Sunday, November 3, 2019 archives & The last 620

Does anyone know the original author of this site?  Is he/she still out there?
(backup at

José A. Margolles Rodríguez  or José Mesa

There are some fantastic promotional images of the Nixdorf 620 (Entrex 480) system and Data/Scope Keystations (terminals) on here...

Where did he get these?

And then there's 
The Last 620
(backup at
[translated from Spanish]
In the Computing magazine of the first week of March, an article appears that I believe deserves a place on the website that I have set up. I remember that it would be for the year 1978, when I mounted (installed) a System 620 in that convent, equipment that effectively served as described in the article to record and preprocess data of the Popular Bank (it was not the only one convent), and that for a few years I was attending with more pleasure than I had [visiting] other clients. If I went in the morning, the nuns would serve me a breakfast of pastries and coffee with milk, if I did it at noon it would turn into a fifth of beer with some olives; sometimes they delighted me with religious songs (I had told them that I liked the Gregorian), and of course every piece that I disassembled, I scrupulously cleaned with a cloth.

José Mesa -

Praying to God and with the computer working

The last Nixdorf 620 is still operational in a convent of Poor Clares [convento de clarisas] of Alcalá de Henares. For 20 years, six nuns of this order have collected data for Banco Popular with the help of a two-and-a-half-megabyte machine before the PC era. Not even the "millennium virus" can kill this dinosaur.

Finding a computer from 20 years ago is still operative in itself, an amazing fact. If it is the Nixdorf 620 model, which was replaced at five years by 8850 of the same brand, the astonishment grows. And if in addition this huge data capture machine belongs to a convent of The Order of Santa Clara located in Alcalá de Henares, the news automatically becomes the back cover of this weekly [publication].

This Nixdorf 620 is the last of its kind, a very useful historical copy, at the time, for data capture. It was one of the first who entered Spain, back in 1978. Two years before the arrival of the PC. In the cloistered convent he was received with all honors. This two-and-a-half megabyte machine would constitute an important source of income for The Order.

Twenty years later, six sisters continue to "chop" commissioned data for the Banco Popular. Slowly, they enter the information into very old eight-inch tapes with a capacity that does not exceed 256 Kb. The system is very simple, but effective: not to deplete the disk memory, starting at 512 Kb. data is written directly to the magnetic tape. In this way the capacity is unlimited.

These sisters have changed the smell of butter, yolks and other culinary delights kneaded for years by their Franciscan companions by the futuristic world of databases.

What most surprises Siemens technical maintenance team that now deals with 620, is the good state of this "octogenarian." "They are very careful and clean the cabinets of the system daily. It has been out of order very rarely and I think it still has a few years of operation," Siemens representative Pedro Errejón told COMPUTING. The machine, with the dimensions of a computer dinosaur, is composed of two vertical cabinets; a short turning band [small tape drive] unit and another cabinet in which monitor and keyboard are integrated. It is not modular, so the technician has to go with the oscilloscope because the plates [placas, system boards] are not removable. On the terminal they have placed a handmade embroidered cloth and the image of a saint.

The 2000 effect [Y2k bug] is not a problem for this model because, as Errejón explained, the nuns do not use the system date at all. "Even if they are secluded, these nuns are very up-to-date with the latest technology. They know that connecting to the Internet could be useful for sending data over the network. However, they do not see it as profitable ".

The key is in a philosophy of life based on thoroughness. It is a job that does not require being in the technological career. The final result matters more than the time spent. They do not depend on third parties, they do not depend on Infovía Plus, nor on the convergence of the euro.

Oddly enough, they have been left behind in their own order. On Internet search engines you can find pages of sisters of Poor Clares [hermanas clarisas] who promote their confectionery within a concept as current as e-commerce. There are personal pages of the religious who transmit their message using HTML. And the latest fashion; In Madrid alone, more than 30 electronic "collection plates" [donation portals] have been placed that optimize the charity of the faithful with the possibility of using the credit card.

Computing Spain - Diana Delgado


Convento de Santa Clara, católico, en la ciudad de Alcalá de Henares, Madrid

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