Smithsonian museums continue to be closed to support the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. Read a message from our director, and check our website and social media for updates.

Digital Equipment Rainbow 100 Computer

Digital Equipment Rainbow 100 Computer

Usage conditions apply
In the early 1980s, Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) was the second largest computer company in the United States, following IBM, and was the leading producer of minicomputers. DEC had missed the initial development of personal computers, but decided to enter the market with a 16 bit machine. In 1982, it introduced the DEC Rainbow 100, for a price of $2,500.
The Rainbow 100 had both a Z-80 and an Intel 8088 microprocessor that ran at 4 MHz. It had 64 KB or RAM and 24 KB of ROM and had two built in floppy drives that could accommodate 400 KB single-sided quad density disk. It had three operating systems: MS-DOS, CP/M-86, and CP/M. Users made a selection by a menu at boot time. The Rainbow could be used for word processing, spreadsheets, and games, although it had a monochrome screen. In addition to operating as a stand-alone computer, the Rainbow worked effectively as a VT-100 or VT-220 terminal emulator on larger machines, such as DEC's minicomputers. Although the Rainbow was a powerful and effective personal computer, it was not fully compatible with IBM systems, and eventually was overshadowed and undersold by IBM clones.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Date made
Digital Equipment Corporation
Physical Description
plastic (overall material)
metal (overall material)
overall: 66 cm x 32 cm x 45 cm; 26 in x 12 5/8 in x 17 11/16 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Steve Lubar
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Computers
Computers & Business Machines
Family & Social Life
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Nominate this object for photography.   

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.


Add a comment about this object