IBM 704

Commissionned work

The IBM 704 introduced by IBM in 1954, is the first mass-produced computer with floating-point arithmetic hardware. The 704 used vacuum tube logic circuitry and core memory.

This 1:16 scale model was commissioned by a private collector. A Second identical model but with a different color scheme was also made.

This polystyrene model had many challenging parts and due to time and budget constraints some parts were done using 3D printing. As I study production of small batch runs in the future, I started incorporating resin 3D printing in my workflow and this model is the first time this technique was used.

Decals for this model have also enjoyed a nice upgrade compared to the old technique, now using ink jet printing which much finer resolution than the old laser printer. This is especially visible on the main unit control panel.

The vacuum tubes of the 735 magnetic core unit was a real challenge and 3D printing with translucent resin worked really well in replicating the look of the real tubes. Mixing polystyrene modeling with the printing technique really helps in adding extremely complex fine details that would otherwise take months to recreate by hands.

The set of rules I established for myself while prototyping is that everything should be done by hand when humanly possible based on the budget available, and only doing 3D part otherwise. This contrast with my rules for making future small batches of replicas where it will be mostly 3D printing and only using handcrafted part when impossible to replicate with resin.