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Polynucleotide Synthesizer Model 280, Solid Phase MicroprocessorController Model 100B

Polynucleotide Synthesizer Model 280, Solid Phase Microprocessor/Controller Model 100B

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Description (Brief)
In the late 1970s the growing field of genetics created a demand for made-to-order short-chain DNA molecules, known as polynucleotides. These designer stretches of DNA were important laboratory tools. Scientists used them both as probes to find specific DNA sequences in a larger genome and as the building blocks of custom genes for genetic engineering. Building polynucleotides by hand in the lab, however, was expensive, time consuming, and boring work.
In December 1980 Vega Biotechnologies introduced the first polynucleotide synthesizer or “gene machine,” which automated production of short DNA chains. The machine lowered the time needed to make a fifteen-base strand of DNA from several months to about a day, greatly reducing the price of customized DNA for research and industry. The instrument consisted of two parts: a chemistry unit and a computer unit. The chemistry unit assembled DNA using solid-phase chemistry techniques. The computer unit controlled the reaction and could be programmed with the desired DNA sequence for synthesis.
Joseph A. Menosky, “Cheap, Fast Designer Genes,” The Washington Post, September 6, 1981, C1.
Untitled Essay by Leon E. Barstow, President of Vega Biotechnologies, from Accession File.
Accession File 1984.0719, National Museum of American History.
Currently not on view
Object Name
solid phase microprocessor/controller (100B), polynucleotide synthesizer
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Science & Scientific Instruments
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Medicine
Science & Mathematics
Biotechnology and Genetics
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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