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Computer History Museum opens new exhibit (photos)

Nestled in the heart of Silicon Valley, the Computer History Museum has opened a spectacular exhibit that traces the birth of the computer. Several industry pioneers showed up for the launch.

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Scott Ard

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Hollerith Electric Tabulating System

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.--Nestled in the heart of Silicon Valley, the Computer History Museum has opened a spectacular exhibit that traces the birth of the computer. Several industry pioneers showed up for the launch on Tuesday.

This is a replica of the Hollerith Electric Tabulating System that was used to process punch cards in the 1890 census. In all, 60 million cards were processed with these machines.

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Uniservo tape drive

Massive Uniservo tape drives were used on UNIVAC 1 computers in the 1950s.
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UNIVAC 1 mercury memory tank

From the museum's info card: "For memory, the UNIVAC used seven mercury delay tanks. Eighteen pairs of crystal transducers in each tank transmitted and received data as waves in mercury held at a constant of 149 degree Fahrenheit."
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SAGE installation

This SAGE installation (IBM, 1958) contained two computers for redundancy (which only partly explains the massive footprint).
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Magnetic drum

This magnetic drum (1955) was used to read and write data. The scratches are the result of misaligned heads.
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RAMAC actuator and disk stack

The heart of the world's first disk drive (1956) has 50 24-inch disks that spun at 1,200 RPM and could hold 5 million characters.
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1984 computers

State of the art in 1984: an IBM PC, Apple Mac, and Apple Lisa.
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Gaming consoles

Assorted game consoles. How many have you owned (and don't lie about having the Pippin)?
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IBM 1130

Apple co-founder and Apple II creator Steve Wozniak says an IBM 1130 (1965) like this one was the first computer he used.
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Cray-1A

For five years the Cray-1A (1976) was the world's fastest computer. Each machine was hand-wired and took about a year to complete and cost $6 million - $10 million.
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ARPANET Interface Message Processor

The drab-looking box played a crucial role in the creation of the Internet. Called an Interface Message Processor (1969), it was the interface between the ARPANET, the Internet's predecessor, and a computer connected to the network.
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Belleville Personal Computer

Talk about homebrew. Robert Belleville built this computer (1980) around an Intel 8080 microprocessor. The design was inspired by the Xerox Alto, which he had worked on.
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Hawk missile autopilot

Two men check out a Hawk missile autopilot system (1960) built by Raytheon.
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Spacewar!

Spacewar! is acknowledged as one of the first, if not the first, computer games. Creator Steve Russell stands by an operational PDP-1 (1960), the computer he used to create the game.
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Spacewar!

Steve Russell, the creator of Spacewar!, shows how players in the early 1960s operated the game using toggle switches on the PDP-1.
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Pong

Al Acorn invented the Pong arcade game and co-founded Atari with Nolan Bushnell.
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Steve Wozniak

Steve Wozniak co-founded Apple Computer and created the iconic Apple II computer.
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Fran Allen

Fran Allen is considered a pioneer in the field of optimizing compilers and has developed several programming languages. She also developed an advanced code-breaking language known as Alpha while working with IBM in the 1960s.
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Don Knuth

Legendary computer scientist Don Knuth is best known for his book series on computing algorithms and structures called "The Art of Computer Programming."
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Max Mathews

Max Mathews programmed the first computer-generated sounds in the 1950s while working at Bell Labs. A believer that any sound a human can hear can be generated by a computer, his pioneering work paved the way for musicians to synthesize, record, and play music on computers.
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Al Acorn

Al Acorn co-founded Atari with Nolan Bushnell and is credited with creating Pong in the 1970s, which sparked a new industry of coin-operated video games.

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