Warren Baelen sez: "I was [at the Computer History Museum] the other night for a memorial to Ken Iverson who recently passed away. He was the designer/inventor of several languages including APL and J. Ken was a great mathematician and computer pioneer and they had a nice tribute to him. But before the memorial I got to take the walking tour.
What I thought BB readers may want to know about is this "viewable storage" tour. It features some computers that you would expect to see at a computer history museum, including an Apple I signed by Wozniak, a piece of the Eniac, but it also has some other really cool things such as a complete Johniac, an IBM 7030 "Strech", a few Cray machines. One computer that stood out in my mind was an IBM radar analysis computer -- features included: *light pen/gun, *circular radar console, *built-in phone (rotary of course), *cigarette lighter and ashtray.
Yes, a cigarette lighter and ashtray -- because watching radar of Russian bombers must have been really boring. I enclosed a picture of the computer with ashtray (which appears on the left hand side -- rotary phone on right). Apparently this machine was obsolete when it was deployed because the USSR switched to using ICBMs and this machine was built for tracking bombers in the Artic circle -- however it wasn't declassified until the 1980s because the Russians didn't know what its capabilities were. As my father put it, 'sometimes a blinking light is just a blinking light.'"
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. His new book is Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects