Prices, Weights and Power Consumption
Peter Toma in front of the Datatron, 1957.
Courtesy of the Charles Babbage Institute, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.
Although Consolidated Engineering Corporation started out to build a $50,000 computer in 1951, reality brought the price up. By announcement date in 1954, the price had risen to $125,000. Modifications to make all machines "magnetic tape capable" brought the final selling price to $135,000. That was not sufficient to give you any input or output capability, however.
If you truly wanted a "bare bones" calculating machine you could get it for about $161,000 including paper tape and Flexowriter capabilities. Even then, you would likely be doing scientific work and would want the floating point unit bringing the total up to $182,000.
The typical installation in the 1956-60 era would be quite a bit more expensive. You would want a tape controller and four drives, a Cardatron control unit, one Cardatron input unit and two output units. That would put you over $362,000. You still needed to call your IBM representative to rent a Model 089 reader, a Model 407 printer and a Model 523 card punch unit.
While these prices might not seem high to our current eyes, they were substantial in 1956. To put these prices in some perspective, consider that Fortune magazine published an article in January, 1956, on the merits of business aircraft. They estimated the price for a couple of the typical planes of the day to be the Beech Super-18 at $125,000 and the Douglas DC-3 at $240,000. The decision to buy a corporate computer was not a small one! By the way, the median price of a new home in 1956 was $14,500, about two thirds of the price for the Floating Point option on the Datatron. The engineers designing the system were earning around $700-750 per month.
Total weight of your typical Datatron installation would be about 19,000 pounds (including the IBM peripherals.) The power consumption was about 66,000 watts not including the air-conditioning. The system would be producing about 164,000 BTUs per hour or about the equivalent of two conventional home furnaces running full blast.
But here, configure your own system using this combined Price, Weight and Power Consumption chart.
|Prices ($)||Weight||Power Consumption (KVA)||Heat|
|lbs.||208/230V, 3-Phase||115V, single phase||BTU/hr|
|DATATRON Computer Model 205||135,000||3,900||3,175||15.0||1.5||56,100|
|Model 403 no reader, no punch||7,050||230||450|
|Model 406 Reader and Punch||14,210||490||450|
|Model 403 Reader only||11,230||362||450|
|Consolette Model 405||1,980||70|
|Photoelectric Reader (included in Control Console)||35|
|Magnetic Electronic Power Supply|
|Power Control Unit||1,000|
|Basic Power Supply||1,500|
|Auxiliary Power Supply||1,500|
|Power Supply Power Consumption|
|Datatron (Model 205)||2.5||2.0||15,300|
|Floating Point (Model 360)||0.2||700|
|Magnetic Tape Control Unit (Model 543)||0.2||700|
|Punched Card Converter (Model 500)||0.3||1,000|
|Cardatron (Model 506)||3.7||12,600|
|Typewriter Control Model 446||4,560||137||160|
|Modified Flexowriter Model 458||3,135||95||88|
|Tape Perforator and Verifier Model 454||3,790|
|Numeric Code Converter Model 460||3,680|
|External Switching & Output Selector Model 420||4,375|
|External Switching Model 421||2,890|
|High Speed Tape Punch||100|
|Magnetic Tape Control Model 543||25,000||750||600||3.8||12,900|
|Single Magnetic Tape Unit Model 544||12,000||375||500||3.8||1.2||4,100|
|Datafile Model 560||25,000||825||650||1.0||3,400|
|Floating Point Model 360||21,200||725||750||2.4||2,200|
|Punched Card Converter Model 500||18,625||1,044||3.4||3.5||23,500|
|CARDATRON Model 506|
|Output Unit, 80 characters||26,300||660||800||2.8||0.5||11,200|
|Output Unit, 120 characters||27,550||690|
|Punched Card Equipment|
|IBM Type 089||85||1,027||1.5||4,560|
|IBM Type 407||800||3,286||2.5||7,500|
|IBM Type 416||190||2,272||1.6||4,390|
|IBM Type 419||425||1,997||1.4||3,480|
|IBM Type 402||420||2,751||1.4||4,692|
|IBM Type 514||125||1,289||1.4||3,820|
|IBM Type 517||526|
|IBM Type 519||110||1,311||1.5||4,090|
|IBM Type 523||85||747||0.9||2,375|
|IBM Type 528||440||1,430||1.2||3,166|
ElectroData Price List #3460 dated April 16, 1956
ElectroData Installation Manual (weights, heat and power consumption)
IBM Equipment Summary dated August 27, 1957 found at Bitsavers (Includes photos)