20829Productive day @ museum
- Apr 17, 2011Busy day. Jeff F. dropped off another Lisa 2 -- sans keyboard just like
our other two Lisa 2 systems. Funny story: it came from someone who saw
our booth at Trenton. The guy said he had an Apple III. I called him
to say thank you, and to inform him that although we're grateful, it's a
Lisa 2, not an Apple III. We both had a harmless laugh over his
misunderstanding. He said, "Well, I also have a Lisa laptop" -- and he
wasn't kidding. "Excuse me? I'm sorry but you are mistaken again.
There was no Lisa laptop." "No, it's a Lisa laptop. It's around the
size of a laptop, with a handle on the back and a 5-1/4" floppy drive
built into the right side." "You mean an Apple IIc?" "Oh. ....." :)
I also showed Jeff around our H-building storage. He hasn't been by
since we moved out of that small corner in the adjacent section. But he
was one of the people who helped us stuff everything into that corner a
couple of years ago, so he was quite amazed to see how the collection
Matt couldn't come today and Jeff J. is on vacation, so it was just me
and Jeff B. all day. We closed the museum today and spend the afternoon
in the hotel basement. We sorted all the books and magazines down there
into library and sale piles. That took pretty much the whole day, but
now it's finally finished.
However today's highlight was meeting Oliver Reynolds. Who, you ask?
Nobody in our realm ever heard of him until today. He's 88 and learned
about InfoAge by seeing an article in the local weekly newspaper
recently. He stopped by today and said he worked during starting after
World War II, and then worked there on and off for a few decades --
include outside stints at Control Data and Magnavox.
Old-times visit InfoAge and reminisce about their Camp Evans days all
the time, so that's not so unusual. The part that REALLY got my
attention was Steve took him to see our computer exhibits, and he said,
"Oh, we built a tube computer here in the 1950s."
OH REALLY .... !!!???
That is GREAT news. MOBIDIC starting in 1956 was a very early
transistor computer; meanwhile the generation started by ENIAC was
considered over by 1953. So if he really built a tube computer at Camp
Evans, even if it was post-1953, that is VERY early in electronic
computer history. We already know that Camp Evans was a customer of the
Moore School's differential analyzer in 1947, so it's possible that
Reynolds or his colleagues attended the legendary Moore School Lectures
in 1946 -- I didn't think to ask him. Even if he wasn't there, it never
occurred to me to look at the lecture roster and see if anyone from Camp
Evans was there. I'm going to check it out immediately. Meanwhile, he
did say that he's got a color negative of him standing with the
computer, and that InfoAge is welcome to scan it. That means we can
make it into a big poster. He added that he's got a huge scrapbook of
his time at Camp Evans. So, Fred and I were very excited about this.
He's going to come by Wednesday afternoon, bring his scrapbook, and do
an on-camera interview with Fred. Fred says I can ask the
computer-related questions. This will be fun. And if Camp Evans really
did build its own tube computer in the 1950s, well, that is a BIG
addition to our rich history. It's something we can really brag about.
It's also possible that the computer was classified, and that would
explain why it's not on the list of early computers in history books.
For example, I have a book called "An Introduction to Automatic
Computers" which is very thorough and highly regarded by serious
historians. It lists the Monrobot-1 (1953) being at Ft. Monmouth, which
could mean Camp Evans; I don't know any details. Then again, the book
also lists DYSEAC (1954) also as Ft. Monmouth, which to my knowledge is
a typo -- DYSEAC was built at the National Bureau of Standards (D.C.)
and tested at the White Sands Signal Agency (New Mexico).
Anyway .... I'll report back Wednesday.
Next weekend, now that we finished stage one of the book sorting, we'll
move into stage two, which is categorizing the for-sale books.
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