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The SEA CAB 500 Computer

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129631D
Original Publication Date: 1990-Dec-31
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-06
Document File: 8 page(s) / 34K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

DIMITRI STARYNKEVITCH: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

The CAB 500 was planned by SEA as a low cost, simple to use computer, primarily for scientific calculations. The technology used was magnetic amplifiers, transistors, ferrite cores, and a magnetic drum, with input/output on perforated paper tape. It could be used in two modes: as a stored program computer or as a desk calculator. It was a microprogrammed machine, and a high-level language PAF (Programmation Automatique des Formules) was developed for it. It was launched in 1960 and over 100 were sold.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1990 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.

The SEA CAB 500 Computer

DIMITRI STARYNKEVITCH

(Image Omitted: Author's Address: Dimitri Starynkevitch, 48 Avenue Daum esnil, 75012 Paris, France.)

The CAB 500 was planned by SEA as a low cost, simple to use computer, primarily for scientific calculations. The technology used was magnetic amplifiers, transistors, ferrite cores, and a magnetic drum, with input/output on perforated paper tape. It could be used in two modes: as a stored program computer or as a desk calculator. It was a microprogrammed machine, and a high-level language PAF (Programmation Automatique des Formules) was developed for it. It was launched in 1960 and over 100 were sold.

Categories and Subject Descriptors: K.2. [Computing Milieux]: History of Computing -- hardware, software, D.3. [Software]: Programming Language General Terms: Design, Performance Languages. Additional Terms: PAF, CAB 500, CAB 2000, BASIC, FORTRAN, ALGOL, Magnetic drum memory, Flexownter, SEA, France, Magnetic amplifiers.

Introduction

The CAB 500 -- Calculatrice Arithmetique Binaire: Binary Numerical Computer -- was designed and built by the French company SEA (Societe d'Electronique et d'Automatisme), intended primarily for scientific and technical use. Work on this project started in 1966 and the machine was launched as a commercial product in 1960; a prototype, in a glass-panelled cabinet, was demonstrated at the "Automaths" conference in 1959 by Alice Recoque and Francoise Becquet, who had worked on the design and construction of the machine in the team led by Andre Richard and Claude Masson (Becquet and Recoque 1959).

The machine was of novel design and can be seen as a forerunner of the personal computer. With its technology of transistors and "Symmag" magnetic amplifiers it was much less bulky than its predecessors and of relatively low cost, 270300,000 FF in its basic version. Having its own built-in cooling system it did not need any special installation; it could be run directly off the main power supply. In particular, it was easy to use by a single user -- who, moreover, needed little or no special training for the purpose.

Structure of the Machine

The CAB 500 was a universal binary computer; it was a sequential stored program machine with a fixed length word of 33 bits, one of which was a parity check bit and also indicated overflow. It comprised five units:

the central processing unit (CPU), based on "Symmag" magnetic pulse amplifiers (Dumaire 1960) operating at 215 KHz. This unit included a fast memory of ferrite cores (2.5 1lsecs access time) driven by transistor circuits;

IEEE Computer Society, Dec 31, 1990 Page 1 IEEE Annals of the History of Computing Volume 12 Number 1, Pages 23-30

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The SEA CAB 500 Computer

the magnetic drum memory, autonomous and completely transistorised. The drum had 12...