Western Electric ICP Series  
Written by Accutron on 2008-12-06  

Devices included in this entry:

Western Electric GF40139 (11-pin metal can carrier)
Western Electric GF40142 (11-pin metal can carrier)
Western Electric GF40143 (11-pin metal can carrier)
Western Electric GF40145 (11-pin metal can carrier)
Western Electric GF40148 (11-pin metal can carrier)
Western Electric GF40165 (11-pin metal can carrier)
Western Electric 11294629 (engineering sample; pictured in thumbnail)
Western Electric 11294641 (11-pin ceramic sandwich carrier)
Western Electric 11294644 (11-pin ceramic sandwich carrier)
Motorola 11294641 (11-pin ceramic sandwich carrier)
Motorola 11294650 (11-pin ceramic sandwich carrier)
Motorola 11294651 (11-pin ceramic sandwich carrier)


Western Electric produced two generations of Integrated Circuit Package (ICP) discrete direct-coupled transistor logic devices which were used exclusively in the Bell/UNIVAC Data Processing Systems DPS-1 and DPS-2, immense multiprocessor supercomputers designed for the Nike-X and Sentinel anti-ballistic missile systems. The DPS performed all calculations necessary to identify and track incoming threats, calculated the point at which the threat could be intercepted, and generated orders necessary to launch and guide defensive missiles to the intercept point. Though they are obscure and poorly documented systems, the DPS-1 and DPS-2 were the most powerful computers of their era, capable of executing at a rate of 20MIPS - double the computing power of a CDC 6600 supercomputer, or around 100 times the power of a midrange IBM System/360.

GF401xx series ICP devices were employed in the DPS-1, and were among the first integrated circuits produced by Western Electric. GF401xx ICPs are hybrid devices composed of multiple discrete semiconductor dies, mounted on a white ceramic substrate and encased in a gold-plated metal canister. 112946xx series devices were used in the DPS-2, and feature a semi-monolithic construction packaged in a ceramic sandwich carrier. Though they differ in construction, both ICP generations share the same basic form factor and proprietary 11-pin base. While a typical ICP has square wire wrap pins, some part numbers have round through-hole leads for soldering into conventional circuit cards. These package types and pin configurations are exclusive to ICP devices, and were used neither commercially nor with any other Western Electric components.

ABM Research & Development at Bell Laboratories: Project History (PDF)

Only a handful DPS-1 and DPS-2 systems were built. The first DPS-1 prototype was operating at Bell Labs' Whippany, New Jersey facility by 1967, and a second DPS-1 was installed on Meck Island. The DPS-2 was a major modification of the DPS-1, with increased reliability, a lower manufacturing cost and other improvements. The Whippany DPS-1 was reconfigured to DPS-2 specifications in 1970, and a second DPS-2 was installed at the Tactical Software Control Site (TSCS) in Madison, New Jersey.

DPS wire-wrap chassis are possibly the most impressive computer circuits ever built. A chassis consists of a perforated card, populated by a dense 27x11 grid of ICP through-hole sockets. Each card can accept up to 289 ICP devices, with the remaining eight cells reserved for steel screw bosses which retain the card's metal cover. Each chassis has nearly 700 pins, with multi-tiered spring contact edge connectors on the top, bottom and rear edges, and four female 24-pin rectangular connectors mounted flush in the outward-facing edge of the card's massive metal chassis. The ICP devices are socketed directly through the card with their pins wire-wrapped together on the back. The DPS chassis design is of a universal construction, capable of accepting any configuration of ICP devices and pinouts desired by the system designer.


The Minnesota Card

In January 2017, the Herbert H. Warrick Jr. Museum of Communications (now known as the Connections Museum) contacted us about an unidentified circuit card which turned out to be a DPS-1 chassis. The card was once stored in a display case at the University of Minnesota, presumably donated by an alumnus or faculty member who was once employed at UNIVAC. Of the 289 sockets on the card, 199 are populated by ICP devices. This card stands as the only surviving example of a DPS chassis currently known, and also includes five examples of a possibly intermediate device numbered 11202880. Although it has a similar part number to the 112946xx series, 11202880 is packaged in a metal can like the GF401xx series, and was manufactured six months before the earliest known 112946xx engineering samples. It is unknown whether these devices are of a hybrid or semi-monolithic construction.

The Prototype Card

In December 2017, a private collector sent us photos of a circuit card which includes 17 GF401xx ICPs and one example of 11202880. While this card utilizes a wire wrap construction like that of a DPS chassis, the card is much smaller, with a 5x6 grid of ICP sockets and a conventional 28-pin edge connector. Although the majority of devices on this card have 1968 date codes, there is one GF40145 device dated August 1965. The card has no provisions for advanced ruggedization or massive interconnection capability, and the wire wrap layout appears extemporaneous. These characteristics suggest that it is some sort of circuit prototyping card.


Western Electric GF401xx ICP logic devices: GF40139, GF40142, GF40143, GF40145, GF40148 and GF40165.


GF40165 ICP, underside construction.


GF40143 ICP, internal construction.


Western Electric 11294629 second generation ICP engineering sample, manufactured at the Allentown Works production facility.


11294629 engineering sample, internal construction under magnification. Unlike the earlier GF401xx ICPs, 112946xx devices contain a single 16-pin monolithic integrated circuit and a small number of discrete passives, mounted in a ceramic sandwich hybrid package.


Western Electric second generation ICP logic devices: 11294641 and 11294644.


Motorola second-source ICP logic devices: 11294641, 11294650 and 11294651.


Western Electric DPS chassis, construction diagram.


Minnesota Card Configuration Diagram




Total Known ICP Devices

There are currently 26 known ICP part numbers and 273 confirmed devices in museums and private collections.

Part No. Package Construction Quantity
GF40139 11-pin wire-wrap canister hybrid 22
GF40140 11-pin wire-wrap canister hybrid 93
GF40142 11-pin wire-wrap canister hybrid 32
GF40143 11-pin wire-wrap canister hybrid 55
GF40145 11-pin wire-wrap canister hybrid 17
GF40146 11-pin wire-wrap canister hybrid 2
GF40148 11-pin wire-wrap canister hybrid 7
GF40159 11-pin wire-wrap canister hybrid 4
GF40162 11-pin wire-wrap canister hybrid 1
GF40164 11-pin wire-wrap canister hybrid 3
GF40165 11-pin wire-wrap canister hybrid 7
GF40166 11-pin wire-wrap canister hybrid 3
GF40170 11-pin through-hole canister hybrid -
GF40171 11-pin through-hole canister hybrid -
GF40172 11-pin through-hole canister hybrid -
GF40173 11-pin through-hole canister hybrid -
GF40174 11-pin through-hole canister hybrid 1
GF40178 11-pin through-hole canister hybrid 2
GF40182 11-pin through-hole canister hybrid -
Unknown 11-pin wire-wrap canister hybrid 1
11202880 11-pin wire-wrap canister unknown 6
11294629 11-pin wire-wrap ceramic sandwich semi-monolithic 1
11294639 11-pin wire-wrap ceramic sandwich semi-monolithic 1
11294641 11-pin wire-wrap ceramic sandwich semi-monolithic 4
11294644 11-pin wire-wrap ceramic sandwich semi-monolithic 2
11294650 11-pin wire-wrap ceramic sandwich semi-monolithic 1
11294651 11-pin wire-wrap ceramic sandwich semi-monolithic 1
Type 1 ES 1x lidless GF401xx, 1x lidless 112946xx mixed 1 (x2)
Type 2 ES 1x 11294629 6812, 1x lidless 112946xx semi-monolithic 2 (x2)
Type 3 ES lidless 112946xx converted into a decorative pin semi-monolithic 1

This article is part of the [Digital Integrated Circuits] exhibit.

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