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 United States 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. The tabulator is shown at the center in the photograph.
- Hollerith's tabulating system won a gold medal at the 1889 World's Fair in Paris, and was used successfully the next year to count the results of the 1890 Census. His inventions formed the starting point of a company that would become IBM.
- Currently not on view
- Hollerith, Herman
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- National Museum of American History