Images relevant to the original IBM 7090

This is a page of resources from my collection that contain images relevant to the original IBM 7090 computer system introduced in 1959. I did not have an IBM 7090 in my collection, but I did have the similar but later IBM 7094 and extra pieces including an authentic IBM 7090 data channel. Several parts of the IBM 7090 were used unchanged in or compatible with the IBM 7094.

Blinking Lights

Videos of the 7151 console made using the SimH simulator:

Photo of the 7090 console with labels of the lights and switches.

IBM 7090 construction and debugging

The mainframe cabinets each contain four huge gates that pull out in pairs and open up like a book so you can get at the circuit boards on the inside faces. The outside face of each gate is the wire-wrapped backplane that interconnects the circuit boards. This picture shows an oscilloscope probe of the era, the backplane pins, and both sides of a circuit card.

The main power is 208 volts 3-phase Y, 150 amps.

IBM 7090 documents with photographs

  • IBM 7090 Principles of Operation
  • The Principles of Operation has photos of parts of the original 1959 machine on pages 6-8, 89, 97, 99 and 102. This is a later edition that includes peripherals that were not available in 1959, so there are other photos that can be disregarded.

  • Photo from the Weik survey (1963)

Photos of IBM 7094 units unchanged from the original IBM 7090

Photos of IBM 7094 units similar to or used with the original IBM 7090

Number of units and their dimensions

An IBM 7090 installation would typically consist of the following units for the computer itself. These are listed in "visual" order, according to what an operator or visitor would see first in the computer room.

The machine room would typically be large with a white raised floor consisting of 24" square tiles. It would have flourescent strip lighting set in an acoustic tile ceiling. The walls would be boring flat off-white. It was very noisy because of all the fans and blowers in the computer.

(I don't have the dimensions of these yet)

  • (1) IBM 7151 Console
  • (1) IBM 711 Console Card Reader
  • (1) IBM 716 Console Printer
  • (1) IBM 721 Console Card Punch
  • (2) IBM Data Channel Console
  • (10-20) IBM 729 Tape Drive
  • (7) Central Processor frames, arranged next to each other:
    • (2) IBM 7607 Data Channel
    • (1) IBM 7302 Core Storage
    • (1) IBM 7106 Processor Unit
    • (1) IBM 7108 Processor Unit
    • (1) IBM 7109 Processor Unit
    • (1) IBM 7606 PDU (Power Distribution Unit)
  • (1) IBM Motor-generator set

In addition there are several other IBM machines that might be in the computer room.

  • (1-2) IBM 026 keypunch, for punching cards
  • (1) IBM 519 reproducing card punch, for copying card decks
  • (1) IBM 407 accounting machine, for listing card decks

There would also be a separate keypunch room, also containing each the other machines above but with many more keypunches.


A fellow who still repairs these machines made a video of some of them. Here is a specialized version of the keypunch just duplicating cards. And here is an accounting machine with the same card reader mechanism as the 711 console card reader.

Where are they now

As of 2016, I still have the pieces above marked (spare) in my collection. The IBM 7094 serial number 45 is now at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA. The blue tape drives are part of the IBM 1401 now at the Center for Technology and Innovation in Binghamton, NY. I have additional tape drives but they are not complete - visible parts are missing or broken.