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
- In 1983 Convergent Technologies, Inc., introduced this light weight portable personal computer. Advertised as “an information processing tool designed to meet business needs,” it sold with an integrated set of three business applications – memo pad, phone list, and calendar. At least eight other proprietary software worksheets were available.
- Power sources included AC power, or a NiCad battery pack, or four AA batteries. Two “button” type batteries (Union Carbide #186, made in USA) maintained the contents of the memory for about 7 days without other power sources connected. To conserve power, the WorkSlate automatically shut off after five minutes of non-use.
- The computer display screen is a liquid crystal display (LCD), approximately 6”w x 3”h. It displayed forty-six characters across and fourteen rows down.
- The sixty keys of the keyboard were color coded to indicate their purpose. Yellow represented principal operations such as backspace, cancel, on/off, and Do It. (The Do It key performs execute/enter functions). White identified the letters, numbers, and main punctuation marks. Keys marked in green were used in conjunction with the green “Special” key to access extended operations and characters.
- The microcassette player/recorder used 1½” h x 2½ w tape cassettes to load software worksheets, store data, and record phone messages.
- The computer included communication connections. Connected to a phone with standard RJ11 cable, it could be used as a speaker phone. Using the phone list application, it could auto-dial numbers. Using a microcassette, it could function as an answering machine. The Comm Port, when linked to the WorkSlate, provided the means to connect with other WorkSlate devices to send or receive worksheets, with printers, or link to a modem to access an electronic information service. According to the reference guide, by subscribing to an electronic information service, you could “receive data on almost any subject imaginable”.
- The objects in accession 2016.0253 and non-accession 2016.3134 are related.
- date made
- Convergent Technologies, Inc.
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- accession number
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- Data Source
- National Museum of American History