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An Occasional Letter on the Historical Collection at The Computer
From: David Farber <farber () central cis upenn edu>
Date: Tue, 3 Jan 1995 16:22:34 -0500
Date: 3 Jan 95 08:40:46 EDT
From: "Collections News" <COLLECTIONS_NEWS () tcm org>
Subject: The December Newsletter
To: "collections_subscribers" <collections_subscribers () tcm org>
Message-Id: <"64042130105991/56295 () VAX1"@tcm.org>
An Occasional Letter on the Historical Collection at The Computer Museum
No. 2, Dec. 1994.
From Gwen Bell, Director Historical Collection and Brian Wallace, Manager
ABOUT THIS LETTER
This letter, the second in a series of occasional letters, will be sent to
anyone interested in collecting and preserving artifacts, documentation,
photographs, film/video, and other records relating to the history of the
technology of computing. Please feel free to forward it and send us the email
addresses of anyone that you think might like to receive the letter.
Thanks to those who responded to our first letter; we hope all new recipients
will send return mail confirming that they wish to receive future letters. As
noted in the first letter, we rely on your help to help us locate, assess, and
acquire items for the collection.
A DONATION WITH A DIFFERENCE
One of the Museum's long-time supporters, James R. Payne, whose company,
Consolidated Diversified, is a manufacturer of electronic enclosures in Philo,
Illinois, recently made a large donation to the collection that exemplifies
the kind of cooperation we depend on to continue to build our historical
Jim contacted us last Spring with an offer of ten artifacts, ranging from
spare solid state logic and memory components to complete vacuum tube and drum
memory units (all listed at the end of this article). After deciding to add
all the artifacts to the collection, we told Jim the news, secretly dreading
spending our annual shipping budget on one, albeit large, donation. Imagine
our surprise, then, when Jim offered to combine a planned trip out East with
delivering the artifacts to our door!
After sorting through and helping to identify all the items, Jim and Mary
parked their truck in the Museum's parking lot for the week, spent a day and a
half at the Museum, and enjoyed Thanksgiving with some Boston-area friends.
The Museum has gained ten new artifacts, a dozen new pieces of key, early
documentation, and some handsome spare parts for the Electronic Auction. We
want to thank Jim and Mary for their generosity (and for the cider).
Items donated to the Museum by James and Mary Payne on 21 November 1994.
Remington Rand Univac File II drum storage and drum controller (1958), core
storage (1959), Buffer Processor II, 2 spare Buffer Processor II memory units
Remington Rand Univac Model 3 90-column round-hole card punch (1955)
Remington Rand mechanical card verifier (British version) (c. 1948)
Sanders Associates core memory subsystem (c. 1968)
University of Illinois CSX-1 logic module (1962)
various core planes, magnetic tapes
documentation: Data General, International Business Machines, Remington Rand
THE HISTORICAL COLLECTION WANTED LIST
1970 Busicom programmable electronic calculator; Japanese device which spurred
development of the first microprocessor, the Intel 4004.
We are still looking for a Carterphone, the mid-1962 device that broke AT&T's
monopoly for supplying "data-phones."
WRITE TO US
_If this is the first_ collections newsletter you have received directly from
us, please send return email if you wish to be added to/confirmed on the
mailing list. If you've already responded once, there is no need to return
mail unless you have a question or want to stop the letter. Thanks again to
all of you who responded to the first newsletter.
The next newsletter will include information about more new acquisitions and
about efforts to build digitized database of the photograph collection.
Thank you for helping us preserve the history of computing,
Gwen and Brian
PS For those of you for whom these letters are an introduction to the Museum,
GENERAL INFORMATION ON THE COMPUTER MUSEUM
The Computer Museum is the only museum in the world devoted solely to people
and computers and their impact on one another. Located on Boston's waterfront,
the Museum has assembled the most extensive collection of historical computers
and robots in the world, with over 150 dynamic hands-on exhibits, the
award-winning Walk-Through Computer, two theaters, and a multimedia robot
An independent, non-profit institution with an international audience and
membership, The Computer Museum shows people of all ages and backgrounds how
computers have touched all aspects of modern life, from business, education,
and health to entertainment and art.
GENESIS OF THE MUSEUM
The Museum was started in 1974, when Ken Olsen, then-president of Digital
Equipment Corporation, and Robert Everett, then-president of MITRE
Corporation, rescued the MIT Whirlwind computer -- the world's first
real-time, parallel, vacuum-tube computer with a core memory -- from the
junkpile. This started Olsen and Digital on a mission to collect and save
important early computers.
PEOPLE AND COMPUTERS: Milestones of a Revolution: The Museum's single largest
exhibition traces the evolution of computing from a handful of costly
electronic giants in the 1940s to the millions of desktop computers and
microprocessors in use today. The centerpiece of each milestone is a life-size
re-creation of a computer environment typical of a major era. The exhibit
draws upon the Museum's collection of vintage computers, photographs,
documents, films and videotapes.
THE NETWORKED PLANET: Traveling the Information Highway: This $2 million
exhibit, opened in November as a microcosm of global networks, reveals the
inner workings of large scale network such as global banking systems,
telephone networks, and aircraft tracking systems. It also provides access to
the Internet and commercial on-line services.
ROBOTS & OTHER SMART MACHINES: This interactive gallery lets visitors explore
the intriguing fields of robotics and artificial intelligence. Visitors can
explore just how "smart" machines are and are not, while trying out the latest
applications in creativity, artificial life, games, problem solving and
TOOLS & TOYS: The Amazing Personal Computer: Multimedia, graphics, music,
simulations, games, and groupware are featured on nearly 40 interactive
THE WALK-THROUGH COMPUTER: The only one of its kind in the world, this $1.2
million exhibit addresses the fundamental question -- How do computers work?--
by inviting visitors to walk inside a two-story working model of a desktop
computer enlarged to 50 times normal size. A Software Theater explains how
software drives hardware.
The Museum is located at 300 Congress Street, Boston, MA 02210. For general
Museum information, email computer_info () tcm org with request in subject line
and send help instructions as the body of the message.
- An Occasional Letter on the Historical Collection at The Computer David Farber (Jan 03)