A Brief History of Machine Personalities

D. Schmudde
May 16, 2015 · 5 min read

The Character & Ephemera From a Century of Machine Thinking

The Loom

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Jacquard Loom pasteboard punch cards
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A Jacquard Loom and punch card pattern

The Tabulator

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The 80 column punch card
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An IBM card punching machine
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A map of German ancestry in 1890. The American 1890 census was the first to be machine-tabulated. Because of this, the bureau was able to add new, detailed questions and observe micro-trends in the American population.

The Mainframe

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RCA 501 Brochure © RCA Corporation

The IBM 704 became the world’s first singing computer in 1961. Vocal programmed by John Kelly and Carol Lockbaum. Accompaniment programmed by Max Mathews

The Personal Computer

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Chuck Peddle’s revolutionary 6502 microprocessor. Originally designed by hand, without the aid of a computer.
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Commodore 64 after booting
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Attack of the Mutant Camels for the Atari 800 by Jeff Minter

The Networked Personal Computer

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Susan Kare’s Macintosh icons
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My Twitter stream
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The ubiquitous 21st century search bar. The computer is attempting to guess what I am about to ask.. or warning me about humanity’s inevitable future.

There is much more to this story! Check out Jack and the Machine, an interactive documentary that parallels the development of the PC with the life and times of holocaust survivor Jack Tramiel, the founder of Commodore Business Machines and the man who did more than anybody else to build a “computer for the masses, not the classes.”

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