Down (core rope) memory lane

Down (core rope) memory lane

During the late 1960s/70s GEW (then SATI) developed and built unique memory technology for its process control computers, called core rope memory. This technology was advanced for its time and was also used by NASA, MIT and Raytheon during this period. The technology made use of small ferrite core magnets that were used in early computer memories where data was stored in the residual magnetic fields of the ferrite. Software written for this hardware was woven into the core rope memory by ladies who were specially appointed by GEW for their superior knitting and crochet skills. The ladies would even ‘edit’ the software by modifying the individual stitches and strands.

GEW produced this technology for commercial applications at the time and it was notably used by ISCOR (now ArcelorMittal South Africa) to control its furnaces and automate the cranes used to carry the iron ore.

To this day, GEW retains some of these precious artefacts, including the core rope memory. This keepsake is a ‘vessel of memory’ that reminds us of GEW’s first steps in the industry, our spirit of comradery and the vast strides we have made in technology.

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