Living Museum of Dead Computers

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Below are sections for each of the displays in the Living Museum of Dead Computers with the goal of writing a concise statement suitable for museum signage.


Slate Tablet*

Inscribed by its contributor with the statement "Your new information technology may become obsolete". According to Wikipedia, the use of writing slates dates back to the 14th century, but became the primary tool in the classroom for students in the 1800s century and remained so until the 1930s, when pencil and paper became more common.

Contributed by: Rodger Gwiazdowski

Leroy Lettering Guide*

Before computer printers, many scientists turned to Leroy Lettering Guides to label axes and figures.

Contributed by: John Roberts

Slide Rule

Before integrated circuits made pocket calculators affordable in the 1970s, students in science and engineering learned to use a slide rule to perform mathematical calculations.

On Loan from: Chris Hoogendyk

Mechanical Calculator*

The Monroe Calculator Company, founded in 1912, started out making mechanical adding machines. Electromechanical calculators, like this one, were produced through the 1960s and 1970s. This one is probably from the late 1950s and cost $595 when new. It was probably used by ecologists to calculate life tables.

HP Programmable Calculator

Contributed by: George Drake

Model 15 Teletype*

The Model 15 teletype came into service in the 1930s and was the mainstay for electronic communications during World War II. It remained in service in press agencies until the 1970s.

Contributed by: Al Woodhull


Digital Equipment Corporation was an important, early Massachusetts computer company. This computer, manufactured in 1974, this computer was still in service in the 1990's with a small paper sign taped to it saying "Please God, Keep it Running".

Contributed by: Steven D. Brewer

Compaq Portable III*

This 20 lb "luggable" was the closest thing to a laptop in 1987. It cost $5,000 ($10,545 in 2014 dollars) with a 20 MB hard disk. 12 MHz 80286 CPU, 640 to 2048 Kilobytes RAM. 5 and 1/4 inch floppy disk, 1.2 MB. Salmon-colored gas plasma display, 640 x 400 pixels or 25 lines by 80 characters text. Operating system: text based MS-DOS 3.31 (no GUI).

Contributed by: Eric Martz

Amstrad PCW8256*

Amstrad computers claimed a substantial part of the computer market in the UK, but were never common in the US. This model was sold as a personal word processor through Sears, but came with CP/M, BASIC, and Logo.

Contributed by: Steven D. Brewer


The IBM PC is perhaps the most iconic computer of all time, symbolizing the transformation from when computers moved from the backroom and office to the home. Purchased in 1983 for $4500, this computer had an 8088 processor (around 5 Mhz), 640K of RAM, and 2 160kb floppy drives.

Contributed by: William E. Bemis

Powerbook 100*

The first modern laptop computer, which set the design characteristics that would define the industry, the Powerbook 100 has been recognized as the one of the most transformative computers of all time.

Contributed by: Steven D. Brewer

TRS-80 Model 100*

The Model 100 version of the classic TRS-80 set the standard for mobile computing for a generation. It was still in service -- and in demand -- 20 years later for journalists and scientists working in remote areas due to its ability to use retail batteries (D-cells) and communicate reliably through simple telephony. The Microsoft BASIC interpreter is reputed to be the last code that Bill Gates personally worked on.

Contributed by: Steven D. Brewer

NeXT Cube*

After Steve Jobs left Apple, he started NeXT to build high-end workstations. Early models had neither a floppy nor a hard-drive and, instead, used an odd magneto-optical disk. NeXT was ultimately purchased by Apple and its operating system formed the basis of MacOS X. Sir Timothy Berners-Lee, the creator of the World Wild Web, used a NeXT computer which became the first web server.

Contributed by: Brett Longworth

Original George

Before desktop computers were available on the mass market, George Drake created computers for word processing in the Biology Department. Although the computers have been lost to time, this one keyboard remains.

Contributed by: George Drake

Raspberry Pi*

The Raspberry Pi is a credit card-sized single-board computer developed in the UK by the Raspberry Pi Foundation with the intention of promoting the teaching of basic computer science in schools. (Statement from Wikipedia). They're widely used here for digital signage.

Contributed by: Biology Department

Apple II C*

Released shortly after the Macintosh computer, this fourth revision of the Apple II computer was intended to be compact and portable. Aimed at novice computer users, it was less expandable than previous models, but simpler to set up and operate.

Contributed by: Joe Kunkel

Toshiba T1100*

Manufactured in 1986, Toshiba described this computer as "the world's first mass-market laptop computer". It was used for word processing for many years in the Biology Department.

Contributed by: Steven D. Brewer

Original Macintosh

Released in 1984, the original Apple Macintosh broke new boundaries in Desktop computing as the first mass-market computer with a graphical user operating system.

Contributed by: Tom Hoogendyk

Indigo iMac

Another groundbreaking Apple computer, the iMac set a new aesthetic standard for computers, did away with proprietary connectors -- and the floppy drive. It had an atrocious -- and hated mouse termed the "hockey puck", which people found ways to work around.

Contributed by: Biology Department

Core Memory

An early form of working memory (what we call RAM today) was made with little ferrite donuts wrapped in wire called "core memory".

Contributed by: George Drake

Wafer of 386 Microprocessors

Contributed by: Chris Woodcock

Tape Storage

Tape storage, used principally for backup, migrated from reel-to-reel tapes to cassettes.

Hard Drives

Mass storage has decreased in size and increased dramatically in capacity and shows no sign of slowing.

Floppy Disks*

Floppy disks, initially as 8-inch (200 mm) media and later in 5¼-inch (133 mm) and 3½-inch (90 mm) sizes, were a ubiquitous form of data storage and exchange from the mid-1970s well into the 2000s. (From Wikipedia)

EZ 135 and Zip Drive

As portable storage needs outgrew floppies, two companies fought for dominance in the removable storage market. Ultimately, the Iomega Zip Drive won over the Syquest EZ 135 but, in the end, flash storage (thumbdrives and cards) has displaced all of these technologies.

Contributed by: Steven D. Brewer

Networking Hardware

Behind the scenes, networking hardware quietly hums away exchanging packets and providing connectivity. Morrill has had four generations of networking hardware: thick wire, thin wire, twisted pair, and fiber.

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