Summary

Control Data 3200 computer system. Used at Monash University in the 1960s superseding the Sirius computer. Made by Control Data Corporation in the United States of America in the early 1960s.

The computer was used by academic and administrative staff and students; for a short while, the computer was used as a data centre by Control Data Australia. One of the main reasons for choosing the CDC3200 was that it would be part of a network of computers covering, among others, Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne. The computer was operational from 1964 to 1979.

The Museum only holds a memory module, tape drive and reels of tape, disk drive, typewriter with accessories, log and manual, and a printer and rolls of printer ribbon. The following items would be necessary to have a complete system: mainframe or CPU, the CPU console, paper tape reader/writer and the 405 card reader.

Physical Description

The Computer System includes the following items: 1. Control Data Sign 2 .Manual, back-up log, a print-out, and trade literature 3. Model 604 Tape Transport, a magnetic reel & tape, two magnetic tape reel and write protect rings 4. Model 853 Disk Drive 5. Memory Unit 6. Model 501 Printer and five boxes of Printer 7. Model 3201 Typewriter 8. Punch cards 9 .Connectors and spare parts.

Significance

This CDC 3200 computer represents the early stages in the adoption of digital technology in Australia by institutions such as Universities. It also symbolises the early stages of the development of computer networks in Australia.

Control Data Corporation and CDC 3200 computers played a vital part in the setting up of two major and complex computer networks at a time where there was no such term as computer network; (the first internet-type networks were developed in the late 1960s and early 1970s).

The projects were developed independently of each other; the first was established by the Bureau of Census and Statistics to carry out an essentially business data processing operation. The second, by the CSIRO, provided a scientific computing service to its 40 or so divisions as well as engaging in computing research.

The CDC 3200 computer was designed to meet the requirements of the two projects; the design was actively promoted by (Australian) representatives of Control Data Australia.

The 3200 was an essential component of these projects but it was only part of Control Data’s Australian initiative, which included providing nine CDC 3200s and the two CDC 3600s to the Bureau and CSIRO as well as other organisations.

As a result Control Data played an active role in Australia for nearly 30 years.

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