Nuremberg Site Visit 4 – An unexpected emergency return!

Yesterday Afternoon (21st of May 2019) I received a WhatsApp message from our German Auction house contact (come Photographer extraordinaire), Günter Hiller. It was a series of photographs, firstly of the roof of the machine room. It would seem over the weekend that the roof had leaked significantly right onto where the punched cards and the processor had been stored! It looks like we removed everything just in the absolute nick of time! Included in the photos were bits of IBM equipment, along with some engineering manuals. These had apparently been found in the room behind the room the computer was in, buried under a load of Porsche parts! This came as a surprise to everyone as they had previously been informed these rooms were empty. Further, in the attic space above the room, there were a lot of boxes labeled IBM!

Now usually, this wouldn’t have been an issue, I could just go over and get them at the weekend right? Well firstly flights on the bank holiday weekend were abhorrently expensive, and secondly the wrecking crew was in gutting the building! Not ideal! I spoke to Günter, booked some flights (£40 return with a hold bag – not a bad price even if I did have to suffer RyanAir once again) for the following day (Wednesday the 22nd of May 2019), leaving in the morning and coming back at night. I booked another hire van and then prepared for the trip by throwing some ratchet straps in a case along with a couple of tools and some gloves.

Chris picked me up at 04:15AM on Wednesday morning and drove me to Standsted airport once more. I caught the 7:35 flight to Nuremberg touching down at 10:30 local time. A taxi took me to the van rental place (Sixt again…) where I was dreading what they would give me this time – happily I got a van with only 6000KM on it! Wonderful.

I had arranged to meet Günter at 12, but I was running slightly early so I arrived there at about 11:25. The wrecking crews van was blocking the driveway so I had to go and park the van at the shop down the road – surprisingly there was enough room in their on-street parking bays!

I walked back to the building and discovered that the crew had already removed some of the items – another 2501 punched card reader; in Blue this time and with English buttons, along with the remnants of a 5444 disk drive plus some other bits.

I then ventured up some concrete stairs and into the attic space. Despite the somewhat interesting floor, I discovered boxes upon boxes of brand new, unopened IBM punched cards! These things can be rather hard to come across so I’m glad we’ve got more. It was enough to pretty much fill a pallet 3 boxes high! In amongst these there was also some tapes – including 2 brand new IBM branded tapes still in their original packaging!

The shelving holding these boxes was, frankly, a terrifying lash up job. There were some homemade brackets bolted to the wall with bits of wood resting on them – nothing securing the wood to the brackets! This meant that pulling the boxes, whilst stood on a ladder, on a floor that had seen better days and had a couple of large holes in it, was rather risky. To compound the issue, right under the main shelf where you’d want to put a ladder, there was a door to the room below. Okay…. these boxes are rather heavy so we had quite a job to get them down from the shelves and then down the staircase, but Günter and I managed it together.

By this point the wrecking crew had packed in for the day and so I backed the van down the driveway and we loaded it up with the stuff. Günter retrieved the manuals from his car and put them in the cab of the van. We then secured everything and headed off to the storage place with Günter coming along in his car.

We took one of the spare pallets at the storage place and loaded all of the punched cards onto it. We then used a pallet truck to move it into the building – this made life considerably easier! We then unloaded the rest of the kit having done a bit of shuffling, said our goodbyes and locked up.

Perhaps we haven’t thanked Günter enough on this blog, not only did he take pretty much all of the fantastic photos from the move, but he’s also been absolutely instrumental in the successful removal of the computer; frequently adjusting his schedule and moving his appointments around to suit us. On top of this he often provided the extra bit of grunt we needed to get things moving and get them loaded. Without him our job would have been significantly more difficult. For all of this we are eternally grateful! Here is a photograph of the man himself:

Adam Bradley

About Adam Bradley

Adam is multi-talented engineer who's been involved in the computer history field for over a decade at The National Museum of Computing. Adam wears many hats, but he's primarily a Railway Engineer day to day, and when he's not playing with trains or computers he's probably to be found designing and building something vehicle related.
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