Facts and stories about
Antique (lonesome) Computers
Visiting again? Updates
- a link to "Out of a Closet: The Early Years of The Computer * Museum" by Gordon Bell, founder of the Boston Computer Museum, and trustee of the Computer History Museum (Mountain View, CA), local copy
Items specific to Computer History Museum - CHM in Mountain View, Ca. as of 2000
It was then located in the grounds of the Ames Research Center
Moved since to 1401 Shoreline Rd, and greatly enlarged and enhanced.
- A Comprehensive Guide to "Visible Storage", the display at the Computer History Museum from about 1995 to 2003
- A tour of Computer History Museum Warehouse with Paul Pierce's donations of IBM 650, IBM 709, IBM 7094
- On-Line Video of Past CHM Events via YouTube
- Volunteer Information Exchange Cumulative Index, you may have to cut and paste the URLs
- Proposed equipment labels
- Example Tours of Visible Storage.
The area is called "Visible Storage" because it is not a museum ( insufficient labels, ... ).
- Professor Ron Mak's CHM Tour Quizes
- Some Really Old electric/electronic computing machines
- Gordon Bell hosts and provides continuity
presentations by Computer Pioneers: Part 1 (1935 - 1945)
- George Stibitz - BTL Mark 1,
- Konrad Zuse - Z-1 Z-2 Z-3,
- John Atanosoff - ABC,
- Grace Hopper - talks of Howard Aiken's Harvard Mark 1,
- Herb Gross - talks of the IBM SSEC
Pioneer Computers Part 2 (1943 - 1953)
- Presper Eckert - ENIAC
- Arthur Burks narrates clippings of newscasts of ENIAC
- John Mauchly - discusses ENIAC & EDVAC
- the Maurice Wilkes movie of EDSAC programming/operation
- a film of the English machine LEO "First Automatic Office" Lyons Tea Shops
- IAS -Institute for Advanced Study - architecture, many similar
- Eckert-Mauchly Computer Company - BINAC then UNIVAC
- UNIVAC 1103 and IBM 701
- First Electronic Computer - er - Calculating Machine
The Atanosoff-Berry Computer, of Iowa State College ( now University )
- And Konrad Zuse
- First Stored Program Computer
- Manchester Baby celebrates 60th anniversary of the stored program computer - 21 JUN 2008: from John C Green Jr.
- The Small Scale Experimental Machine, with Architecture, Instruction Set, Links, Programs, An online simulation
- Demonstrations of the 'Manchester Baby' ;-)) Digital 60 Manchester, 60 Years of the Modern Computer
- sone techie details :-))
- Obit for Maurice Wilkes, Nov 30, 2010, last of breed? - via Gordon Bell
- Tourist hint: Jodrell Bank Observatory is about 20 miles south of Manchester, on the same train line from London and Bletchley Park ;-))
- Work begins on hardware to aid Edsac replica recreation
- Museum switches on historic computer - 26 November 2014
- World's Oldest Intact Working Computer
- The Witch - at the [British] "National Museum of Computing" - from John Pokoski, Nov 21, 2012
- The Witch [different URL with much more info] was based on Dekatron counting tubes. When I was in England around 1958 I made a clock that was based on the 50 Hz power. It was based on Dekatron counting tubes. I did not know of it [Witch] when I made the clock. (My clock is in [my home at] Clarkston, Utah.) - from LaFarr Stuart. Nov 22, 2012
- Re-booting the Witch, on YouTube
- General Items
- 1833: First Semiconductor Effect is Recorded - first of a great semiconductor, transistor, integrated circuit, historical series through 1979 from CHM
Mid 1950s transistors, several dollars each, and not all that swift. The then current circuit card technology - If your cell phone was built this way, it would be way too slow, and fill your house, and more. The glass things are diodes.
- List of Documents, Links & Videos, (many unique to this web site)
- beginning a Links to Antique Computer People - the old foggies that is -
- Emulation/simulation of one type of computer using another type of computer
- Time Lines and Trees
- Stories about Computer People and Machines.
- Movies-n-Sounds of Antique Computers.
- Images of IBM Product Announcements starting about 1966
- Archival Concerns
- Character Set Documents
- Trip Report to old computers at Deutches Museum.
- A list of minicomputers attributed to Gordon Bell
- This history business is too serious, time for A Little Fun
- Raised Floor or Non-Raised Floor - 1.6 MB .pdf - added Oct 2013
- Living with Vacuum Tube Computers
- vacuum tube testers - off-site -
- IBM cards used round holes until the early 1930s, then rectangular holes off site, click "back" to return here
- IBM vs Seven Dwarfs, Why did IBM win?
- Mac-vs-PC, Why did the PC win a log of e-mails
- Antique computers in the Movies and TV sent by Frank King - May 2009
- Modern computers use Integrated Circuits (ICs). Who really invented the IC? (Noyce) by Hans Camenzind, inventer of the 555 :-)
- Minicomputer History Article for the IEEE by Gordon Bell, who regrets that word count limits caused John Leng, OS-8 and RT-11 to be omitted.
- Tour of Endicott History and Heritage Center
- "Let's Not Dumb Down the History of Computer Science" - Professor Emeritus Donald Knuth, Stanford University - May 2014
- Doug Engelbart's Original Mouse - July 26, 2014
Demonstrations of the 'Manchester Baby' ;-)) received Nov 6, 2009
Yes, We do have the 'Baby' computer, the first stored program computer in the world. It is usually demonstrated on Tuesdays by volunteers, including some of the guys who worked on the original 'Baby' project.
Unfortunately, next Tuesday will be the last time the 'Baby' is demonstrated for several months, and it won't be on display for a few months from the end of next week either, due to a major refurbishment project at MOSI.
From approximately next April it will be housed in much nicer surroundings as part of our up-coming 'Revolution Manchester' gallery.
Tel : 0161 606 0127
Museum of Science and Industry
Liverpool Road, Castlefield
Manchester, M3 4FP
Most of the images on this web site: a) were photographed by me (Ed Thelen) b) of property (computers) owned by Computer History Museum.
I am advised by the Museum (July 20, 2006) that
Judy Strebel is the media archivist at the Museum and in general, handles requests for image usage. firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Don't throw nuthun away!!" -
- An all too "typical" tale
In one of my bouts with college, the newspaper mentioned there was a series of classes, for school teachers, to be held in the St. Paul (Minnesota) Library about computers. A "design engineer" would be presenting the ERA/RemingtonRand 1103A.
Typically, I showed up with out registering, me - a school teacher??, collected a notebook of blue prints of overviews and details - dropping the course when the next meeting was going to be trying your program on the machine - and you had to be registered to do that -
I kept that notebook until about 1980 when kids were leaving home and we were down sizing.
- If I had known anyone would eventually be interested, or a suitable repository available, such as the later Computer History Museum, I would have kept that "Holy Relic" ;-)) .
Mike Milgram just reminded me that many (computer) manuals can already be found on repositories such as bitsavers.org which has accessable PDF files for most manufacturers at http://www.bitsavers.org/pdf/. Look there to see if your manual(s) are present there.
- If present, well, the world has black and white access to them. Potentially you have different dates ...
- If not present, read Al Kossow's recommendations and requests on his website.
- And a "typical" e-mail exchange
From: L Roth
To: IBM 604
Sent: Sunday, February 07, 2010
Subject: hello, 604 units
Hello Ed, Very interseting site on the IBM 604. I graduated from an electronics school in Mpls in 1960. Our instruction back than on computers consisted of flip-flop circuits to learn basics. An interesting project was the Overbeck ring and an "electronic roulette wheel" using the 2-xxxx triggers - flip-flops. After I graduated from tech school I ended up in Seattle,WA. What luck, a local scrap yard had an old IBM 604 for sale. My roommate and I rented a trailer and hauled the cpu home and scrapped it out. Really big filament transformers for all those tubes.. I managed to save 1 of the racks full of flip-flops, and's or's etc. The rack still is in my storage shed.... My point... do you have any of the old modules ? Want a couple for your desk, or wall. When I pass I'm sure the kids will get a large dumpster...... I live in Seymour Cray's home town and they have a great Cray museum here. Perhaps this would also be a good home, I donnated a couple of the modules to them already, people there really didn't know what the solid state modules in todays world replaced.. Thanks again Ed... L Roth Chippewa Falls, WI
and a response from Robert Garner
Thanks for your informative note to Ed.
Turns out that an older colleague of mine (Hans Coufal) at IBM Almaden Research (who's no longer with us), had reportedly collected much of a 604, apparently still in storage somewhere in L.A. Your collection of spare modules could come in handy some day if these 604 components gets donated to the say the Computer History Museum and some volunteers elect to restore it. (There are crazy folks around thinking of restoring a tube machine some day...). So don't throw anything away! There is reportedly a working IBM 604 at the "House of the History of IBM Data Processing" in Sindelfingen, Germany.)
p.s. Did you see our 1401 restoration project at the CHM?: http://ibm-1401.info/index.html
p.p.s. I am looking for 700-series style tube socket...
"Let's Not Dumb Down the History of Computer Science" - Professor Emeritus Donald Knuth, Stanford University - May 2014
Stanford has made this May 7, 2014 lecture by Professor Donald Knuth available on-line
"Let's Not Dumb Down the History of Computer Science" - Professor Emeritus Donald Knuth, Stanford University
Stanford | ENGINEERING
The 2014 Kailath Lecture
Let's Not Dumb Down the History of Computer Science For many years the history of computer science was presented in a way that was useful to computer scientists. But nowadays almost all technical content is excised; historians are concentrating rather on issues like how computer scientists have been able to get funding for their projects, and/or how much their work has influenced Wall Street. We no longer are told what ideas were actually discovered, nor how they were discovered, nor why they are great ideas. We get only a scorecard.
Similar trends are occurring with respect to other sciences. Historians generally now prefer "external history" to "internal history," so that they can write stories that appeal to readers with almost no expertise.
Historians of mathematics have thankfully been resisting such temptations. In this talk the speaker will explain why he is so grateful for the continued excellence of papers on mathematical history, and he will make a plea for historians of computer science to get back on track.
"In this talk, Professor Donald Knuth explains why he is grateful for the continued excellence of papers on mathematical history, and he makes a plea for historians of computer science to get back on track."
Paul McJones writes:
By the way, much of the source code that Knuth mentions in his last slide is available online at the Computer History Museum:
- Dijkstra’s T.H.E. operating system for the Electrologica X8, the innovative compilers developed at Burroughs (Balgol 220 and others), Computer Sciences Corporation (LARC Scientific Compiler) and Digitek (FORTRAN Compiler for the Daystrom 636; also class notes by Robert W. Floyd on the data structures used for Digitek’s FORTRAN IV compiler for the SDS 910-920-930-940) are all part of the Knuth Digital Archive project — listings and papers belonging to Don Knuth and scanned by Randall Neff:
- As Knuth mentions, Bill Atkinson’s MacPaint and QuickDraw source code are available at CHM:MacPaint and QuickDraw Source Code Len Shustek http://www.computerhistory.org/atchm/macpaint-and-quickdraw-source-code/ MacPaint oral history with Bill Atkinson and Andy Hertzfeld Grady Booch, interviewer http://www.computerhistory.org/collections/catalog/102658007
- ... CHM also has the source code to IBM’s System R database management system. It’s not online, because of a restrictive license imposed by IBM. It is CHM Lot # X4095.2007, which consists of System R source code, manuals, and a set of videos of System R developers doing code walk-throughs in December 1979. If someone at IBM could renegotiate a more flexible license (such as Xerox PARC did for the Alto source code), that would be wonderful.
Doug Engelbart's Original Mouse - July 26, 2014
- Alan Kay says name should be "the Engelbart-English mouse"
- Wife Karen has it - for the moment
- Hurry if Computer History Museum wants it
- Images of Doug's original mouse from Bob
- LaFarr Stuart's visit to SRI
- The Mother of All Demos (YouTube), mostly software but shows 3 button mouse at 5:50 & 31:05
Alan Kay says name should be "the Engelbart-English mouse"
e-mail from Alan Kay - Oct 16, 2016
Technically, it should be called the Engelbart-English mouse (Bill English was the co-inventor and both of their names are on the patent).
The "single-hero" theory is a pet peeve of mine, especially in engineering where something has to be successfully built and tested to validate the ideas. This almost always requires a team of some size that can synergize different talents to manifest a vision into reality.
I actually tried to get the ACM to do an award for the "complementary particle", and wanted to name it after Bill English. For example, my "complementary particle" was Dan Ingalls, and he should have gotten a major award for what he brought to the process.
In a sense, both of them did: by winning separate "ACM Software Systems Award"s. I like this award better than the Turing because it is very often awarded to a group who collaborated to make something. Still, I think the ACM process leaves a lot to be desired.
Wife Karen has it - for the moment
Douglas C. Engelbart is credited with inventing and popularizing the computer mouse while working for the Stanford Research Institute (SRI). He was involved with a host of other graphical user interface, interactive, computer to computer links, and other activities. He died July 2, 2013.
Apparently SRI permited his widow, Karen Engelbart, to retain some of Doug's interesting artifacts for 1 year.
On June 30, 2014 I received an urgent call from Bob Wallace who had just visited Karen Engelbart. I hastily provided the following information to the Computer History Museum.
Hurry if Computer History Museum wants it
An old hiking friend, Bob Wallace, provided this info -
Doug Engelbart and Bob Wallace were in the same dance club long ago when both were single - Karen Engelbart, Doug's widow, is supposed to turn "Doug's original mouse" to SRI on or before July 2 (SRI has a legal claim on it) Karen is friendly towards SRI, that is no problem but SRI is rumored to be donating the mouse to the Smithsonian - Potentially CHM might wish to short circuit that donation "redirecting" it to CHM. Karen is currently selling her house in Atherton, last known phone # ...-...-.... (the answering machine comes up with Doug's voice ;-)) -Ed Thelen Evidently something worked :-))
Images of Doug's original mouse from Bob
who had photographed it in Doug and Karen's home.
Bob w mouse
Bob is well into his 90s, and no longer scrambling up peaks :-((
Well - OK - neither am I :-((
LaFarr Stuart's visit to SRI
LaFarr was hired into Control Data Corp (CDC) (Sunnyvale CA operation) to aid with its documentation effort (Fortran and other manuals).
In the fall of 1969 a demo of Doug Engelbart's mouse and editing was offered by Stanford Research Institute (old name) (SRI). LaFarr went to SRI in Menlo Park, CA (about 10 miles away) to see the latest.
LaFarr remembers a CRT in a 19 inch rack, a one button mouse constructed from 3/8 plywood with sharp corners, and a mouse controlled movable marker (cursor) on the CRT. The mouse seemed narrower than the one shown above. It was not very impressive and seemed a very remote solution to the then current Control Data editing proplems.
LaFarr's bias was towards leaving the hands free for the keyboard - a chair with "load cells" was discussed so that shifting one's weight about would move the cursor - with maybe one or several special keys for buttons.
There were internal CDC discussions about using a CDC 1700 (basicly a 16 bit mini) to support the mouse and provide the required 7 or 8 bit characters to support upper & lower case alphas, numerics, punctuation, and special characters. Nothing came of those discussions. CDC continued paying for 2741 terminals, telephone lines, and ASCII editing support ( and APL/360 ) from Propriety Computer Systems in Los Angeles.
Professor Ron Mak's CHM Tour Quizes
Here it is for next Saturday’s visit by my students. It’s hard to word the questions so that students can’t simply Google for the answers. For example, if you Google “Steven Spielberg’s father”, “first spam message”, or “Tiger Electronics”, you’ll get the answer without a museum visit. I hope the other questions are harder.
Anyway, it should be a fun treasure hunt for most throughout Revolution. Improve your midterm score! How many can you get right?
A collection of all seven quizes .pdf file
contains: Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2014 EFREI, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016
Character Set Documents
Here is some documentation about computer character sets
- Survey Coded Character Representation by Bob Bemer - CACM_Dec1960
- Survey Punched Card Codes Smith & Williams - CACM_Dec1960
- Design Improved Transmission/DataProcessing Code Bemer Smith Williams - CACM_May1961
- April Fools Letter To Editor F. A. Williams - CACM_May1961
- COPE (Console Operator Proficiency Exam) Farbman & Ketover - CACM_Dec1960
Return to top
Updated September 20, 2017
If you have comments or suggestions, Send e-mail to Ed Thelen. Some flattering pictures of Ed,
Gleanings, conversion of documents to digital format (digital library)
Private stash - PowerMac, Disk Storage