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NCR 304

1957 USA

by J.F.van Hanswijk Pennink
retired employee of NCR 1961-1995











NCR took the risk in the 1950’s to skip the production of vacuum tube computers and went directly into solid-state with the introducing of the NCR 304 data processing system in 1957.

The NCR 304 computer was the result of NCR’s determination to introduce the first solid-state computer.
The computer consisted of a central processor, magnetic tape memory units, media converters, and high-speed input and output equipment.
The first 304 installation was for the U.S. Marine Corps at Camp Pendleton, California , in 1959.
The system was used to maintain personal and equipment records. The Marine Corps had stipulated that the 304 must run at least 90% of the time without failure for 30 consecutive days.
It easily exceeded that then rigorous standard, with a near-perfect 99.3% “uptime” average.
As result of that success three more systems were installed in Washington, DC, to maintain records on almost one-half million Marines and to process over one million changes per year on records.
The first commercial buyer of the NCR 304 computer was R.H.Macy and Co department store in New York.
The computer was shipped to New York in September 1960 and took 11 days to become fully operational
Among other well known users was the Sumitomo Bank in Osaka, Japan, used a complete NCR 304 system along with a host of NCR class 32 accounting machines and NCR class 42 saving machines with NCR 461 paper tape recorder for input to the NCR 304 computer.
The NCR 304 computer was widely viewed as a technologically advanced product which gave NCR “stature in the larger computer field”
Some NCR 304 computers were still being used in 1974, 17 years after the system’s introduction.

Note of the writer:
This achievement was possible in my opinion because of dedicated managers and employers. NCR took good care of them and was a social family company.








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