3700 DNA Analyzer

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Description (Brief)
This object is a DNA analyzer used by the Celera Corporation in its effort to be the first to sequence the human genome. A genome consists of all the genetic material or DNA that make up an organism’s hereditary information. The Human Genome Project began in 1985 as a federally funded public research project to determine the sequence of the nucleotide bases (the A's, G's, C’s and T’s whose order leads to differences in DNA) in the human genome. In 1998, J. Craig Venter, a former NIH researcher, started his own for-profit company, Celera Corporation, with the goal of sequencing the genome more quickly than the publically funded Human Genome Project. The creation of Celera effectively turned the sequencing of the human genome into a race between public and private industry.
This machine, the ABI 3700 DNA analyzer, was the first production-scale DNA analyzer and it became the workhorse of both public and private efforts. It uses an automated, high-throughput capillary electrophoresis system to analyze DNA samples that have been tagged with fluorescent dyes. The machine, with the help of an attached computer, can convert the information from the DNA’s fluorescence into electronic information about the sequence of the nucleotide bases in the sample. In doing so, it sequences the sample—giving the exact order of bases in the DNA.
At Celera, 300 of these machines, including this object, ran unattended all day and all night, was capable of sequencing 900,000 base pairs of DNA in the course of 24 hours. A white paper sign with the number 9 printed on it in black is taped to one side of the analyzer. That probably means this machine was #9 out of the 300 at Celera.
Currently not on view
date made
Applied Biosystems
Physical Description
steel (overall material)
plastic (overall material)
overall: 53 in x 30 in x 29 1/2 in; 134.62 cm x 76.2 cm x 74.93 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Applied Biosystems, Genetic Analysis Division (through Deborah A. Smeltzer)
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Biological Sciences
Science & Mathematics
Biotechnology and Genetics
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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