1960s: Bell Labs

Operations Manager

Operations Manager 2

Operations Manager 3

Roxanne, secretary

Bea, Computer Operations Supervisor

Bea, Computer Operations Supervisor 2

Computer Operator

Yvonne, Computer Operations Supervisor

Yvonne, Computer Operations Supervisor 2

Computer Operations Supervisor 2

Computer Operations Supervisor

Computer Operator 2

Computer Operators

Guitar player

Computer Operators 2

Computer Operators 3

Helen, Tape Librarian

Helen, Tape Librarian 2

Artist and work 1

Artist and work 2

Tape library

Karen, Data Control Unit

Data Control Unit

Toni (l), Data Control Supervisor

Honeywell DDP 516

Data Terminal Test Room

Data Terminal Test Room 2

Data Terminal Test Room 3

Demonstration Center

Prototype Terminal

‘In the late ’60′s I worked for Bell Labs for a few years managing a data center and developing an ultra high speed information retrieval system. ‘There was no natural light and I had a slim budget for decorations. I also had staff with artistic talents so I bought the materials and they made their own decorations.’

- Lawrence Luckham

12 Responses

  1. Susan

    This is such a great look back at the early days of computers, thanks for posting it! Also, does anyone else think the second-to-last picture could have been taken at Aperture Science? ;-)

  2. Thomas Arbs

    You faked those shots, did you? This is just too good to be true… the ops manager’s sideburns are beyond real, and details like the wall-mounted pencil sharpener in the “artist and work” view? And Karen’s second name is really DELL? Oh life, it has its moments.

    • Crockettman

      Exactly what I thought. Looks like it was staged and filtered with instagram or whatnot…

      If they are real, I’m impressed there are no MEN working on these early computer systems. Usually the women stayed behind the desk, the men were the ones labeled “Computer Operator Supervisior”.

  3. Howie

    The Honeywell DDP-516 was the computer used for the Interface Message Processors – the first routers on the pre-Internet ARPANET in the late 60s.

  4. Greg

    @Susan – Exactly what I thought when I first saw that – All it needed was the voice of Cave Johnson.

    Amazing view of the past. No terminals on peoples desks. IBM mainframe. Dress styles. Even the hair.

  5. Don

    Did anyone else notice he only remembered the names of the “attractive” secretaries :P Everyone else had generic titles.

  6. Michael

    Hal, please open the pod doors! Hal! Open the pod doors!………I’m sorry Dave, I cannot open the pod doors…….

  7. dej

    “‘There was no natural light and I had a slim budget for decorations.”

    Most data centers I’ve been in don’t have natural light. Especially these days, where security is important.

  8. Karl

    Ah, memories.. IBM 360 series, where the halts read in Hexadecimal on the operator’s console. Those disk platters weighed about 10 pounds, were ‘spun into’ the actual drive, which was the size of a modern washing machine. You couldn’t put the drives too close together because on sort mode they’d rock across the floor, and smack rhythmically into one another. Lots of shots of hanging and categorizing those 9 track tapes. Thanks for this remembrance. Humbling to think I have more storage and processing power in my iPhone.

  9. Valerie

    My childhood home was near Bell labs in Holmdel, NJ. It was a beautiful, mysterious compound of buildings I was always awed to see, and I feel now I have gotten a secret behind the scenes peek. As a child I marveled at the technological wonders that might have been going on there. My parents told me of the gigantic transistor on the lush grounds, and always inspired my curiosity. Thanks for the pictures!!


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