A brief history of the IBM 650

Some of the early design of components and the development of the concepts which led to the IBM 650 Magnetic Drum Data Processing Machine began in the late-1940s. Refinement of the concepts and engineering design of the eventual production 650 system were carried out in the early-1950s, principally at IBM's laboratory in Endicott, N.Y., under the direction of Frank E. Hamilton, Ernest S. Hughes, Jr., and James J. Troy, who were the chief inventors. Other significant technical contributions were made by Robert W. Avery, S. H. Blackford, E. A. Brown, James J. Ingram, W. K. Lynn and C. B. Smith.

Some 650 milestones

July 14, 1953
IBM 650 Magnetic Drum Data Processing System Machine is announced.

December 8, 1954
The first 650 delivered to a customer is installed in the controllers department of the John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance Company in Boston. (The company also becomes the first customer to acquire two 650s, when a second system is installed in April 1955.)

1955
Magnetic tape input-output and the IBM 407 accounting machine are announced as additional equipment for the 650 system.

1956
IBM 650 production at Endicott runs at one machine per day.

September 14, 1956
650 RAMAC (which combines the IBM 650 Magnetic Drum Data Processing Machine and a series of IBM 355 disk memory units) and the 305 RAMAC are announced. The 650 is demonstrated at IBM's Glendale Laboratory in Endicott.

September 1958
650 Magnetic Drum Data Processing System is used at the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission exhibit at the Atoms For Peace Conference in Geneva.

March 30, 1959
IBM 355 Model 2 Disk Storage Unit with double capacity disk storage files for the IBM 650 is announced.

June 12, 1959
IBM 650 Model 4 console unit is introduced.

June 18, 1959
Double capacity magnetic drum storage for the 650 Data Processing System is announced.

June 1959
A 650 simulates the operation of a complete oil refinery at the Fifth World Petroleum Congress Exposition in New York City.

1962
The final IBM 650 is manufactured.

August 18, 1969

The IBM 650 and its components are withdrawn from marketing.