Computers Through Time by James Ball

Docubyte, aka James Ball, is a British professional designer, photographer and retoucher who works with clients such as Airbus, Vice Magazine, The Guardian, UK Space Agency and other prestigious names. He has always been fascinated by science and computer science, and defines himself as a “real geek,” as his pseudonym shows, a direct reference to the world of computer science.

As talented in design as in photography, he combines both skills and his passion for science in a work called “Guide to Computing.” It is a history of computer technology between 1945 and 1979 through pure and minimalist photographs all in color. The photos present these huge calculating machines renovated for the occasion and retouched, only in the middle of the frame on a background with variable pop colors. We are witnessing the incredible evolution of technology and design over a period of 30 years that has changed the face of the world with these inventions.

As an expert in retouching, he allowed himself to give a new life to these objects, now antiques, some of which were very damaged when he recovered them.

IBM 360 (1964)

ibm 360 James Ball

The particularity of the IBM 360 is essentially in its design. It is a series of computers whose architecture allowed the passage from one model to another regardless of their size easily. The same cards were read by the various machines of this series which became compatible with each other and offered all the computer services of the time.


Xerox alto (1973)

xeros alto James ball

This is one of the first personal screen computers that had ever been designed. Moreover, it is the first model to use the desktop metaphor to designate the interface through which one accesses their files and software. It is also in this model that we saw the first toolbar as we know it today.


IBM 1401 (1964)

ibm 1401 James ball

One of the second-best-selling second-generation computers. It was able, among other things, to make 193,000 additions of 8 digits per minute or read 1,500 characters per second. This extremely expensive machine cost about $78,000 at the time but was most often offered for rent at $1,450 per month.


Harwell Dekatron (1957)

harwell dekatron James ball

This mastodon of the 50s weighed 2 and a half tons. It is described in the record book as "the world's oldest digital computer."


Endim 2000 (1965)

Endim 2000 James ball

This computer, of which very few copies have been made, is a product from the German Democratic Republic.


HDR 75 (1970)

hdr 75 James Ball

IBM 729 (1959)

ibm 729 James Ball

Despite its appearance as a huge recording tape, it is a computer. Finally, in its most basic use. The tape was once needed for computers to perform their primary function, recording and storing data.


ICL 750 (1971)

ICL 750 James Ball

This object is the ancestor of the workstation as we know it today (although in the next few years it may be doomed). It was about the same size as a current PC but was built in one block vertically. It was built in order to invade corporate offices and become the work tool par excellence.


Elliot 803 Tape Unit (1960)

elliot 803 Tape Unit James Ball


IBM Sage (1950)

IBM sage James Ball

The system called SAGE is an acronym for Semi-Automatic Ground Environment. It was a network of mainframes that processed information from different radar sites across the country. It was used as a weapon during the Cold War between the US and the USSR. This technology made it possible to produce a unified national airspace image in real-time and to better understand tactical decisions.


Cray-1 (1975)

Cray-1 James Ball

One of the best-selling computers in history, part of the supercomputer category designed by Cray Research.


Ferranti Atlas (1964)

ferranti atlas James Ball

The computer developed at the University of Manchester by a team led by Professor Tom Killburn was, at the time of its creation, the most powerful on Earth.

Photo Credits: Docubyte


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