It started innocently enough with an eBay listing I stumbled upon, practically by accident. There it was, a genuine LGP-30 complete with Flexowriter. It was in Canada…which favored the US dollar at the time, but which also meant shipping logistics would come into play. After an excruciatingly long week of ‘wait and see’ on bidding, and some communication with the seller, I pulled the trigger and secured the machine. It was at that point the real adventure began…
For those not familiar, the LGP-30 is a first generation computer, using vacuum tubes, diodes and a magnetic drum for memory. Input/output is by way of a Friden Flexowriter which was a popular I/O device at the time. The computer runs on standard wall current, requires no special air conditioning and is roughly the size of a desk. All good things to look for when you don’t have a dedicated machine room and the perks to go with it. Weight is in the 700-800lb ballpark, much of which can be attributed to the hefty steel frame, the mag drum with sizable motor, and one massive power supply chassis. See the ‘What’s an LGP-30 Section for more’
I was born in ’81 and missed the heyday of ‘big iron’. As a kid, my exposure to such machines was through TV and books; file footage on the news might be a couple years old, so when there was talk of computers on TV, the accompanying footage was often of spinning mag tapes on an IBM 370, and library books might include a picture of an Apple II, but business computers were still portrayed as large mainframe affairs well into the mid-80s. This seemed incongruous to the world I knew at the time, where the SE/30 my dad would bring home from work had graphics and mouse and fit in a bag. Maybe one day I’d have a “real computer” of my own.
So, here I am at age 35, attempting to fulfill such a fantasy. This blog will serve as a restoration diary of sorts, on the resurrection of LGP-30 #393.
Updated: Dec 2017 Cory Heisterkamp