Computers & Business Machines
Imagine the loss, 100 years from now, if museums hadn't begun preserving the artifacts of the computer age. The last few decades offer proof positive of why museums must collect continuously—to document technological and social transformations already underway.
The Museum's collections contain mainframes, minicomputers, microcomputers, and handheld devices. A Cray2 supercomputer is part of the collections, along with one of the towers of IBM's Deep Blue, the computer that defeated reigning champion Garry Kasparov in a chess match in 1997. Other artifacts range from personal computers to ENIAC, the Altair, and the Osborne 1. Computer components and peripherals, games, software, manuals, and other documents are part of the collections. Some of the instruments of business include adding machines, calculators, typewriters, dictating machines, fax machines, cash registers, and photocopiers
"Computers & Business Machines - Overview" showing 1 items.
- Northstar developed from a computer store called "The Original Kentucky Fried Computer." It changed its name due to impending litigation by Kentucky Fried Chicken! The company's first product was a Floating Point Math Board for S-100 computers. They then developed an inexpensive floppy drive system. This led the way to the Horizon, one of the first computers with built in floppy drives.
- Announced in November 1977, the Horizon was sold in a wooden cabinet, as opposed to the more usual metal or plastic. The initial price was $1,899 assembled and $1,599 unassembled. The Horizon ran on a Z-80 microprocessor that ran at 4 MHz. It contained 16 KB of RAM, which could be expanded to 64 KB and 1 KB of ROM. The operating system was both CP/M and Northstar DOS. The machine was among the first to offer floppy drives, and customers could order one or two 90 KB 5 ¼" drives. Northstar was also one of the first machines to offer a hard disk drive. This was called an HD-18, and had 18 Megabytes on an 18" platter. The Northstar Horizon was suited for business, education, and software development applications.
- This particular machine was donated to the Smithsonian by Peter A. McWilliams, author of the popular book, The Personal Computer book, (1983) which became a runaway bestseller. This was his first computer.
- Currently not on view
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- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center