The Collective Picture

Vintage Photography Redefined

admin On April - 18 - 2009
Given the significance computers play in our lives today it seems a shame to not spend time looking at the archival records that display its origins.  To think that the foundations of my sleek little laptop came from such colossal machines is mind boggling. I remember having a conversation with a women who had worked in data entry in the past but now retired was far removed from technological developments that have been made when it comes to computers. Seeing her correlation between my laptop and the massive office machines she used to clunk away at was an odd moment for me. Being raised in the late 80’s and early 90’s with a home computer and having computer skills presented in school as central to my future success has left a lasting impression. This background has ensured  that I would latch on to my laptop like so many of my peers have, clinging to its existence and relying on it for every expanding uses. My parents joke when I go home about insisting on having fast Internet available or I threaten to seek other lodging. But all humor aside my computer is central to my existence as close I think as an inanimate object can be in a person’s life so this post is for my laptops ancestral roots. Thanks to such collections as IBM’s archives there are a lot of images available online that document my MacBook’s family tree, bellow I have posted a few photos to give a glimpse of this genealogy.
coi53 My MacBooks genealogytechnologyHarvard Mark I. Length: 51 feet. Height: eight feet. Weight: nearly five tons. IBM Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator (ASCC). The largest electromechanical calculator ever built and the first automatic digital calculator in the United States. Conceived in the 1930s by Howard H. Aikena graduate a student in theoretical physics at Harvard University, the ASCC was developed and built by IBM during World War II. IBM historical archives.

Colossus.jpg A My MacBooks genealogytechnology

A Colossus Mark 2 computer. The slanted control panel on the left was used to set the pin patterns on the Lorenz(depicted bellow); the paper tape transport is on the right. Wikipedia commons.

800px SZ42 6 wheels lightened My MacBooks genealogytechnology

The Lorenz machine was used by the Germans to encrypt high-level teleprinter communications. It contained 12 wheels with a total of 501 pins. Wikipedia commons

Two women operating ENIAC My MacBooks genealogytechnology

ENIAC, short for Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer, was the first general-purpose electronic computer. It was a Turing-complete, digital computer capable of being reprogrammed to solve a full range of computing problems. Its design and construction were financed by the United States Army during World War II. The completed machine was unveiled on February 14, 1946 at the University of Pennsylvania, having cost almost $500,000


Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator (EDSAC) was an early British computer. It was constructed by Maurice Wilkes and his team at the University of Cambridge Mathematical Laboratory in England. EDSAC was the first practical stored-program electronic computer

edsac99.35 1024x815 My MacBooks genealogytechnologyEDSAC I, S.A.Barton with display used by operator

edsac99.3 My MacBooks genealogytechnology

S.A.Barton, EDSAC II, showing chassis construction with miniature valvesManchester Mark2 My MacBooks genealogytechnology

The Manchester Mark 1 was one of the earliest electronic computers, developed at the University of Manchester from the Small-Scale Experimental Machine (SSEM) or “Baby”, the world’s first electronic stored-program computer. It was also called the Manchester Automatic Digital Machine, or MADM. Work began in August 1948, and the first version was operational in April 1949, when a program written to search for Mersenne primes ran error-free for nine hours on the night of 16/17 June 1949.

coi59 My MacBooks genealogytechnology

Selective Sequence Electronic Calculator (SSEC) IBM historical archives141511 My MacBooks genealogytechnology

In 1952, the company introduced the IBM 701, its first large computer based on the vacuum tube. The tubes were quicker, smaller and more easily replaced than the electromechanical switches in the Mark I (1944). The 701 executed 17,000 instructions per second and was used primarily for government and research work.

YK00393 My MacBooks genealogytechnology

Units of the IBM 1401 are seen here in production at IBM’s Endicott, N.Y., manufacturing facility in 1960. IBM photo archives B My MacBooks genealogytechnology

Collins computer – Toronto (C-8500 computer) Toronto, Ontario, Canada October 1968. Photographer: MacLawson. Image No.: CN001026. CSTMC/CN Collection

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