The ‘Penn State Automatic Computer’ →

Some local history on one of the first large-scale university computers.

They secured $25,000 in University funds and $17,000 from the National Science Foundation for constructing PENNSTAC — Penn State Automatic Computer. The machine they envisioned would cost $300,000 on the commercial market. Yet building it from scratch, Tarpley said, would provide his team of faculty and graduate students invaluable hands-on experience.

And this:

According to a 1957 account in the Daily Collegian student newspaper, PENNSTAC could “perform 1,400 additions of 10-digit numbers in one second, and its magnetic drum can store 2.5 thousand 10-digit figures.”

In the absence of information, people make shit up. Worse, if they at all feel threatened they make shit up that amplifies their worst fears. This is where those absolutely crazy rumors come from.