This is an IBM 1401 scaled model I am working on, part of a diorama. It is a scratch build made of polystyrene mostly. I make everything by hand, no 3D printing involved.

The IBM 1401 is a computer from 1959, considered to be the first successful mass produced computer. I have been working on this miniature diorama since December last year, to celebrate its 60th anniversary.

Here is a close up of the CPU unit SMS transistor card. The IBM 1401, build in 1959, didn’t have a dedicated processor like in modern computers, it was made up of thousands of single transistors build on what they called SMS card that were all wire wrapped by hand. The whole unit was what consist of the processor.

I tried to replicate this as much as I could, but I had to simplify the design a little bit.

These are reference picture of a real unit, just in case you don’t know what you are looking at. I mean, I know not a lot of people know about these machines or their history. I love computer history and electronics and sharing this stuff with others : )

So this is almost the beginning, starting with polystyrene sheets that are cut to size, I glue them together and shape them, using putty to fill the gaps. This post will focus mostly on the SMS card unit.

This is the putty process, filling cracks and gaps to make the piece look seamless like a clean weld or bend. I later sand this. lots of sanding.

Details on the front vent

Designing the handles. I only have photos of the thing, no real dimensions, so a lot of it is guess work.

And here it is, about an hour later. Actually made 4 of those.

Added more details, bolts and the front grill

Adding pins, one by one… This took a long time but I just couldn’t figure out a better way of making this believable.

Starting to place the wires. On the left of the picture is a previous attempt at printing the thing on a piece of paper. It looked too flat, so I had to just make it.

Here it is with its neighbor. I didn’t make the wired version 3 time, these are barely seen in the final build

With the “printed circuit”. The traces are made using a regular lead pencil, it gave it a shiny look.

And the card side assembled!

I made other things for you to look at, the computer console :

If you want you can follow me on Insta, I just started posting on there :

Thank you for checking out my miniature things : )

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