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Wanted mid 70's computer to appear in film- Bank scene

lou.brady

New Member
Joined
May 3, 2010
Messages
3
Location
Perth, Western Australia
Hi there


I am a props buyer based in Perth working on the feature film Red Dog being filmed in and around Karratha from May 17th to June 3rd. I am trying to source a vintage computer (mid 70's ish) to appear in a scene set in a bank. I'm not overly familiar with computers of this period, so don't know exactly what type computer I am looking for.

If you have a computer that would fit this description and are in Perth, Western Australia, we would love to buy/hire it from you. If you don't have one but might be able to point me in the direction of where I could start looking in Perth or a bit of a description of what sort of computer I am looking for that would be fantastic!

You can email me at lou.brady@gmail.com

Thanks very much for your time,
Regards,
Louise Brady
 

lou.brady

New Member
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May 3, 2010
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Location
Perth, Western Australia
I'm not exactly sure- my boss seems to think there would be, but I am a little young to remember!
If anyone could answer this one way or the other it would be great!
 

Vint

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May 14, 2008
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390
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Ohio, USA
Why not just go with an Apple II? Not exactly mid 70's ish, but close, at 1977.
Then I'm not sure when the Apple II was introduced in 'Australia'. The Commodore PET from 1977 is another choice.
Perhaps TEZ can shed some light on whether Apple II's or CBM PETS were available in Australia in 1977 as they were here in the U.S.
 
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tezza

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New Zealand
Why not just go with an Apple II? Not exactly mid 70's ish, but close, at 1977.
Then I'm not sure when the Apple II was introduced in 'Australia'. The Commodore PET from 1977 is another choice.
Perhaps TEZ can shed some light on whether Apple II's or CBM PETS were available in Australia in 1977 as they were here in the U.S.

Not very common at all here in New Zealand...I would suspect it would be the same in Australia.

However, this is for a BANK. You would be talking mini or mainframe computers in this environment. Any VDU was most likely just a terminal to a central computer somewhere.

Tez
 

Chuck(G)

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Most likely something like an IBM System/3 would be representative. I doubt that large IBM iron is commonly available in Oz. I don't recall DEC equiopment being in common use in banks at the time. The larger banks were likely IBM S/370, Burroughs or Univac big iron, or possibly (depending on the date) Tandem.
 

VintageComputerman

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May 26, 2007
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661
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WNY
From a quick search, they might have used a GE225...

H-20734-5%20GE%20225%20Computer%20Tape%20Drive.jpg

http://ed-thelen.org/comp-hist/GE225.html

October this year will mark a significant milestone in Australia’s computing history – the fortieth anniversary of the first computer used by a trading bank.
Coined as Fabacus, the First Australian Bank’s Accounting Computer Used in Sydney, it was commissioned by the then Bank of NSW – now Westpac – in August 1964 and went live in October.
Fabacus’ original supervisor Ian Hoey recalls working in a Sydney city branch on King and George Streets when he was selected to run the new computer room.
“I started in the computer room and had three operators for Fabacus - a General Electric GE225,” Hoey told Computerworld. “A smaller state savings bank had a computer but this was certainly the first trading bank computer.”
Originally developed by General Electric to ease the Bank of America’s exponential cheque processing requirements, the GE225 system had 20 kilobytes of core memory and was the size of three wardrobe-size compartments.
The GE225 also had six tape drives, a punched card reader, printer, card punch, typewriter, and two cheque sorters.
“GE had a 210 model which was much slower,” Hoey said. “The GE225 was popular and companies including the ANZ bank, the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Scheme, and Carlton United Breweries in Melbourne also had them. GE then went on to produce the 235 and 600 series which were well ahead of its time.”
Previously the bank had had a records system to do unit trust applications; people moved over to work on the computer from punch-card machines.
The cultural transition to the computer age was varied; some people liked it but others couldn’t cope, Hoey said.
However, time pressures don't seem to have changed in the intervening years. “We had a short processing window to bring branches online which created more pressure to get it merged and ready,” he said. “With a processing rate of 40 cheques per second reducing the reject rate was critical, or we didn’t get customer statements or branch reports out.”
The bank also bought a GE600 which – when GE sold its computer business to Honeywell in 1970 – became the Honeywell 6000.
Having retired in 1991, Hoey remembers an era when you could “put your hands on” mission-critical systems.
“But with computers the impact of one person could really wreak havoc,” he said. “The bank could not have kept operating with the increasing volumes without computers. The ledger machines were almost computers in those days.”
Businessman Dennis Bainbridge – then GE’s lead service technician for installed systems – helped commission Fabacus which was the third GE225 installation in the country.
“GE had its own system in York Street, Sydney, and the University of Queensland installed one in 1962 for research.
“This was the first banking system in Australia and at the time GE was the world leader in banking technology and sold a lot of systems.”
Bainbridge said the GE225 – which performed “quite well” – ran until 1972, was replaced by a GE235 which was replaced by IBM mainframes as GE exited the computer business.
Westpac CIO Simon McNamara said those behind Fabacus are true pioneers of banking in Australia, describing it as a system ahead of its time. "While we certainly aren't faced with the same challenges as 40 years ago, the Fabacus team paved the way for us to continually strive towards technology solutions that improve efficiencies and productivity for our employees, and ultimately provide superior customer service."
To celebrate the anniversary, staff from the old Bank of New South Wales will have a reunion on October 23 in Sydney.
http://www.computerworld.com.au/article/158049/bank_computing_turns_40/
 
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Chuck(G)

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GE comptuer was owned by Honeywell by the mid 70's. I remember visiting the ex-GE plant in Phoenix that a friend had just transferred to in 1975. The ranks of the Seven Dwarfs were starting to thin by then.
 

MikeS

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Dec 23, 2005
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Toronto ON Canada
Not very common at all here in New Zealand...I would suspect it would be the same in Australia.

However, this is for a BANK. You would be talking mini or mainframe computers in this environment. Any VDU was most likely just a terminal to a central computer somewhere.

Tez
Indeed; I don't think you would have seen a PET or an Apple in a bank; on the other hand you likely wouldn't have found a mainframe in every branch either, maybe a small local system with a few posting machines to update balances and passbooks and nightly data transfer to the central system. That would probably be the time when real-time on line transactions were just becoming feasible.

Maybe you can find someone on a local networking site who actually worked in a bank in those days and could recall how things were back then?
 

modem7

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Melbourne, Australia
First, I presume that when you refer a bank, you mean the branch office of a bank rather than the head office.

Is historical accuracy critical/important?

I still have a 'Commonwealth Savings Bank of Australia' depositor's passbook from the 70's. In it, the 1974 entry for a deposit is handwritten, and has the branch stamp against it. The next line entry is dated 1977 and has been machine stamped. Some of the later line entries are also machine stamped. I certainly remember a machine that the tellers inserted the opened passbook into. At that time (late 70's), whether there was a computer in the office controlling what was printed out, or whether what was printed out was typed into the machine by the teller, I don't know. I don't remember any visual display units.

As for letters, mortgage documents, and the like, I've got a feeling that in Australia, branch offices would still have been using typewriters.
 

nige the hippy

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In 1976 our local bank had a single asr-33 teletype on a (unsecured!) leased line to head office. At a similar time we were using asr-33s in conjunction with metal cased VDUs (terminals) to access a remote minicomputer.

If it needs to be seen working, both have problems, in that an asr-33 needs a current loop interface, to connect to a PC serial port, and the vdu will probably have a very dim screen. Considering the simplicity of the metalwork involved, it would probably be easier to build a mock metal case for a more modern (monochrome) terminal & keyboard.

syscope.jpgsyscope2.jpg
 

lou.brady

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May 3, 2010
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3
Location
Perth, Western Australia
Wow I'm learning a lot about vintage computers today.

After reading everyone responses and a lot of google searching I now understand what I am looking for!
A VDU with keyboard, like the one Nige provided would be perfect, or something like this
http://www.hpmuseum.net/display_item.php?hw=240
or this
http://www.hpmuseum.net/display_item.php?hw=94

I have been in touch with the Australian Computer Museum Society of Western Australia (Thanks Nigel from Hobart) but if anyone else had any leads over here WA it would be most appreciated.

Thank you so much for all your responses so far.
 

barythrin

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Texas
Awesome. Good chance to get some gear out and make it a movie star heh. So just with the conversation and question of what computer would be there, but if you're just talking about what would be on a bankers desk (and I'm also too young to know first hand) but I would assume it would just be a terminal and a calculator. That may broaden the market a bit unless it's a server shot which in that case yeah you'll need some iron of various sorts. Could be a tektronics terminal, an HP http://hpmuseum.net/display_item.php?hw=240, http://www.vintage-computer.com/otheritems.shtml has some examples also if you're trying to be date sensitive and not just use some generic looking terminal. I think a lot of movie folks just use some old looking system/prop and animate the screen after the fact although I would suggest doing it right like it sounds you are.
 

nige the hippy

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Nige, that looks like a Beehive Super Bee in remarkably good condition.
Not wanting to hijack the thread, but...
It's a Systime "Syscope" localish (made in leeds) It's sitting on a really nice Systime 5000 which was basically a pdp-11/34 processor with Systime peripheral cards. My local college upgraded to just such a system in about 1978, so It has fond memories. This system was offered to me as "scrap" as a result of a contact from Terry, and luck of having a large enough vehicle (just!) with me at the time! I've a couple of the Syscopes & a few Cifer 2634 terminals all in fairly good physical condition, but unfortunately they were all slightly faulty. They were put in the loft of a furniture chain years ago when they went wrong and forgotten about, all the working ones were scrapped!
I should have some photos soon of my stuff, I've been waiting for some cupboards (for the bits) to come into the local second hand furniture shop for a week or so.
 

paul

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Mar 18, 2004
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New Zealand
I remember my bank in late 1970's New Zealand (the Post Office Bank) used a purely manual system - passbooks and index cards filed in heavily-secured red cabinets. They were on wheels, presumably for either moving into a vault or moving to a central location during the night to reconcile accounts between branches.

On Wiki I see that in 1967 a company called Databank Systems Ltd was formed to provide centralized computerized transaction processing services to the other major banks in the country. They had an IBM 360/30 with 16k memory.
 

Chuck(G)

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It's a Systime "Syscope" localish (made in leeds) It's sitting on a really nice Systime 5000 which was basically a pdp-11/34 processor with Systime peripheral cards. My local college upgraded to just such a system in about 1978, so It has fond memories.

Maybe, but it's the same keyboard and enclosure for the SuperBee (ca. 1974-5). The only photo I could find on the web is this one:

38_2.JPG


I remember the welded aluminum slab-sided case and keyboard.

It doesn't have the brown plexiglass cover over the CRT that mine did (attached with velcro-like plastic fasteners). Innards were an 8008, with screen memory as a batch of MOS shift registers. 1702A EPROMs. Sound familiar? I had two of the things.

Beehive OEMed to a lot of manufacturers.
 

Neon_WA

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Jan 15, 2010
Messages
270
Location
Perth, Western Australia
Is the scene in the bank in a separate computer room, or will it be in the office area?

Only computer i have from this period is DataPoint 5500, but not what i would expect to be used in a bank
http://sortingthecomputer.com/image.php?id=1238

If in the office/teller area.. a video terminal maybe more appropriate like this Visual 102 i have (pictured below), but it is from the 80s as is my Digital VT131 that is getting shipped to the UK soon
http://www.cpu-world.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=13380

I will do a bit research on the period, but it maybe worth while contacting the WA members of the Australian Computer Museum Society
http://aceware.iinet.net.au/acms/default.htm

Edit >> i see someone already gave you their contact info lol
 

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