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
- By the late 19th century, many American workers were paid in cash. Putting together packets with precisely the right bills and coins was a tedious task. In the 1890s, Edward J. Brandt, a cashier at the Bank of Watertown in Watertown, Wisconsin, invented a machine that could dispense change automatically.
- The machine dispenses change in amounts between 1 cent and 99 cents. It has eight channels across the front, three for pennies, one for nickels, two for dimes, one for quarters and one for 50-cent pieces. Above and behind the channels is an array of 99 plastic keys, numbered from 1 to 99. Pressing another key, marked "5," releases five pennies. On the right are keys marked 10, 25, 25 and 100 that give change for these amounts. The entire coin holder can be removed from the mechanism for storage of coins. Pushing down a key moves a bar that pushes coins from a channel into a compartment with a trap door at its base. Pushing the trap door back releases change into the hand.
- A mark on the front and the back of the machine reads reads: BRANDT AUTOMATIC CASHIER. A mark on a brass plate on the back of the machine reads: PATENTED (/) JULY 11, 1899. . . (/) DEC. 12, 1916 (/) 48184 93421 10014 PATENTS PENDING (/) T.M.Reg.U.S.Pat.Off. (/) Brandt Manufacturing Company (/) WATERTOWN, WISCONSIN. The serial number, marked on the right side at the front, is 22446.
- Brandt’s machine received medals at the 1900 Universal Exposition in Paris and the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. This example dates from the 1920s.
- James H. McCarthy, The American Digest of Business Machines, Chicago, 1924, p. 196–197.
- Charles J. Wallman, Edward J. Brandt, Inventor, Watertown, WI: Brandt, Inc., 1984.
- Accession file.
- Currently not on view
- date made
- ca 1925
- Brandt Manufacturing Company
- ID Number
- accession number
- catalog number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History