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Early Electrical and Mechanical Computers

Greg

New Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2004
Messages
2
Location
Connecticut
Hello,

I have been collecting old computers for almost 10 years. My father bought his first computer in the mid 60's (Proton 712 with 1k of core memory). He sometimes had me wind punch tape instead of hiring a baby sitter. I have written a half dozen real-time kernels so far in my career. I am new to this type of forum and I could use advice in how to become part of a larger community.

In my collection I have the usual: 5 slot IBM PC, Kaypro, Apple II, Osborne, TRS-80 Model 1, Altair, IMSIA, etc… I also have some odd stuff:
Road Runner – CPM Laptop with Removable Cartridge Memory
Picker Necular DAC-512 – “PC” with 512 bytes of core memory, Nixie Display
Mechanical Integrator of Unknown Origin – Implements 2nd order Diff Equ
Bombsite Computer from B-29 – Functions as Autopilot on Bombing Run
Marchant ACR8D – Performs Long Division
Intel ICE-8051 – Replaces Microprocessor to Debug Hardware
NCR Tabulator – Seems to be a secure mechanical data base of some sort
I also tend to focus on the small stuff like punch tape and magnetic card editing equipment, ratcheting relays, test and measurement equipment, Software debugging tools, etc…

I also have piles of schematics and manuals for things like an ESS Number 1 Phone Switch (First Transistorized Phone Switch) and a full set of engineering drawings for the Marchant ACR8D. My goal is to scan in this stuff and post pictures people can use without restrictions. I also am willing to disassemble and photograph stuff on request. This is partially because most of the stuff was given to me for free so I feel obligated to make my collection available to others. It also attracts more contributions when I do presentations and distributes the information I have acquired.

Anyone interested in posting pictures can contact me and I will photograph the stuff to order. If you can tell me how to address the copyright issues, I will scan in manuals. In fact I could use some help in this regard. I have the software to generate the scanned documents but I don’t yet have the facilities to convert them to a searchable form.

Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in helping me get started in this forum. Also if you need advice on how to get old stuff running I might be able to help but I get just as frustrated as anyone else. The only difference is that I like being frustrated.

Greg
gboria@snet.net
 

Erik

Site Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Apr 27, 2003
Messages
3,592
Location
San Jose, CA
Re: Early Electrical and Mechanical Computers

Greg said:
I have been collecting old computers for almost 10 years. My father bought his first computer in the mid 60's (Proton 712 with 1k of core memory). He sometimes had me wind punch tape instead of hiring a baby sitter.

I used to play with IBM card punches connected to a 360 in the same way. :D

Greg said:
I am new to this type of forum and I could use advice in how to become part of a larger community.

That's easy and you've already done it! Just post and offer your knowledge and experience. Whenever you see a post you can contribute to then do so. If you have a question that needs answering then post it and hope that someone here can help (they usually can).

If you are interested in becoming more active in vintage computing in general then let me know and I can pass along a bunch of other ideas.

Greg said:
In my collection I have the usual: 5 slot IBM PC, Kaypro, Apple II, Osborne, TRS-80 Model 1, Altair, IMSIA, etc… I also have some odd stuff:
Road Runner – CPM Laptop with Removable Cartridge Memory
Picker Necular DAC-512 – “PC” with 512 bytes of core memory, Nixie Display
Mechanical Integrator of Unknown Origin – Implements 2nd order Diff Equ
Bombsite Computer from B-29 – Functions as Autopilot on Bombing Run
Marchant ACR8D – Performs Long Division
Intel ICE-8051 – Replaces Microprocessor to Debug Hardware
NCR Tabulator – Seems to be a secure mechanical data base of some sort
I also tend to focus on the small stuff like punch tape and magnetic card editing equipment, ratcheting relays, test and measurement equipment, Software debugging tools, etc…

That's a very nice collection. I especially like the bombsite - those early mechanical computing devices can be a lot of fun!

Greg said:
I also have piles of schematics and manuals for things like an ESS Number 1 Phone Switch (First Transistorized Phone Switch) and a full set of engineering drawings for the Marchant ACR8D. My goal is to scan in this stuff and post pictures people can use without restrictions. I also am willing to disassemble and photograph stuff on request. This is partially because most of the stuff was given to me for free so I feel obligated to make my collection available to others. It also attracts more contributions when I do presentations and distributes the information I have acquired.

Anyone interested in posting pictures can contact me and I will photograph the stuff to order. If you can tell me how to address the copyright issues, I will scan in manuals. In fact I could use some help in this regard. I have the software to generate the scanned documents but I don’t yet have the facilities to convert them to a searchable form.

Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in helping me get started in this forum. Also if you need advice on how to get old stuff running I might be able to help but I get just as frustrated as anyone else. The only difference is that I like being frustrated.

That's a very generous offer. You'll have to figure out the copyright issues for each item (Altair manuals are, for instance, pretty much public domain while IMSAI still exists in some form and might retain those rights).

Welcome aboard!

Erik
 

NewCollector

New Member
Joined
Mar 30, 2004
Messages
1
Location
Huntington Beach, CA
Regarding your collection

Regarding your collection

Hey, if you find out some tidbit about how to become part of a larger community, please pass it along.

I'm curious, having just purchased my first collectable, a 128K Macintosh, how do you get rare items like an IMSAI 8080 or the original IBM PC? Starting my checking ebay weekly. Appreciate any help you can give me,
Douglas Allen, MD.
 

Erik

Site Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Apr 27, 2003
Messages
3,592
Location
San Jose, CA
I do a ton of different things to find machines and there are still a bunch I don't do.

What I do:

- Check eBay, the VCM and other auction and sales sites as often as possible (at least daily for the first two, others somewhat less)
- Check the various vintage related news groups and mailing lists for items that might be available (I've gotten a few systems and other items that way)
- Check this message board and similar ones for available items

Things I could do, but don't:

- Hit up various computer recyclers, goodwill stores and similar venues
- Attend electronics swap meets
- Scour garage and estate sales

Between those there are tons of opportunities to find machines.

One other thing - my website seems to attract both people interested in computers and those interested in getting rid of them. I'm frequently asked to value machines and often get to make an offer on them if I find them interesting.

And before you ask - I am very honest about my valuations. I won't lowball a machine I'm interested in! That wouldn't be fair and it could only cost me in the end.

Erik
 

PS1

Member
Joined
Mar 18, 2004
Messages
40
Location
Huddersfield UK
second hand markets are a great place to find home computers.
ebay is one of my favourites i recently found a compaq 386s on there in great condition.

sometimes you will get them for nothing i have just got a job lot for

£5.50 i just need to collect them.

d8_1_b.JPG


u82A Microline Printer
IBM PS2 Color Display (Type/Model 8513002)
IBM Enhanced Color Display (Model 5154002)
Micro Vitec screen (Nov '91) Model 9N453755GS2 (14H94AGS2)
ITT XTRA XP Model 400372-004 Rev A
Dell 210
NCR System 3300 Model 0201
ICL DRS M40
Elonex PC286M-120
IBM PS2 Model 50Z



its good fun finding them too.
 

Terry Yager

Veteran Member
Joined
May 1, 2003
Messages
8,763
Location
Saginaw, MI, USA 48601
I used to volunteer at the local Salvation Army Thrift Store. (Try it, you might be plesantly surprised...just ask 'em). They didn't have anybody on staff who knew anything about computers, so they assigned me to a room full of old computer stuff (they hadn't been putting anything out on the floor for some time because they had no clue on how to price them). So that was what I did, deciding what was sellable and at what price. (As Erik pointed out, it's important to price the things fairly, even if it's something you might be interested in). Either way, I got first crack at whatever went out on the floor, (since I was the one setting it out) so it worked out ok for a while. Pretty soon that room full of computers was empty, and my collection greatly enriched (as well as thier coffers). I realize this option is not available to everyone, but I wasn't working so had some extra time on my hands anyways. I just put in a couple of mornings a week, while it lasted. Nowadays, they do things a little bit differently. Every computer-related item is given a flat price, either $8.88, for large items, or $4.99 for smaller stuff, like disk drives, etc. so my services are no longer needed there.
BTW, another benefit I enjoyed while working there, was that I got to meet a whole lot of other computer collectors. I was kinda surprised how many people in my own town were interested in the hobby. There are a number of folks who faithfully check in every day or so to look for interesting, collectible stuff. (Of course, me being "the computer guy" they all wanted to talk to me about computers). You can expand your "network" (and your knowledge base) that way.

--T
 

barryp

Experienced Member
Joined
Jun 20, 2003
Messages
351
Location
Cary, North Carolina
Terry Yager said:
I used to volunteer at the local Salvation Army Thrift Store.

Our local Salvation Army used to hold auctions several times a week and for a time I'd be there. You never know what you'll find, this was stuff that wasn't good enough for their regular store so it wasn't much...
 
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