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Hove, Arthur (ed.) / Wisconsin alumnus
Volume 66, Number 1 (Oct. 1964)

Beran, Don
Hi-fi computer,   pp. 19-20


Page 19


Dr. Mervin E. Muller, director of the Computing Center, is shown here at
the console of the new 1460 computer.
Hi-Fi Computer
                           by Don Beran
HOW WOULD you like to have
to listen to an entire side of a
hi-fi record, in order to play one
song you especially liked?
  Computer researchers at the Uni-
versity in Madison have had a sim-
ilar problem-until this year when a
new disc-pack computer unit-the
1460-was installed at the new
Computing Center.
  Each disc is a circular piece of
magnetic material which looks a lot
like the average LP phonograph
record. A long arm with a needle on
the end comes out and picks the
spot on the disc that contains the
desired information. Each disc holds
about 3,000,000 characters of infor-
mation-enough to keep the average
man counting a long time.
  Older types of computers use
tapes exclusively-and you have to
run the whole tape through if your
October, 1964
chosen bit of fact happens to be at
the wrong end. Naturally, such dif-
ferences in time are measured in
mill-seconds, but to computer sci-
entists at the UW who are running
billions of these information hunts a
day-the milli-seconds add up to
hours.
  "We intend to use the 1460 for
much of our administrative work
and to help people convert easily
from card-type machines to tape-
type machines," Dr. Mervin E. Mul-
ler, Center director, says.
  With the new machine, University
researchers-students and faculty
alike-can prepare punched cards,
as if they were using the older,
slower machines. Then, the Center's
trained staff will feed the cards into
the tape-memory units at the rate
of 200 cards a minute.
  Then, the machine takes over-
frequently running on a 24-hour
schedule-and months of research
are converted into answers to the
problems of science. Processing cur-
rently about 200 pieces of research
a day, the Center is doubling its
job volume each year, Dr. Muller,
a Ph.D. graduate of UCLA, esti-
mates.
  Some of the unusual-and typi-
cal-pieces of research run through
the Computing Center in a month
are: (Agriculture) Family Meal
Planning and Food Purchasing;
(Chemistry) Chemical Crystallo-
graphic Research; (Meteorology)
Heat Cycles of Lakes; (Psychology)
Handwriting and Aging; (Scandin-
avian Studies) Dictionary of Mod-
em Colloquial Norwegian; (Educa-
tion) Rural School Health Programs;
(Engineering) Basic Research in
Fluid Mechanics; (Commerce) Ef-
                               19


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