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
Wang LOCI-2 Electronic Calculator
- One of the first programmable electronic calculators, this instrument was announced in 1964 and sold from 1965. It was designed by An Wang (1920-1990) and his associates. Wang, a native of Shanghai, immigrated to the United States after World War II, studied computer science at Harvard University, and worked at the Harvard Computation Laboratory. He started his own business in 1951, producing magnetic core memories and other electronic equipment on order. The LOCI or “logarithmic calculating instrument” was the first product marketed by the company. Two versions of the machine were announced: the LOCI I, which was not programmable, and the LOCI II, which was.
- The desktop machine has nine digit keys arranged in an array, as well as a zero bar and a decimal point key. Depressing other keys changes the sign of the number, shifts the decimal point, shifts from the logarithmic to the work register, and shifts from the work to the logarithmic register. Further keys are for arithmetic operations, squares, square roots, inverse squares, inverse square roots, inverse logarithms, and clearance of various registers. To the right are controls for the decrement counter, the program counter, and the operation code. According to company advertising, the machine offers ten-digit precision in addition and subtraction and eight-digit precision in multiplication, division, exponentiation, root extraction, and logarithm computation. It has five storage registers of ten-digit capacity and a ten-digit display, plus a display for the sign of the answer. A cooling fan and a cord are at the back. The card reader attachment that plugs into the back holds program cards.
- A tag on the front of the machine reads: LOCI-2. A tag on the back reads: ELECTRONIC SYSTEMS AND DEVICES (/) LOCI II (/) MODEL NO. 2AB (/) SERIAL NO. 2734 (/) TEWKSBURY, MASS. U.S.A. A paper tag on the back of the machine indicates that it was serviced 4/28/68, 9/12/68, and 2/9/71.
- According to a 1964 flier, the machine was to sell for $4,750.00. Kenney says that the initial price was $6,500. Wang Laboratories would go on to sell the 300 series of calculators (from 1966) and the 700 series (from 1969), and to manufacture minicomputers and networked microcomputers.
- For related objects and documents, see 1980.0096.02 through 1980.0096.10.
- Compare 1980.0096.01 with the later 1983.0171.01 (a Wang Series 700 calculator), and the even later 2011.0022.01 (a Wang Series 600 calculator).
- There is an extensive discussion of the LOCI II at the website of the Old Calculator Museum. See:http://www.oldcalculatormuseum.com/wangloci.html
- Wang Laboratories, Inc., “LOCI-2 Open New Vistas to your Personal Computing . . .,” Tewksbury, Ma., 1964. This is 1980.0096.08. A similar leaflet describes the LOCI-1 and has museum number 1980.0096.07.
- Charles C. Kenney, Riding the Runaway Horse: The Rise and Decline of Wang Laboratories, Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1992.
- date made
- 1965 or later
- date received
- Wang Laboratories
- ID Number
- catalog number
- accession number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History
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