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Wang Laboratories 380 Programmer

Image Courtesy Laura Greenfield

Image Courtesy Frank Trantanella

The Wang 380 was a follow-on to the earlier Wang 370 programmer. Both of these keyboard/display units were designed to connect to the higher-end Wang 300-series electronics package, and provide more advanced programming capabilities than the earlier punch-card programmers that could be connected up to a traditional Wang 300-series keyboard unit, which provided linear programs that were not capable of making logical decisions or performing branching operations. The 370 and 380 had the capability to make logical judgments and branch to different points in the program based on such decisions. The 370 utilized punched card programming, with up to four punched card readers that could be connected to the programmer. The 380 eliminated the punched card programming, and used a magnetic tape cartridge that would store the program. While more flexible than punched cards, the serial-access tape was rather slow when it came to searching for program steps when doing branching operations. Both the 370 and 380 programmers were developed in response to Dr. An Wang's startling introduction to Hewlett Packard's 9100 calculator at a secret showing at an electronics trade show in early 1968.