The IBM 1130/2250 computer system and graphic display was IBM's lowest cost system (when it was released in 1965) and was intended for the technical and engineering market. The 1130 was the central processing unit which could be used in a stand alone mode or as a peripheral to the IBM 360 mainframe. The 2250 was its graphic display. In the stand-alone 1130/2250 configuration it could provide (for its time) powerful graphical facilities and when attached to an IBM 360 could be used both for display and conversational (interactive) functions when working with large databases and other mainframe level tasks. It can be considered as an early version of the mini-computer even though it was not called that at the time. Because of its low cost this system tended to be used by university faculties and small research groups.
Images of both a graphical and alphanumeric description were displayed as point-to-point vectors distributed over the 1024 x 1024 possible points the display was able to plot. Vectors could be modified through the use of an alpha-numeric keyboard, the program-function keyboard or the light pen. The system could provide near instantaneous response to commands to alter drawings and allowed for a conversational mode of interaction when developing graphical solutions to various computing tasks.
This particular system was housed at the IBM Systems Development Institute (SDI) in Canberra. [IBM Systems Development Institute, IBM Australia Limited, 80 Northbourne Avenue, Canberra, A.C.T. 2600, Australia.] The SDI was a section of IBM charged with developing new business for IBM through strategic joint research projects with tertiary institutions and industry [Stone: The kind of business that didn't imply immediate sales follow-up].
Staff of the SDI included: Brian Stone, Wal Thornhill, A. J. Bayes, W. Neville Holmes, V. Rajaraman.
SDI's work was not primarily graphics but they (Wal Thornhill, Brian Stone, and people from collaborating organisations) prototyped a number of useful things:
- Interactive adjustment of weather map contours (isobars) for the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology
- Architectural science work involving design of buildings for solar elevation (in conjunction with John Gero at Sydney University Architectural Science)
- Simulation of lock and weir system on the upper Murray River - this simulation system called CSMP (continuous simulation modelling program) - implemented as a standard analogue computer interface (ie. digital simulation of an analogue computer operation) and used a graphics I/O interface. Set up the simulation using a library of visual modules on the 2250 screen then let the simulation run. Produced graphics as output, results to screen or to IBM (re-badged Calcomp) plotter.
- Interface prototyping for Weapons Research Establishment (WRE, Salisbury) solid fuel rocket motor simulation for analysis of stresses on the surfaces of the fuel honeycomb structure [the honeycomb structure maximises burn surface area] for controlled burn.
- Sales support graphics for a NZ company selling pre-fabricated modular building sections used for the rapid building of tailored houses from a standard inventory.
- Mining excavation: initial graphic systems analysis. The problem of where to excavate the "stopes" (rectangular holes excavated in the copper ore bodies) for best economic return and for organising the refilling of the stopes and a way of visualising the results.
The 1130/2250 was considered a very reliable system, this particular system appears to have still been in use in as late as 1981 (this date appears on one of the punch cards). The NSW Department of Main Roads also used an 1130 system for some of its first computing research.