Ancient IBM mainframe rescued from abandoned building

I enjoy old sciency movies a lot, it’d be interesting visiting a universe where all of that stuff was possible! Where “Let’s simulate his brain in this computer we use to print out our invoices” sounds like a good idea! This universe is more amazing, though, so I prefer living here.

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There’s probably an app for that.

The original listing lists 11 components by model number (which I have looked up for you)

model description
29 keypunch
1403 line printer
2020 System/360 Model 20
2152 printer keyboard
2203 line printer
2311 disk storage drive
2415 magnetic tape unit
2501 card reader
3125 ibm 370/125
3504 card reader
5471 printer/keyboard console of the System/3

Original listing

wir bieten Ihnen eine relativ seltene Anlage Puma Computer IBM 2020 wohl aus den 1980er Jahren in Rot mit Zubehör, Regal mit Rollen u.a. an. Einzelne Teile sind gekennzeichnet mit den Nummern: SYSTEM 360, IBM 29, 3504, 2020, 1403, 3125, 5471, 2415, 2311, 2203, 2501, 2560, 2152. Da diese Anlage schon längere Zeit in einem älteren Haus steht, wissen wir nicht, ob diese komplett ist. Ob alle Teile da sind, ist für uns als ausführende Firma im Auftrag des Hauseigentümers nicht bekannt. Einzelteile sind im schlechteren Zustand und möglich korrodiert.
Die Maße sind unterschiedlich, max. Höhe 1,7 m ca. Insgesamt sind sechs Teile in den Maßen ca. 1 x 1 m, Tiefe ca. 60 cm.

So, quite a large manifest of equipment already, and “u. a” (and other things) implies that the entire suite was to be sold.


So there was a System/370, too! That’s another (and more sophisticated and powerful) computer, and totally ignored in the article. Thanks!

Edit: Or, that might just be a serial cable:

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Honestly “SHIELD geniuses secretly developed a supercomputer in the 1970s that could run a simulation of a human mind” isn’t really any more out-there than “Hank Pym invented shrinking technology back in the 60s” or “Tony Stark invented a pocket-size nuclear reactor that could power a flying super-suit he built out of scrap metal.”


What made me look twice was the statement “in Rot”. The other mainframes are blue.

It remains ambiguous. The seller was obviously uninformed and the listing vague and the buyer didn’t seem to ask/tell.

It’s quite possible I’m wrong but that issue caught my eye and rubbed me the wrong way.

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Right, but rare <> always equal valuable. I mean there is a lot of arcane tech out there, I am thinking like late 1800s, early 1900s, from farm to factory, that is left rusting in field somewhere. Mainly because not only are they basically useless today, but their size makes them too bulky for a regular decorative display.

I mean, cool. I like it, just surprised.

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I’m just wondering who the other bidders were. Either they were someone from similar computer history organizations, or drunks.


I don’t think that the value matters, its just the bulk of it is what made it so difficult to preserve. I’m sure there’s plenty of awesome early industrial machines that no longer have existing examples of.

The IBMs in this article are pretty neat looking, i’m surprised that the exterior looks decent. Wonder how rough the components are…

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Cool story. I read all three parts and hope he (they?) document the process of getting both computers working in as much detail. Kudos.

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I read all three of their blog posts, and it sounded increasingly familiar. You know what this is? This is the classic car restoration story. Until maybe 20 or 30 years ago, this was a mainstay of car magazines, the nostalgic recovery of a car from the author’s past. It’s usually found by chance in an old barn or industrial building about to be torn down. The author has to own it. They negotiate with the crusty farmer or former plant manager and secure the rights. Then comes the extraction story followed by the loving restoration story. It usually ends with the author driving the car. I’ll stay tuned here. I’m a sucker for this kind of story. Let’s hope it ends with them happily submitting an OS/360 batch FORTRAN H job or logging in on a TSO terminal. Sob. Sniffle.

P.S. It’s related to the rescue animal story, but that usually has even more pathos to wallow in. Computers are great, but dogs!


The presence of System/370 peripherals (model numbers beginning with 3, rather than 2) suggests that this particular shop upgraded their machine.

Actually we were told that anything computer related in the building was ours. We bought the whole lot. They didn’t really care and just wanted the building cleared out so the owner could renovate it. They’re very happy that we’ve got and they really like what we’re going to do with it. Someone from the Auction House was on hand at all time and assisted us with the removal. There is absolutely nothing underhand going on here!


Based on what you know of the building’s past history, what were the computers likely used for?


A renovation? Oh No! I hope that new owner is keen on this particular architectural gem.

“To make this worse, somebody had decided in their infinite wisdom to run a mains water pipe lagged in foam behind the door impeding it’s opening to anything past 45 degrees!”


Decorative Display can mean that the original technological purpose of the artifact is destroyed. Kind of like the Graflex Flash Gun.

We’re not really sure, we have some of the original installation documents but we need to read them and have them translated. The building it’s in has some odd and debatable provenance that I’ll probably discuss in a later post!


Super interesting read, and I got a sore back and neck just from looking at the mess and work required in the photos. Still would have loved to be there.
Anyway, hope boingboing will remind me of this with future updates.
I also see that there is a gofundme for moving the lot to Britain; sure, some money for this labour of love, no sweat. If one day this machine -after what 54 years?- could be running again, that’d be swell.

Edit: And the gofundme ( ) is already at over £1.000 / >20%, so this should go through in no time.


Thanks for stopping by and sharing more!