The UNIVAC 1107
While IBM deserves much praise for the innovations first expressed in the Stretch, Remington Rand, the number-two computer company in the world at the time, was busy conjuring up some of its own magic with the UNIVAC 1107 Thin Film Memory Computer.
As you no doubt guessed from its name, the main technological accomplishment was the use of thin-film memory. It had an access time of 300 nanoseconds and a complete cycle time of 600 nanoseconds, making it extremely fast for 1962, when the machine was released. However, this did not replace core memory, which had a cycle time of roughly two microseconds, but rather was used to provide multiple accumulators, multiple index registers, and multiple input-out control registers. This allowed for greater parallelism, with increased speed as the end result. In total, there were 128, 36-bit words of thin-film memory (alternatively called "control memory" because of its function). By today's standards, this would not be considered memory at all, but part of the processor, much like registers. Although, in both cases, they are really very fast internal memory. One difference is that the control-memory registers were actually accessed by using a memory address as opposed to register name, but only when using special instruction designators or when referred to by an execution address. If not accessed this way, the addresses were mapped to core memory. So, rather strangely, the memory map for the first 128 bytes was different depending upon the context.
While the thin-film memory was certainly the biggest splash in the pool, there were other interesting features of this enduring line worth mentioning. For one, it had usable word sizes of 36-bits. Characters were expressed in six bits. Memory banks were interleaved so that if reads were done from different banks in successive reads, the access time was only 1.8 microseconds. If the word was in the same bank, it was four microseconds. As mentioned, this averaged out to two microseconds since it was more likely to access a different bank. The 1107 also contained 16 input and 16 output channels, all of which could be used concurrently to support a maximum of 250,000 words per second.
The main storage of the machine consisted of one to eight magnetic drums, each capable of storing from 262,144 to 6,291,456 words, giving this machine an enormous capacity of over 94 million 36-bit words (or over half a billion characters of storage).
Although the UNIVAC 1107 was without question a fine machine in its own right, its more important significance was the family of computers it started. While never approaching the sales of a series of computers that IBM would soon introduce, UNIVAC's 1100-series made the company the second-largest in the world for many years and is still supported by UNISYS today. But enough of the horse that placed. Let's head back to Big Blue.