Tuesday, May 9, 2017

#146) Bernadette P. Stahle, 1925 - 2017

Betty Grieve, nee Perkin (known at Librascope as Betty Gillikin), recently reported the following from Liverpool, England:

Bernadette Stahle passed away peacefully at the age of 91 on February 17th in Palm Desert, CA with her daughter Pam at her side. Bernie retired from Librascope Operations in 1991 after serving 26 years. She was the wife of Howard Stahle, who passed in 2011 (click here to see Howard's Blog Post #35).

Bernie's daughter Polly took this photograph of her several years ago while they were visiting Paris.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

#145) Moving a Canadian Oberon Class “O” Boat was on TV.

Thanks to Libravet Steve Dietrich for the following report.

I was watching a program recently on the Smithsonian Channel called “Humongous Moves”, and it was about a group moving a retired Canadian Oberon Class “O” boat to become a museum.

Having worked a little bit on MK 1 Mod C in the training department back in the early 80’, I was kind of shocked to hear they were all retired forgetting it has been over 30 years since we developed the system.

Anyway, I was doing some reading about the boats on Wikipedia and found this photo of the Mk 1 Mod C fire control system from the HMCS Onondaga. Man, did that bring back memories. I did notice that the bullnose has been removed from one of the units. You can even make out the Singer nameplate.

In fact, the Onondaga is being preserved as a museum in Rimouski, New Brunswick.

I worked in Customer Training for a couple of years after getting out of the Navy before moving to Installation Engineering and then Product Engineering. Most of the time I was farmed out to Arnold Peters. I worked on VLA, Mk 2 and BSY-2 and a mod for the MK 48 WDC before leaving in 1991. Once in awhile, I drive by the old complex when I am in the area and think back to the “Good ole days”.

One thing I wish could be done to the Librascope Memories web site is to have a “Memoriam” page for the Libravets who have passed. Georgine Archer had something like that at one time. I think it would be nice.

Anyway, just wanted to pass the photo along.

Best regards,
Steve Dietrich
Librascope Feb '82 – July '91

Friday, February 3, 2017

#144) Photos of 2016 Librascope Reunion Published on YouTube

Last November 5th, nearly 100  Libravets and guests gathered for Librascope's tenth bi-annual employee reunion since the company announced its closing in the late 1990's. This was almost twice the number of attendees originally forecast!

The reunion was held at the Acapulco restaurant in Glendale, and included a south-western buffet. As always, it was an opportune time to renew old friendships, and reminisce for several hours.

Throughout the day, several photos were taken which are now available on YouTube for everyone to see. The six minute "video slideshow" of the get together may be viewed by CLICKING HERE. Note, please use YouTube's full screen option in the lower right corner for the best viewing.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

#143) Stanford Destroys $300,000 Librascope Disc Memory

Photos of the large 4 foot diameter disc memories that Librascope designed and manufactured in the 1960’s have been published in the past (see photo), but the experiences of the customers for these large memories were not widely known. A January 28, 1977 Stanford University memo found on the Internet, however, describes their experience.

In 1967 the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at Stanford University purchased their 4 foot diameter disc memory from Librascope for $300,000. A short time before, a similar, if not identical, 4 foot memory was sold to Lawrence Radiation Laboratory (LRL) in Livermore, CA. Then in 1973, LRL donated their memory to Utah State University. Click here to view a copy of the detailed (97 page) March 10, 1965 Librascope proposal to LRL. Note, according to this "Large Scale Disc File" proposal, LRL's memory was patterned after Librascope's 473-L.

About a year after Stanford acquired their expensive disc, it had a massive malfunction that permanently destroyed half its memory capacity. Note, the large memory had five 4 foot magnetic discs (see photo). Stanford then sued Librascope, and collected $50,000. Soon after, Librascope reportedly discontinued production.

Finally in 1976, after nine years of (limited) use, Stanford's laboratory disconnected their memory from its laboratory computer, and received permission from their management to destroy it. The controller portion was given to Utah State University. Some parts of the memory were sold for scrap, and one or more of the disks were relegated to become oversize coffee tables. The remaining parts were auctioned off.

Click here to view a copy of the original January 28, 1977 Stanford memo describing the above history in more detail.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

#142) Librascope Service Awards Ceremony - 1996

Slide 1 - Opening Remarks
I recently came across several photographs that were taken at the 1996 Librascope Service Awards Ceremony. They are now published on YouTube as a short 76 second "slideshow video".

Awards given at the ceremony included Chelsea clocks and an unusual, but attractive, Benchmark indoor analog brass weather station made in Germany.

Note, for best viewing on YouTube, please elect to play the video "full screen" on your computer by clicking on the "Full screen" symbol located in the lower right hand corner of the YouTube screen.

Click here to go to YouTube and play the video. Enjoy.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

#141) Looking for Librascope L107MA Disc Memory information

The other day I received the following request (edited) from Josh Dersch, who restores old computers as a hobby and as a full time job at the Living Computer Museum in Seattle (click here). This museum was co-founded by Paul Allen, owner of the Seattle Seahawks and co-founder of Microsoft.
PS: If you are reading this post in an e-mail, you can leave a comment beneath this post (#141) on the blog's website (click here).

Hello --
I recently picked up an L107MA Disc Memory unit, and I was curious if you had any technical information about it, or know anyone who might - the Librascope Memories site has brochures covering the basics, but I'd like to be able to spin it up and interface it to something, so I need something with a bit more substance to it :).

I picked up the L107MA off of eBay last week from a seller in Santa Cruz, CA. It was reasonably priced for something this cool, under $200. (The seller now has a second unit listed for $225 -- item 331955558119).

I restore old computers as a hobby, and as a full-time job at the Living Computer Museum in Seattle. I have a decent collection of DEC and Data General hardware from the '60s and '70s. I'm hoping to interface the L107MA to one of my vintage machines (but I'll probably start with a modern micro-controller to get a feel for how it works).

I have attached a photo of the unit I have. It's missing the cover, but is otherwise in excellent condition, and was shipped to me in what appears to be the original box/packing materials.

If no specs or manuals are available, what would be excellent to have would be what the interface to the drive looked like (recalling the pinouts from memory seems unlikely, but knowing if the interface is serial or parallel, how blocks were selected, etc. would be useful).

Thanks very much for the help, and the wonderful website! Feel free to post my question on the blog; hopefully, someone out there has some information.
- Josh

Saturday, August 27, 2016

#140) This is your invitation to the 2016 Librascope Reunion

To: All Libravets and Associates,
It’s that time again! Georgine has just finished making the necessary arrangements (and commitments) for the 2016 Librascope Reunion in Glendale, CA. She has signed the contract, made a cash deposit, and negotiated a great deal for us this year. A minimum number of 50 attendees has been guaranteed, and a room with a capacity of 80 was reserved. In addition, a terrific buffet luncheon has been arranged. All this for 38% less than two years ago!

Now, we must respond to Georgine ASAP, so she can give the restaurant a better estimate of the attending headcount. All the payment and reservation details are given below. Note, for your convenience, Georgine will accept preliminary reservations.
See you there,

     You are invited to a Librascope Employee Reunion

A time to greet and enjoy your Librascope friends and colleagues.

View Librascope memorabilia and share unique retirement hobbies**

Saturday, November 5, 2016
11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.


Acapulco Mexican Restaurant
722 N Pacific Ave, Glendale CA 91203
(818) 246-8175‎

Directions: (click here)

Grande Fajita Buffet Luncheon - $26.00 per person

Coffee and No Host Bar at 11:00 a.m.; Lunch at 12:45 p.m.

Please RSVP to Georgine Archer by October 28, 2016:

By E-mail:  geoarcher@netzero.net By phone:  (818) 848-5664

With confirmation by check payable to and sent to:

Georgine Archer
509 East Andover Drive
Burbank, CA  91504

No refunds after October 28, 2016.


Please help us spread the word to all former Librascope employees and their guests. 

Former associates of Librascope are, of course, welcome too.

Enjoy almost 300 scanned Librazettes from 1940 to 1999, and many other Librascope documents at www.librascopememories.com 

**To share your unique or interesting hobby at the reunion, please contact Georgine Archer.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

#139) The Making of an LGP-30 Emulator Kit

Thanks to Libravet Tony Cappellini who provided the following news story:

While attending the Vintage Computer Festival - West (sponsored by the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA), Tony met Oscar Vermuelen from Switzerland. Oscar has a couple websites dedicated to vintage computers, including a couple emulation kits he designed and now offers for sale. One emulator kit is for the Digital Equipment Corp. (DEC) PDP-8.

Recently, Oscar undertook the task of emulating the Librascope LGP-30. Currently, he is putting together a kit for a small replica which will run on the tiny but affordable Raspberry Pi hobby computer.

Here are two of Oscar’s blog posts describing his LGP-30 progress so far this year:

February 21, 2016 Blog Post "Making a LGP-30" (click here)

June 3, 2016 Blog Post "Using the SIMH LGP-30 emulator" (click here)

To further his understanding, Oscar would like to exchange information with anyone from Librascope or anyone else that is familiar with the LGP-30. He can easily be reached using the Contact section on either of his two websites:. If you are reading this post in an e-mail, you may also leave a comment beneath this post on the blog's website (click here).

"Obsolescence Guaranteed" Blog Home Page (click here)
"Vintage Computers" Home Page (click here)

Friday, June 24, 2016

#138) 1950's Machine Shop Tooling Acquired On e-Bay

We continue to get interesting inquires from people who never worked at Librascope. The following email, from a Matthew Helton, is the most recent. My email response to Matt follows his.

Last week, I won an auction for some old machine tooling (KDK Quick Change Toolposts) on eBay. When I received the package today, I noticed the Librascope name was engraved on the quickchange body and one of the tool holders... so I ran a Google search on the name, idly wondering what would come up. I was quite surprised to find out what the name meant.

So, I have a couple of questions to ask, if I might: Just how large was Librascope's machine shop? The tooling I received were fairly old (The KDK nameplate refers to "Lorain 7 2197" in Southgate instead of Area Code 213...which puts the tool holder's vintage somewhere in the 1951-1957 timeframe). Old as these tools are, they do appear to be well cared for and the quickchange body is still tight, some 60 years after it was built. I bought the tools as part of a lot from an outfit in Hesperia, California.

Attached is a photo of the tooling.

Hi Matthew,
Thanks for writing. I started at Librascope in 1958, and the Company was growing rapidly. At that time the machine shop was a very important part of the Company, since it was still producing high-precision electro-mechanical products. That being said, during the 1950’s period, I would guess there were easily 100 workers in the machine shop. Total employment was probably about 10x that number.

Hope that helps,

PS I’ll post this on our Librascope Memories - News Blog, and we’ll see if anyone can tell you more about your interesting find.

Friday, June 3, 2016

#137) Don Tubbs' and His Team’s Plan to Go 300+ MPH.

Since their Librascope retirement, Don Tubbs, Ed Niekamp, and Dan Sibley have been very busy preparing to help a famous race car owner’s family set new land speed records. Don, the project's Technical Director, recently sent me the following e-mail with an attached industry newsletter describing their project activities and goals.

Hi Carl. 
Well we finally took our Bonneville Salt Flats "Smoke-n-Mirrors" streamliner for its first ever test runs. Ed Niekamp, Dan Sibley, and myself have spent many hours of hard work to get it ready for this year's racing season. Ed is the electrical/electronic engineer on the project, and Dan helps Ed and I with the computer areas. 

Below is a link to an interesting newsletter article about the recent success of our efforts at the El Mirage dry lake bed, where the Southern California Timing Association  (SCTA) has a race track. My old friend, Kent Fuller, designed this race car a few years ago, and now his grandson, Gregory Fuller, is the driver.

The other day we had a meeting to discuss all the work required in order for us to be ready for "Speed Week" at the Bonneville Salt Flats. This will certainly keep us retired Librascope engineers happy and plenty busy.

Project Technical Director

PS Please click here to view the Rodder's Journal newsletter article titled "Smoke-n-Mirrors" Hits the Lakes. Below are photos from this article. Note, Don is driving the "push truck".