IBM 7090

From Academic Kids

Missing image
IBM 7090 console

The IBM 7090 was a second-generation transistorized version of the earlier IBM 709 vacuum tube mainframe computers and was designed for "large-scale scientific and technological applications". The 7090 was the third member of the IBM 700/7000 series scientific computers. The first 7090 installation was in November 1959.

The 7090 used a 36-bit word length, with an address-space of 32K (32,768) words. It operated with a basic memory cycle of 2.18 μs, using core memory technology from the IBM 7030 (Stretch) project.


IBM 7094 and IBM 7040/7044

An upgraded version, the IBM 7094, was first installed in September 1962. It had seven index registers, instead of three on the earlier machines. The 7094 console had a distinctive box on top that displayed lights for the four new index registers. The 7094 introduced double-precision floating point and additional instructions, but was largely backward compatible with the 7090. Minor changes in instruction formats, particularly the way the additional index registers were addressed, sometimes caused problems.

In 1963, IBM introduced lower cost machines with a similar architecture, but fewer instructions and simplified I/O, called the IBM 7040 and 7044. In April 1964, the first 7094 II was installed, which had almost twice as much general speed as the 7090 due to a faster clock cycle and introduction of overlapped instruction execution.

Instruction and data formats

The basic instruction format was a 3-bit prefix, 15-bit decrement, 3-bit tag, and 15-bit address. The prefix field specified the class of instruction. The decrement field often contained an immediate operand to modify the results of the operation, or was used to further define the instruction type. The three bits of the tag specified three index registers (seven in the 7094), the contents of which were subtracted from the address to produce an effective address. The address field either contained an address or an immediate operand.

  • Fixed point numbers were stored in binary sign/magnitude format.
  • Single precision floating point numbers had a magnitude sign, an 8-bit excess-128 exponent and a 29 bit magnitude
  • Double precision floating point numbers, introduced on the 7094, had a magnitude sign, a 17-bit excess-65536 exponent, and a 54 bit magnitude
  • Alphanumeric characters were 6-bit BCD, packed six to a word.

Octal notation was used in documentation and programming.


The 7090 series featured a data channel architecture for input and output, a forerunner of modern direct memory access I/O. Up to 10 data channels could be attached. The datachannels had their own instruction set. These were used with tape and later disk storage and offered high performance for the time. Printing and punch card I/O, however, employed modified unit record equipment and was slow. It became common to use a less expensive IBM 1401 computer to read cards onto magnetic tape for transfer to the 7090/94. Output would be spooled onto tape and transfered to the 1401 for printing or card punching using its much faster peripherals, notably the IBM 1403 line printer. Later IBM introduced the 7094/7044 Direct Coupled System, using data channel to data channel communication, with the 7094 primarily performing computations and the 7044 performing I/O operations.

A 7090/1401 installation is featured in the motion picture Doctor Strangelove, with the 1403 printer playing a pivotal role in the plot.

Notable applications

Missing image
Dual 7090's at NASA during Project Mercury
  • NASA used 7090s, and, later, 7094s to control the Mercury and Gemini space flights. During the early Apollo Program, a 7094 was kept operational to run flight planning software that had not yet been ported to mission control's newer System/360 computers.
  • In 1961, the 7094 became the first computer to sing, singing the song Daisy Bell. Vocals were programmed by John Kelly and Carol Lockbaum and the accompanyment was programmed by Max Mathews. This performance was the inspiration for a similar scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey.

See also


  • Reference Manual, IBM 7090 Data Processing System, 1961, IBM A22-6528-3

External links


Academic Kids Menu

  • Art and Cultures
    • Art (
    • Architecture (
    • Cultures (
    • Music (
    • Musical Instruments (
  • Biographies (
  • Clipart (
  • Geography (
    • Countries of the World (
    • Maps (
    • Flags (
    • Continents (
  • History (
    • Ancient Civilizations (
    • Industrial Revolution (
    • Middle Ages (
    • Prehistory (
    • Renaissance (
    • Timelines (
    • United States (
    • Wars (
    • World History (
  • Human Body (
  • Mathematics (
  • Reference (
  • Science (
    • Animals (
    • Aviation (
    • Dinosaurs (
    • Earth (
    • Inventions (
    • Physical Science (
    • Plants (
    • Scientists (
  • Social Studies (
    • Anthropology (
    • Economics (
    • Government (
    • Religion (
    • Holidays (
  • Space and Astronomy
    • Solar System (
    • Planets (
  • Sports (
  • Timelines (
  • Weather (
  • US States (


  • Home Page (
  • Contact Us (

  • Clip Art (
Personal tools