Did You Know About the IBM Gift Advisor?

Every December I have the same problem – I can never seem to figure out what to get my wife for the holidays. Rare is the year that she doesn’t end up returning most if not all of what I buy her. What I really need is the remarkable IBM Christmas Gift Advisor.

The IBM 1401 was introduced in 1959, and was the most popular computer of the 1960s.

The IBM 1401 was introduced in 1959, and was the most popular computer of the 1960s.

Fifty years ago, holiday shoppers in the Wolf & Dessauer department store in Fort Wayne, Indiana, had an IBM 1401 help them with gift ideas for their problem giftees. The desperate shoppers filled out multiple choice forms that described the person they were shopping for. The data was then punched into IBM cards at the Gift Advisor computer center on the third floor of the store, read into a specially programmed 1401 at the rate of 800 cards a minute, and presto! In less  time than it took to check the price tag on a potential gift for Uncle Russell, the gift-challenged shopper was, um, ‘present’ed with a printed shopping list of 10 gift ideas, courtesy of IBM’s 600-lines-a-minute 1403 printer. The list included price ranges, and the grateful shopper could then consult floor guides to find out the location of where these products were located. IBM – taking stress out of the holidays since 1962.

———————

The December 2012 theme for The Greater IBM Connection is ‘corporate history’, and Paul Lasewicz, IBM Corporate Archivist, will be sharing with us some of the highlights from IBM’s history.

Paul Lasewicz, IBM Corporate Archivist

Paul Lasewicz, IBM Corporate Archivist

About these ads

9 thoughts on “Did You Know About the IBM Gift Advisor?

  1. Hi! Thanks for taking the time to contact us. The 360 was the most important and historic computer of its day, but sold far fewer units than the 1400 series. At a time when there were about 30,000 computers worldwide, the 1400s sold more than 15,000 units. Hence the categorization as most popular. (reply from Paul Lasewicz)

  2. Pingback: The Giftinator 2000 « A Lotta Martilottas

  3. Great, and now in addition to helping solve the most difficult healthcare problems, Watson can tackle this issue which has challenged spouses for ages.

  4. Pingback: Da série “Mais Antigo do que Você Pensa”: falando em IBM 1401… | Retrocomputaria Plus

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s