First Automatic telephone exchange argent – McTighe and Connelly Brothers automatic telephone exchange. Copper second place medal received by the group at the first electrical exposition in Paris has all three of the participants names misspelled. Based on a 1879 patent the group is credited with the first automatic network device. Eight stations were set up to dial each other without intervention of a central switchboard. McTighe the inventor of the switch also was a lawyer at the firm.
Klienschmidt Teletype. Edward Klienschmidt Elecrtic Co. in 1914 improved on the teletype with a duplex transmitter allowing multiple messages to be transmitted over the same wire.
Comptometer – Felt and Tarrant revised their mechanical adding machine shortly after the sinking of the Titanic to include a fail safe lock that would not allow the machine to accept a bad input. A two tone wood version was produced in the late 19th century that is one of the few to achieve mega collectable status.
UNIVAC 1105 – Four made and the first large computer in North Carolina. This is the “check tube” CRT unit and panel controls serial number 3. Also a large aluminum card cage containing 40 flip-flop cards dated 1958-61 and several tubes. As soon as the transistor became perfected in 1958 both Sperry Rand and IBM built new versions of their tube machines. Problem was they got bigger not smaller on a strange trajectory to mainframe extinction. Notice the tangled web of white wires that helps identify most 50’s mainframes.
Friden 132 – 1963 calculator used the first CRT priced under $2K. Our example has an interesting analog dial that moves the decimal place across a matrix of initial zeros. Vintage ad features the inventor of the transistor Bill Shockley talking about his class at Stanford. A fatally flawed Stanford grad was infamous for having 8 of his engineers leave to found other companies. Known as the traitorous eight they helped found silicon valley with the help of investor Sherman Fairchild.
Viatron System 21 – Dissected remains of Dr. An Wang’s personal Viatron System 21 circa 1969. Available in two models this appears to be a higher model 2150 with printing robot. After the spectacular failure of Viatron 21 no fewer than three companies came out with model 2200’s including Wang, Datapoint and California Computer.
The first product shipped in 1969 from Computer Terminal Corp. founded by ex-NASA engineers. “Glass Teletype” uses shift register memory and TTL logic for control of characters on one of the first “green screens”. Ours was sold and serviced by Ken Vardon, an ex-Navy radioman turned million dollar CEO who could do 30 words per minute of morse code.
Datapoint 2200 logic collection. An early example has the first 3101 Intel memory chips made before the two companies took a hiatus in their relationship over the summer of 1970. Also an interesting breadboard prototype computer attributed to 8008 logic designer Victor Poor. The company is credited with some of the worst business decisions in tech history including giving up the rights to the 8008 CPU..
The first motherboard had to be assembled in up to four sections and input was through toggle switches. Builders battled control of computer tech away from big data that had a lock for thirty years. The first home computer and also one of the best. IMSAI was the first clone of it although a bigger and heavier beast.
Like Datapoint the company was based in San Antonio, Texas and was also incorporated in 1967. They made electronic kits eventually having enough product to fill a 30-page catalog. The Motorola 6800 design dates to the mid-60’s when chip designer Tom Bennet integrated one of the first MOS ICs into the Victor 3900. Bennet and Intel’s Ted Hoff met in May 1969 to discuss the 4004 CPU.
IBM 5100 portable
IBM response to small computers was a swing and a miss as the unit cost nearly $20K for the 64K RAM version. $10K was for the cost of additional memory over 16K. These are some of rarest as big blue leased most of them. Ours has a “Property of IBM” tag but somehow escaped recycling. Uses a PALM 16-bit CPU card implemented in SLT logic microcode.
Clone of the Altair did some things right but failed to capture the heart of the microcomputer revolution.
Astrology computer used by Regan. Notice Washington D.C. address on one of three we have in the collection. All are based on the inexpensive Synertek 6502 CPU also used in the Apple II.
Apple 1 and II
This Rev 0 board was sold as a kit by Apple in 1977. The former owner actually bought it at the Byte Shop before he purchased their last demo Apple 1. He offered me his Apple 1 at then a bargain price of $20K and a free personal on-site setup from OR.
While still making Cambridge calculators Sr. Clive knew the low margins of his current business called for a new product in the form of the ZX80. Recent auction of Sinclair mockups showed a ZX90.
Zilog Z8000 (Hardware dead end) based business computer running UNIX V7 on a semi-transparent, 10MB, 8″ Winchester drive! SUN’s Scott McNealy got his start working for Onyx out of Harvard. Founder Doug Broyles was also a founder of Zilog.
Another company running from the calculator business purchased their own semiconductor maker in Mostek. William Shatner – why buy Atari when you can have games and The Computer of the 80’s?
Founded by a group of ex-Atari engineers the Mindset used an Intel 80186 CPU and advanced graphics modes for the time. Our unit has an expansion unit that accepts solid state ROM options.
Initially introduced along with the System/23 the PC standard was set. The company quickly lost control of the standard setting VGA as the last video standard in 1987. Here are some interesting trade show shots of the PC with booths designed by Bob Rubin,
Pixar Image Computer
Second generation Image Computer from a project with deep roots in graphical computing. This example was used in medical imaging assembling multiple CAT images into 3D. Originally formed by George Lucas largely from members of a Long Island, New York study group that was started in a carriage house. Unique evolution of an Animation Studio from one of its most notable tools called Pixar is studied in a PhD Thesis by Richard John McCollugh, “Branding, Reputation, and the Critical Reception of Pixar Animation Studios”.
The shakeout of home computer manufactures included Texas Instruments that started the price war in calculators some 10 years earlier. A fatal mistake had them showing up at 1983 Comdex Winter show with a computer less powerful than their 1979 version. Only a few 99/8’s were rescued when most of the inventory was destroyed after the company lost $300 million in one quarter.
Over-clocked Mac IIfx by a company called 68000. They would buy IIfx computers from Apple, over-clocking the 68030 CPU to 50mhz. For the desktop publishing market in a custom tower case. Originally cost $30K, 68K sold 80 units before Apple filled the gap in the 1992 product line-up with their own 68040 powered, Quadra Tower.
1984 production model made in famous Freemont factory.
Originally called ZX83 the number can still be found on some PCBs. Linus Torvalds learned programming on this inexpensive but powerful Motorola 68008 based computer. Rare American version
The home computer shakeout also claimed the Apple Lisa. Lisa was a deeply flawed machine. Developed in the form factor of a Datapoint the display was originally designed for text not graphics.
Rockwell AIM 65
An expanded version on the KIM-1 from Rockwell. This late-70’s hobby computer mostly shipped without a case. This one is built inside an old Panasonic turntable.
Morrow Decision and Portable
A member of the original home brew computer club George Morrow produced a number of interesting computer products.
Osborne Vixen was a classic example of how not to move inventory of early computers. After building up a substantial inventory of Osbornes in the warehouse, Osborne told everyone to wait for a computer that was in limited early production killing demand for exisitng inventory. Adam also wrote books on computer science and one called Hypergrowth – the quick rise and fall of his own company. Also a Homebrew member and writer of Intel 4004 documentation.
An expensive magnesium portable pioneered the clamshell form factor. We have several including one former 1137 Regan presidential football with bubble memory wiped. Notice the lack of ROM access on military models.
An early Next Cube from 1988. The Next cube was the basis for the first WWW server designed by Tim Berners Lee in 1991.
Seymour Cray got his start like many early tech luminaries as a radio operator. Cray helped make the first Control Data supercomputer that was the fastest in the world for three years. His supercomputers all with trademark blue wires continued to increase in cost including his last one. The Cray 4 lost $300 million for investors in Cray Computer bankruptcy never having sold a single unit. This is a test logic module (one module per CPU) from the incomplete computer supposedly capable of 1Ghz operation.
We have unlucky Bebox prototype number 13 for an OS that was supposed to replace Mac OS 9. Former head of Apple France, Jean-Louise Gassee lost out to Steve Jobs in a bid to sell their respective companies to Apple. Gassee had been bitter about the loss suggesting Apple’s logo secretly represents the original sin from the Garden of Eden. To this day he maintains a weekly tech blog that is critical of Apple.
Bondi Blue, Rev A is known as the computer that saved Apple in 1998. A later version shipped with OS X 10.2 as default OS.
Like Steve Jobs was, I am a sucker for a good Qube. The collection ends as the decade of the 90’s closes with this 2700 model Qube. 27 is the atomic number of Cobalt. It is a cheap net appliance that works well as a Linux web server. Used ones can go for $10 but this is the next $1K collectible in 25 years.