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The Exhibit Hall


Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-7
Introduced in 1964
18-bit word size, magnetic core memory, capacity of 4K to 32K words
3.5 microsecond instruction cycle, 285 KIPS
There were only 120 PDP-7 computers built, and only four survive today. This machine, installed at the University of Oregon in 1966, is the only one in the world that is in functioning condition. It served the university's nuclear physics department for decades, and over 30 students earned Ph.D. degrees through research performed with this computer.

The PDP-7 as a model holds an important place in history: the UNIX operating system was created to run on this machine. UNIX was a precursor to the idea of software as a product in its own right.

Another operating system created on the PDP-7, MUMPS, was a platform for advancement in the medical records field. It still exists today as a commercial product.
Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-8/e
Introduced in 1970
12-bit word size, magnetic core memory, capacity of 4K to 32K words
2.6 microsecond instruction cycle, 385 KIPS
The PDP-8 became the computing world's version of the original Volkswagen Beetle, the "People's Car." The original version, built in 1965, provided an inexpensive and simple tool for factories and laboratories. Advances in electronics throughout the 1960s allowed DEC to build this compact and accessible version that went on to sell tens of thousands of units, and forever change how people thought about computers.

In the era of the miniskirt and the Mini Cooper, this machine came to be called a "mini-computer," a name that was retroactively applied to (relatively) small, inexpensive and easily used computers.
Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-11/70
Introduced in 1975
16-bit word size, magnetic core (later semiconductor) memory, capacity of 32K to 2M words
980 nanosecond instruction cycle, 2.5 MIPS
The PDP-11 line of minicomputers was sold in small, medium and large models, and the PDP-11/70 exemplified "large." Its features established it as DEC's flagship computer for science, engineering and industry. It was provisioned with magnetic core memory when it was first introduced, but the industry began to produce semiconductor memory that provided both more memory per volume and greater speed in the late 1970s. This machine employs the Data Design Systems PEP-70 memory system, which provides 2M words of memory within the CPU cabinet, rather than in multiple add-on racks.

Although the PDP-11/70 was supplanted by the PDP-11/44, and then by microprocessor-based PDP-11s, it is still revered by industry veterans and collectors as "the Big One" among minicomputers.
Data General Nova
Introduced in 1969
16-bit word size, magnetic core memory, capacity of 4K to 32K words
3.6 microsecond instruction cycle, 160 KIPS
Edson DeCastro wanted to build DEC's next minicomputer, but his design was passed over for what would become the PDP-11. He responded by leaving DEC and starting his own company, Data General, which presented itself in ads as a spunky rebel in the industry. The Nova beat DEC to market for 16-bit minicomputers, a trend following IBM's adoption of word length in multiples of an eight-bit byte.
IBM 360 Model 91
(Console panel only)
Introduced in 1967
32-bit word size, magnetic core memory, capacity of 2 to 6 megabytes
60 nanosecond instruction cycle, 16.7 MIPS
This console is the sole remaining part of a massive machine that ran at Princeton University, one of eleven Model 91 computers sold (only 16 were built). System/360 was the answer to a problem of IBM's own creation: because they had such diverse lines of business machines and scientific machines, customers were not sure which one to buy. System/360 attempted to address "the full circle" of customer needs. It was a bet-the-farm initiative headed by Fred Brooks, a young engineer who had never led a major engineering project. Upon its introduction, it quickly became the greatest success of any computer engineering project.
Digital Equipment Corporation PDP-12
Introduced in 1969
12-bit word size, magnetic core memory, capacity of 4K to 32K words
3 microsecond instruction cycle, 300 KIPS
The PDP-12 demonstrates DEC's commitment to its core market, science and engineering. It was built to bring together two threads of history: the LINC computer, built at MIT Lincoln Laboratories, and the PDP-8. It runs programs for either computer and provides an experimenter with a rich set of interfaces to the laboratory environment.

The DIAL operating environment makes use of the large vector graphics screen to present results, and the computer will also run the popular OS/8 operating system with its broad set of tools.
Interdata 7/32
Introduced in 1974
32-bit word size, magnetic core memory, capacity of 8K to 256K words
3.5 microsecond instruction cycle, 280 KIPS
Interdata's computers were a cost-effective line of machines, priced less than DEC's similar computers. But in 1974, the 7/32 challenged the DEC 16-bit computers with a 32-bit computer, for a lower price.

The Interdata 7/32's place in history is secured by its adoption as the first non-DEC computer to run the UNIX operating system. UNIX was one of the first examples of system software written by someone independent of a particular computer's manufacturer. Its "port" to the Interdata validated the idea of platform-independent software – the core of a business model of selling software as a standalone product.
Xerox Alto
Introduced in 1973
16-bit word size, semiconductor memory, capacity 64 to 256 kilobytes
170 nanosecond instruction cycle, variable number of instructions per second
The Alto was not only an experiment in how to build a computer, but in how people might use a computer. These ideas interacted to produce a machine that was as flexible as possible, with almost all of its functions built in software, so there were few limits on how researchers could express ideas.

Alto brought together revolutionary ideas from earlier research projects about how to use a computer, such as a display that would show any image as bits in a computer's memory; using images rather than typed words to control a program; and a simple pointing device, the mouse, to touch and affect those images.

Alto was never sold, but it transformed the computer industry. Its graphical user interface inspired the Apple Lisa and Macintosh, Microsoft Windows, and MIT's X window system on Unix platforms.
MITS Altair 8800
Introduced in 1975
Intel 8080 microprocessor
8-bit word size, semiconductor memory, capacity of 256 bytes to 64 kilobytes
2 microsecond instruction cycle, 500 KIPS
When MITS introduced the Altair, they were looking for a new product after companies like Texas Instruments had destroyed their calculator business. They hoped to sell as many as 1,000 in the first year. Within the first few months, they sold over 50,000 orders, which kept the founders sleeping on sofas in the office, working endless hours to meet demand.

While the Altair was an enormous draw for the hobbyist community, some questioned the usefulness of this minimal machine. Two young visionaries, Paul Allen and Bill Gates, addressed their concerns with a useful BASIC interpreter that ran on the Altair in as little as 4K bytes of memory. This was the beginning of the world’s largest software company.

This machine was purchased from a person who had bought the kit version. It was necessary to disassemble and reassemble it to get it working.
IMS Associates IMSAI 8080
Introduced in 1975
Intel 8080 microprocessor
8-bit word size, semiconductor memory, capacity of 256 bytes to 64 kilobytes
2 microsecond instruction cycle, 500 KIPS
The IMSAI was a successful machine in an early rush to capitalize on the success of the Altair and Microsoft BASIC. In a day before standards for the nascent microcomputer industry, IMSAI presented a similar set of hardware interfaces to allow easy adoption of the popular software of the day.

Some people prefer the IMSAI for its larger paddle switches – reminiscent of the DEC computers. It also learned from the Altair and provided better hardware, such as its power supply and cooling fans.
Radio Shack TRS-80
Introduced in 1980
Zilog Z-80 microprocessor
8-bit word size, semiconductor memory, capacity of 4 to 48 kilobytes
588 nanosecond instruction cycle
Radio Shack was a consumer electronics company which, at the time, meant offering hobbyists bits and pieces to build their own devices, as well as providing accessories for home TVs and stereos. The TRS-80 was a bold adventure that was not popular with corporate headquarters. Originally, only enough TRS-80s were built to serve as accounting machines for each store. But their low cost, simple design and broad availability of software written in BASIC contributed to a broad appeal, encouraging parent company Tandy to build several subsequent models targeted for home and business users.
Apple II Plus
Introduced in 1979
MOS Technology 6502
8-bit word size, semiconductor memory, capacity of 4 to 48 kilobytes
1 microsecond instruction cycle, 1 MIPS
A more polished follow-on to the original Apple I, this model retained the idea that a computer should power up ready to do something. Its form was the first expression of what would become Steve Jobs' signature mastery of industrial engineering. But what really sold the machine was Dan Bricklin's choice of the Apple II as the platform for the first visual spreadsheet program, VisiCalc. This now common idea, expressed in Microsoft's Excel program, was a revolutionary adaptation of a well-known business metaphor to a computer in a way that improved on the original concept. It was the first "killer app."
Atari 400
Introduced in 1979
MOS Technology 6502B
8-bit word size, semiconductor memory, capacity of 8 to 48 kilobytes
559 nanosecond instruction cycle, 1.8 MIPS
The Atari 400 was a successor to a popular series of microprocessor-based game consoles, with a keyboard to place it in the domain of the home computer that was gaining popularity. It was one of the first machines that established the microcomputer as an item of consumer electronics.
Osborne Executive
Introduced in 1982
Zilog Z80B
8-bit word size, semiconductor memory, capacity of 64 kilobytes
250 nanosecond instruction cycle, 1 MIPS
Osborne produced a microcomputer that had none of the characteristics of a game console, positioning itself as a tool for the professional. It was also designed to be portable – although other microcomputers were small, they were clearly intended to sit on a desk. The Osborne closed up into a suitcase-like form, and included a small but useable video display in its case. Its weight spawned the description, "luggable."
Commodore 64
Introduced in 1982
MOS Technology 6510
8-bit word size, semiconductor memory, capacity of 64 kilobytes
978 nanosecond instruction cycle, 1.02 MIPS
The Commodore 64 remains in retrospect the dominant icon of the early home computer marketplace. Its low price and effective marketing in both the home computer and game device markets resulted in broad market penetration. The company built an effective ecosystem of add-on devices and an upward migration path that kept the device relevant for many years.
IBM Personal Computer
Introduced in 1981
Intel 8088
8-bit word size, semiconductor memory, capacity of 16 to 256 kilobytes
210 nanosecond instruction cycle, 330 KIPS
IBM originally thought this machine would be used as a front end for its mainframe computers, and only intended to sell a small number of them. But the IBM brand, combined with an enthusiastic cottage industry of third-party vendors building extensions to the open, unrestricted architecture, led to runaway sales for the relatively expensive machine. The IBM label was a foot in the door with business customers who were previously skeptical about the "personal computer" in the workplace.
Apple Macintosh
Introduced in 1984
Motorola 68000
16-bit word size, semiconductor memory, capacity of 128 kilobytes
128 nanosecond instruction cycle, 750 KIPS
Steve Jobs was fascinated with the ideas presented by the Xerox Alto and redirected the new Lisa to use a graphical user interface. But the Lisa was too expensive. Jobs commandeered the Macintosh project, producing this machine for a quarter of Lisa's price. Apple's strategy of selling computers at massive discounts to educational buyers, combined with the introduction of graphics software such as Pagemaker, helped Apple gain a small but fiercely loyal customer base.