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. Computers range from the pioneering ENIAC to microcomputers like the Altair and the Apple I. 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. 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
- From this assemblage of metal, wires and glass tubes, the future of video games would be built.
- In 1966, while working for Sanders Associates Inc., engineer Ralph Baer began to look into new ways to use television, focusing specifically on interactive games. In 1967, he created the first of several video game test units. Called TVG#1 or TV Game Unit #1, this device, when used with an alignment generator, produced a dot on the television screen that could be manually controlled by the user. Now that he was able to interact with the television, Baer could design increasingly sophisticated interfaces and programs.
- TV Game Unit #1 was designed by Baer and built with the assistance of Bob Tremblay, a technician who worked with Baer at Saunders. Though transistors were available, Baer, who had received his bachelor’s in television engineering, choose to use the familiar and proven technology of vacuum tubes for this early test unit.
- Like all the Ralph Baer prototypes, TV Game Unit #1 was used as evidence in many patent infringement cases. It still bears many of the court exhibit labels left over from these trials, as may be seen from the photograph.
- Currently not on view
- Date made
- Baer, Ralph H.
- patent holder
- Baer, Ralph H.
- ID Number
- accession number
- catalog number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History