a month.

The 7090 used a 36-bit word length, with an address-space of 32K (32,768) words. It operated with a basic memory cycle of 2.18 μs, using the IBM 7302 Core Storage core memory technology from the IBM 7030 (Stretch) project.

The 7090 was six times faster than the 709, and could be rented for half the price.[1]


IBM 7094 and IBM 7040/7044

Although the 709 was a superior machine to its predecessor, the 704, it was being built and sold at the time that transistor circuitry was supplanting vacuum tube circuits. Hence, IBM redeployed its 709 engineering group to the design of a transistorized successor. That project became called the 709-T (for Transistorized), which because of the sound when spoken, quickly shifted to the nomenclature 7090 (i.e., seven - oh - ninety). Similarly, the related machines such as the 7070 and other 7000 series equipment were called by names of digit - digit - decade (e.g., seven - oh -seventy).

An upgraded version, the IBM 7094, was first installed in September 1962. It had seven index registers, instead of three on the earlier machines. The 7094 console had a distinctive box on top that displayed lights for the four new index registers. photos The 7094 introduced double-precision floating point and additional instructions, but was largely backward compatible with the 7090. Minor changes in instruction formats, particularly the way the additional index registers were addressed, sometimes caused problems.

In 1963, IBM introduced lower cost machines with a similar architecture, but fewer instructions and simplified I/O, called the IBM 7040 and 7044. In April 1964, the first 7094 II was installed, which had almost twice as much general speed as the 7090 due to a faster clock cycle and introduction of overlapped instruction execution.

Instruction and data formats

The basic instruction format was a 3-bit prefix, 15-bit decrement, 3-bit tag, and 15-bit address. The prefix field specified the class of instruction. The decrement field often contained an immediate operand to modify the results of the operation, or was used to further define the instruction type. The three bits of the tag specified three index registers (seven in the 7094), the contents of which were subtracted from the address to produce an effective address. The address field contained either an address or an immediate operand.

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