IBM 603 Electronic computing unit with gates open.

Annotated image of IBM 603 Electronic computing unit with gates open. From the article on the IBM 603 in the IBM 100 website.

IBM 603

IBM 603, photo from the IBM 100 website.

Detail map of Endicott, New York, United States Overview map of Endicott, New York, United States

A: Endicott, New York, United States

IBM's 603 Electronic Multiplier, the First Complete Machine to Perform Arithmetic Electronically

12/1942 to 1946
<p>IBM Vacuum Tube Multiplier.</p>

IBM Vacuum Tube Multiplier.

In December 1942 Byron Phelps and C. A. Bergfors at IBM's Endicott Engineering Laboratory at Endicott, New York completed a prototype of the the Vacuum Tube Multiplier. This was first complete machine to perform arithmetic electronically. By substituting 300 vacuum tubes in flip-flop circuits for electro-mechanical relays it could process information thousands of times faster than electro-mechanical calculators.

In 1946 IBM commercialized the Vacumm Tube Multiplier, calling it the IBM 603 electronic multiplier. This special purpose device was the first electronic calculator ever placed into production, and altogether 100 603s were manufactured. The 603 consisted of two boxes: the Type 603 calculating unit and Type 520 punch-read unit. This machine provided multiplication speeds several magnitudes higher than earlier electromechanical devices. 

 

Timeline Themes