Initial announcement press release (1970)

The following is the text of an IBM Data Processing Division technical press release headlined “Modular, Rugged IBM System/7 For Sensor-based Data Processing,” and distributed on October 28, 1970.



The modular IBM System/7, announced today, is designed to provide sensor-based data processing for users who want a system dedicated to a single application, as well as for those who wish to interconnect computers in a plant-wide or company-wide network.

Growth can be achieved easily by adding input-output modules to expand sensor attachment capability. The system’s all-monolithic memory also can be expanded on site. A “host” computer attachment allows System/7 to operate with an IBM 1130, 1800, System/370 or most models of System/360 for additional input-output and computational capability.

Monolithic Technology

Advanced monolithic technology is used throughout System/7’s processor unit, contributing greatly to the unit’s compactness and reliability and making high internal speeds possible.

System/7 becomes the second IBM computer (System/370 Model 145, announced last month, was the first) to have a main memory made entirely of monolithic circuits. To store data and instructions, the computer uses silicon memory “chips” rather than conventional magnetic cores.

The chips measure less than one-eighth-inch square and contain 1,434 microscopic circuit elements. These components are integrated into 128 memory circuits and 46 support circuits - - a total of 174 circuits on a single chip. Multiple chips are placed on ceramic substrates and encased in half-inch-square memory modules.

Logic circuits in System/7 are also monolithic. These circuits make possible switching speeds from 8 to 12 nanoseconds (billionths of a second).

System Modularity

IBM System/7 includes a processor module, input-output modules, and an operator station. The processor module and from 1 to 11 input-output modules are housed in enclosures that also provide internal power and signal distribution.

The processor module features:

Each interrupt level provides seven index registers, one accumulator, and one instruction address register. Priority-interrupt task-switching time ranges from 800 nanoseconds to 3.1 microseconds. Level switch time is performed by the system in 800 nanoseconds, with 16 sublevels provided for each interrupt level.

Input-Output Modules

There are two types of input-output modules available with System/7, the IBM 5014 analog input module and the 5012 multifunction module. In each, the external sensor wiring connects by plug-in termination cards.

The analog module is available in two versions. One provides as many as 128 relay multiplexer points that operate at scan speeds of up to 200 points per second. The other provides up to 128 solid-state multiplexer points that operate at scan speeds to 20,000 points per second. All analog input points are of the differential type and are individually isolated.

The 5012 multifunction module provides analog input-output, digital input-output with process interrupt, and control for devices of the IBM 2790 data communication system. Analog input can be specified with up to 32 points - - either relay or solid state multiplexer type.

Digital input provides up to 128 points, 32 of which can be optionally specified as process interrupt points. Digital output provides 64 points which can be chosen from three types: low-power register output, medium-power solid-state, and mercury-wetted relay contact points. All input-output points, except low-power register output, are individually isolated.

The IBM 2790 data communication system devices supported include the 2791 and 2793 area stations, 2795 and 2796 data entry units, 1053 printers and 1035 badge readers.

Operator Station

The operator station consists of a typewriter-like keyboard and request key, printer, paper tape reader and paper tape punch. Operation is under program control. System- or user-defined programs can be initiated through the use of the keyboard and request key. Pushbutton switches disconnect the station from the system and permit it to be used as a source program preparation device. The paper tape reader is used as the IBM System/7 initial program load (IPL) device for stand-alone operation.

Environmental Features of IBM System/7

A thermal warning device in each enclosure will interrupt and alert the system when its thermal limit is approached. It will also shut down the system when the limit is reached. Normal operating temperatures are from 400 to 122 [degrees] F. Each enclosure is individually sensed and controlled.

An internal air isolation feature protects the system from severe industrial environments. It includes:

A power failure detection/automatic restart option generates a warning interrupt for early indication of an imminent power failure. Restart can be accomplished from the operator station or the “host” computer.

IBM System/7 Programming

Modular System Programs for System /7 (MSP/7) offer a new concept in program support, including program preparation on an IBM host computer, such as the 1130, 1800, System/370 or most models of System/360.

Host preparation programming is performed through a library of macroinstructions -- stored in the host computer -- that cover most sensor-based functions.

Programming for users who do not have access to a host computer is accomplished through the IBM System/7 Assembler. It operates on a System/7 with 4,096 or more words of memory.

Distributed System Programs (DSP) support multisystem operation. The 1130 DSP is used for a System/7 attached to an 1130 via the latter’s storage access channel. The 1800 DSP is used for coupled System/7 and IBM 1800 telecommunications networks.

IBM System/370 and any System/360 that runs under DOS or OS can support System/7 through the Basic Telecommunications Access Method (BTAM) or the Queued Telecommunications Access Method (QTAM). OS additionally provides the Telecommunications Access Method (TCAM).

Prices, Delivery

Because of the high degree of modularity available to System/7 users, there is no “typical” system price. Monthly rental is $352 for the smallest IBM System/7, including the processor, 2,048 words of monolithic memory and one input-output module. The purchase price is $16,060. Additional memory increments of 2,048 words rent for $105, or can be purchased for $3,675.

The required IBM 5028 operator station is available, purchase only, at $2,240.

Input-output modules range in monthly rental from $67 to $964, with purchase prices from $2,940 to $39,680.

Initial customer shipments will be scheduled for November 1971. System/7 was developed and is being built at IBM’s General Systems Division facilities in Boca Raton, Fla.