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Developer Makes Miniature Model of IBM 1401 Mainframe Computer

mini IBM 1401 system tape drives and a chair

The IBM 1401 data center model includes two tape drives, a floating floor, tiny punchcards, and a wheeled yellow office chair.

Credit: Nicolas Temese

Nicolas Temese, a developer with an interest in computer history, has built a miniature version of IBM's 1401 data processing system, touted in 1959 as the world's first affordable general purpose computer.

Instead of 3D printing, Temese spent 300 hours designing and constructing the detailed model on his own. 

"When I first started posting pictures online of my model, I wasn't sure that many people would even know what it was," Temese says. "I was very surprised to see there was so many people who worked . . . on these systems back then that remember it and have such fond memories of it."

Temese has been making miniatures for years, but nothing this serious or precise. "I learned everything by myself, but I have always been a maker at heart," he says.

He didn't stint on details. Temese's model includes a punchcard reader, teeny tiny punchcards, two tape drives, a query console, central unit, a line printer, floating floor, and even a tiny, bright yellow wheeled office chair.

Twenty-seven photos of the incredibly detailed model are on Instagram.

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