Welcome to our collection of Rare Computers & Documents
This collection of rare and vintage computers is one of the largest collections of historical computers in the United States. The EarlyComputers' collection is intended to foster education, encourage research and preserve items that are an integral part of computer history. Our goal is to provide a wide array of rare materials (hardware, software, magazines, newsletters, peripheral devices, books, advertisements, games and personal recollections) that can be used to obtain a broader and better understanding of the history of computing.
The collection houses over 1,000 vintage computer related items, including more than 180 vintage computers and over 20 analog computers. The collection of hardware, software and print materials consists of a wide variety of rare computer items ranging from an 1834 article about Charles Babbage's "new Calculating Engine" to a 45 rpm blue, vinyl record used to store computer programs to numerous computers manufactured between 1950 and 1981.
The EarlyComputers website is attempting to provide you with original research using primary source materials whenever possible. Aside from making use of the rare computers in the EarlyComputer's collection, we are also making use of the Smithsonian, the National Archives, numerous other collections (such as Bruce Damer's DigiBarn collection) and personal interviews with individuals who were involved in bringing about the personal computer revolution.
What's in the EarlyComputers Collection?
The EarlyComputers' collection of vintage computers is currently housed near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. But we have travelled far and wide to find rare computers, obtain vintage documents and interview those who have contributed to the history of computing. Among the places we have travelled are Florida, California, Massachusetts, Virginia, New York, Utah, Kansas, Ohio (yes, we even went to Cleveland), London, England, Bletchley Park, England and Milan, Italy.
What is a "Vintage Computer"?
There are many definitions of what an "early" computer really is. Some say a computer made more than 20 years ago is historical, others argue that a truly vintage computer must be 25 years or even 30 years. The trouble with choosing a timespan like "25 years ago" is that it changes as each year goes by.
We choose to pick a significant date in the history of personal computing. We define early computers as those made before IBM entered the personal computer market in 19811. IBM's entrance into personal computing changed the face of the industry. With IBM's knowledge, marketing and world-wide presence, it instantly became the 800 pound gorilla and not many companies survived. Therefore, our collection is generally limited to items manufactured or printed ON or BEFORE 1981.
For a more detailed definition of what makes a vintage computer, see our article entitled, "What was the first personal computer?". [Coming Soon]
As we develop the earlycomputers.com website, we hope to give you the opportunity to participate directly online.... the chance to add your stories, your research and your experience to ours. In the meantime, if you are interested in participating, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
COMPUTER COLLECTION LIST (PRE-1981)
(Analogs in blue)
OTHER COMPUTERS (LUGGABLES 1982-1986)
RARE & NOTABLE DOCUMENTS