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
- During the 1880s the engineer Herman Hollerith devised a set of machines for compiling data from the U.S. Census. Hollerith's tabulating system included a punch for entering data about each person onto a blank card, a tabulator for reading the cards and summing up information, and a sorting box for sorting the cards for further analysis.
- This third part of the system, the sorter, is shown on the right in the photograph. It is an oak box with 26 vertical compartments arranged in two rows. Each compartment has a brass cover that is held in place by an electric catch connected to the tabulator. The sorter is connected by a cable to the tabulator. Once a card is read by the tabulator, a compartment opens in the sorter, indicating where the card should be placed for further counting. The front and back sides of the sorter open so that one may remove stacks of cards from the compartments.
- Currently not on view
- date made
- Tabulating Machine Company
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- accession number
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- Data Source
- National Museum of American History