Built by IBM in the 1950s, the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) computers were used in an early U.S. air defense system. When fully deployed in 1963, the system consisted of 27 centers throughout North America, each with a duplexed AN/FSQ-7 computer system containing over 50,000 vacuum tubes, weighing 250 tons and occupying an acre of floor space. SAGE was the first large computer network to provide man-machine interaction in real time.
The SAGE radar display console seen here presents a picture of the air defense situation within its assigned geographic area. Using buttons and switches on the console, the Air Force Airman First Class who is operating the console can request information to be displayed such as speed, altitude and weapons availability and location, and he can direct action to be taken against an attacker. With the light gun in his right hand, the operator selects radar tracks for identification and display on the SAGE Direction Center's summary board. (VV2216)
To see an image of the SAGE magnetic core array, visit our online exhibit: