News about computers, microcomputers, hobbyist, robotics, computing, museums, Bugbooks, Computers at Bugbook Historical Computer Museum, Floyd VA - the history makers present and historical.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

PDP11/10 Vintage Minicomputer in Bugbook Historical Micrcomputer Museum

Our museum has only one minicomputer - (PDP11/10)   on display. We think it is a good idea to have a minicomputer to make comparisons with the microcomputers.  This PDP11 was  made
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
PDP11 computer
info click
in 1971 and cost about as much as a small house. It is easy to see why not many people could afford to purchase a minicomputer for home use. When the first microcomputers became available they were instantly in demand. The Altair 8800 first microcomputer kit made possible home computing  in January of 1975. The Altair 8800 sold for $395 however it was very limited in capability without a lot of skilled work and additions to the computer. The Altair was designed by Ed Roberts. Ed thought he could sell 500 computers however I understand he had 4000 orders the first several months. We are fortunate to have one of the very first Altair 8800's in our collection -- Serial Number 23.

Click photo to enlarge
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
PDP11 and David Larsen, Curator with PDP11

Digital Epuipment Corporation (DEC) made mincomputer from 1960 to about 1990. Microcomputers put DEC out of business with very good low cost computing. The first PDP computer was a PDP1 in 1960. Only about 3 of these computers still survive. The Computer History Museum in Mt. View, California has a restored PDP1 restored and in nice working condition.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
PDP11/10 minicomputer

Many versions of the PDP11 were made and about 600,000 were sold during its 20 year lifetime.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum

The core memory is nonvolatile and does not lose its memory when powered off for the day. This module has very tiny cores -probably  16k words of 16 bits each.

Magnetic core memory module PDP11/10

Click this link for a verbal description.The PDP 11/10 

David Larsen

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Vintage Computers -Graduate Independent Study at "Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum"

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We are delighted to be working with Grayson Van Beuren in a Virginia Tech -  Graduate Independent Study program at the museum. Grayson became interested in doing a study after seeing the "Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum"  article in the Roanoke times by  Catherine Van Noy.  Grayson also visited our museum during open house last month.  Grayson has started his project  by making several of our  old computers operational and encouraging folks to give the operating historic computers a try.

Click on photo to enlarge
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
L-R Grayson Van Beuren, David Larsen-Curator
Here is Grayson's Study plan.
Grayson Van Beuren
Material Culture and Humanities
Computers and Museums Material Culture Project
Independent Study Proposal

This independent study’s purpose is to explore the history of the electronic computer through its material culture. It also aims to facilitate a better understanding of the unique preservation and presentation problems surrounding this delicate and largely esoteric field of material culture.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
L-R Emily Wilson -Assistant Curator,
 Grayson Van Beuren
The independent study will occur through a partnership with the Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum in Floyd, Virginia. The museum’s founder, retired instructor of instrumentation at Virginia Tech David Larsen, has agreed to host a part of the IS. The museum’s collection represents forty years of collecting on the part of Mr. Larsen. From the museum website:

Mr. Larsen’s expertise in the field of microcomputers, and especially the collection and preservation of microcomputers, should make this a valuable independent study for the student.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Grayson with Apple 1 computer project

The independent study will be comprised of two parts: weekly visits to the museum of three to four hours during which the student will act as an intern, learning about the presentation and preservation of computer material culture in the process, and outside research into the history of the preservation of computer hardware and other forms of material culture associated with the computing field. These two parts of the study will culminate in the student writing a 10-15 page paper summing up his experiences at the Bugbook and examining the problems surrounding preservation and presentation of computer material culture in museums and other historic institutions.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum.
Nathan, Conette, Gaynell Larsen, David Larsen (curator)

We are getting more visitors in the museum every day. On the left is Nathan and Anat Oster from Israel - Saturday 9-13-14. Nathan is a lawyer and Dr. Oster is Head of  Computer Science department, Beit Berl Collage.  They were very enthusiastic about our museum display. Their work in Israel sounds real interesting and we may visit them in the future.

David Larsen
The curators here at the museum are looking forward to working with Grayson. I am sure we will all learn from this independent study.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Vintage Computers - What is in a Name - How we are named the "Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum"

Why we call our museum the "Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum"  - here is the short story.

To enlarge "CLICK" on photo
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Museum bugs
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Bugbook lll
I call our museum  "The Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum"  is because of the original  "Bugbooks" . About 1974 I was part of a team that produced these books. The first two Bugbooks were written and published by Professor Rony and I.  I named the books Bugbooks because the small digital integrated circuits looked like a bug with its legs.  Professor Rony typed the manuscripts and we self published the first few printings of the "Bugbooks" These books were the start of a book series called "The Blacksburg Continuing Education Series" .  The books covered various topics of digital electronics, computers and software. Dr. John Titus and Dr. Chris Titus joined the group and became important members of our team. 
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Bugbooks 1 & 2 for sale
During the period 1974 to 1984 about 75 books were published with a circulation of over 1 million copies.  Our team hired 31  authors to help write books in the series. In addition to the books our team designed several computers and other teaching / engineering aids that were sold world wide. John Titus was the computer designer and I designed the digital engineering  / teaching hardware aids. Most or the books were published and marketed by "Howard W Sams" and the hardware was marked by "E and L Instruments" in Derby Connecticut.  Many engineers, technicians and  electronic hobbyist of the late 70's and 80s used  these books and hardware.  All the books and 
hardware are on display in our museum. A reoccurring comment from  
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Howard W Sams AdvertisingDisplay of 
"Blacksburg Series Books.
folks visiting the museum is - I  learned digital electronics from the "Bugbooks".  The experience with the Blacksburg Group started my interest in collecting microcomputer memorabilia for 40 years and has resulted in the thousands of items collected and the small display in the museum. The Bugbook story involves many relationships, interesting events and eclectic people.  It is my  intent to get the details of these adventures in writing -- soon I hope.

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Howard W Sams Catalog with

Howard W Sams Book catalog with the "Blacksburg Continuing Education Series" Books for sale - about 1978

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Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
E and L Catalog

E and L catalog 1977 with all the Blacksburg Group books and hardware for sale.

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Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Book Series on display at musem
"CLICK" for more information 

See Video's about Dave's Historical Computer Collection CLICK

David Larsen
We hope you will come visit our museum and enjoy this Blog.  Your comments and suggestions are welcome.  

Monday, August 18, 2014

Vintage Computers - Paul Terrell - Helps with information about Apple 1 computer in wooden case.

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Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Searching for source of this
 wooden case on my 
Apple 1 Computer
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Museum Bugs with
Apple 1 computer 
I received the email below from Paul Terrell 7/4/13 in my hunt to find out where the wooded case on my Apple 1 computer may have originated. Paul started Byte Shop in December 1975 and purchased the first 50 Apple 1 computers from Jobs and Woz. This large purchase played a very important part of the success of the Apple Company start up. Without this purchase and marketing by Byte Shop the Apple Company we know today may not exist.  Paul grew his stores into a franchise operation that reached from the United States to Japan. He also began manufacturing the  "Byte 8" computer for sale in his Byte Shop stores. Paul had a really great idea with his Byte Shop stores. I gleaned  some of this information from Wikipedia - take a look you will find Paul's story a very interesting and an important part of the Personal Computer revolution.

Here is the email from Paul Terrell:
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Paul Terrell
This is from Steve Williams who worked at the Byte Shop in Palo Alto and one of their customers made the wooden cases and sold them to the store managers and owners. I am not sure of the actual wood used but I do remember putting one together myself in the Byte Shop Mt. View (Original store where I bought the first 50 from jobs and Woz) and the wood of that case was not shinny and didn't have any grain to speak of. It could have been Koa . Bob Moody the manager of the Palo Alto store might have a better recollection .

This must have been written by Steve Williams.
The Apple 1 pictured wasn't sold by Steve Jobs at the Byte Shop. Rather, Jobs and Woz sold the Apple 1s to the Byte Shop chain as bare boards, and the Byte Shop chased down keyboards and power supplies, and hired somebody to make the wooden cases pictured. In the photo, the really innovative, bare board computer that Jobs and Woz produced is hidden inside the case.

Photo of Apple 1 with keyboard in wood case.

The Byte Shops had bought the Apple 1s during the year prior to my arrival. By the time I got there, the Apple 1s were an annoyance. Most of them didn't work, they weren't selling, and Apple wasn't being very responsive. The wooden cases were really crappy, too. And the surplus keyboards were expensive and in short supply.
One of my first tasks was to carry a whole stack of bad Apple 1 boards back to Apple. My boss gave me directions to a little one-story office mall in Cupertino. I found it modern, but Apple's offices were pretty bare. I arrived bearing my stack of boards, and the four or five Apple people went and retrieved Jobs. He seemed unfazed that a stack of Apple 1 boards had failed. "So, what do you think of the Apple 1?" he asked. I didn't know anything about it, having worked only on SWTPC 6800 micros and the big computers at BYU. I said something like, "I don't know, but my boss thinks they're not very reliable." He wasn't pleased, but breezed off to dazzle the next visitor. He was pretty famous, in a small way, even then.
It was only a few months later that the Apple II became available. It was hotly anticipated by the hobbyists of the time. The first Apple II delivered to a customer was through our store. Someone from Apple drove up from Cupertino and dropped it off at the store. We set it up on a table in the front of the store and called a bunch of our customers to come in and see it. By the time the buyer arrived, there was an SRO crowd trying to see it draw abstract images (in color!) on a TV set we used as a monitor. (That's about all it did, since no software was available for it.) The buyer scooped it up and took it home, and we didn't see another for weeks.
bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Early Byte Shop Store

I tried to contact Bob Moody the manager of the original Byte Shop Palo Alto store with no luck so far.

Thank you Paul Terrell for this information.

David Larsen
David Larsen KK4WW
I still am not sure of the origin of the wooden case on the Apple 1 computer I purchased from John Burch about 25 years ago. The case is well made and beautiful as you can see from the photo in upper left of this post. I would be delighted to hear from anyone with knowledge of these wooden cases.

."by David Larsen"  KK4WW Computer Collector Historian   
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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Computer Museum - Busy day - visitors - music jam - Amateur Radio club meeting - Interviewed by reporter

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Museum BugsA
 home run today
Today was a great day with many activities at the museum- visitors - music jam - Amateur Radio club meeting - Interviewed by reporter - new displays . 

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LR Emily Wilson,Catherine Vanney, Matt Gentry
A good day for the museum with columnist Catherine Van Noy and staff photographer Matt Gentry from the Roanoke Times newspaper. Catherine did an interview with me and our assistant curator Emily Wilson. Matt and Catherine both had a big interest in the historical computers and the interview was truly a fun experience.  I will post a link when the story is published.

Update - Here is the story Catherine wrote for the New River section of the Roanoke times - "Floyd boast microcomputer museum" 

bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
New banner at Apple 1 computer Display 
Today we added 3 new banners in the museum. The banners can also be read just looking into the museum from outside so they help during times we are not open and for visitors to the museum.

This banner for the Apple 1 Computer display describes the computer as the rarest of collectible computers.

You can read the banners by clicking on the photo.

bugbook Microcomputer Historical Museum
About the Musuem 

This banner is really nice and tells about how the museum originated and what you will see inside.  This is visible looking in through the front door.

Assistant Curator "Emily Wilson" designed the new banners for the museum.

Bugbook Bugbooks
 "Blacksburg Continuing Education Series" of books

The story of book series created by the "Blacksburg Group" in the late 1970's and 80's. I was a part of this group and more then 70 books  in the series and over  million in print. These were good times for my colleagues and I.

bugbook historical microcomputer museum
Amateur Radio Club Meeting W4FCV

Club meeting at Museum.

Amateur Radio station N4USA is located in our museum and the "Floyd Amateur Radio Society" (FARS) meets once a month in the museum. A good meeting with about 20 attending.

                                         Jazz music jam at the museum View full story

David Larsen
WOW---- many wonderful activities at the museum today.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Jazz & Blues Music Jam Session at Computer Museum

                                               Hear music in video's below
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Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Cord Johnson 
Museum Bugs
 Music is a part the museum's activities. Museum Assistant Curator Cord Johnson has provided his talents here on Friday nights. Floyd,Virginia is known internationally for the "Friday Night Jamboree at the Floyd County Store"  and Cord has had his own jam secession's
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Laurel Brooke 
 just around the corner from the Country Store at the museum.  Tonight he is playing with his friend and fellow musician Laurel Brooke. They created a lot of interest and a big crowd of folks cheer their music

Music Jazz Jam at the Museum

Blues Jam at the Museum

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Cord Johnson
Cord worked this Summer for the LCF Group at the museum as Assistant Curator & on Friday nights has a jam session out front. Cord has also used his art talents to create a family of Museum Bug logos based on the original logo bug logo in use for 40 years. You see one of his drawings in the upper right of this post. Cord plays with the "The Blackberries" in Floyd, Virginia.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Laurel Brooke

Laurel is a very talented musician and plays with "Scott Perry & 3 Shades of Blue" . She is also a Concert Master at the " Roanoke Youth Symphony Orchestra"

David Larsen
David Larsen KK4WW
We have enjoyed Cord and his Friday night music jam session at the museum. This evening having Laurel Brooke join him made for some great music. Thank you Cord and Laurel.

."by David Larsen"  KK4WW Computer Collector Historian   
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Sunday, August 3, 2014

VIntage Computers "BUGS" in action Bugbook Computer Museum

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Cord Johnson - Artist
Cord Johnson - Artist 
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Museum Bugs
The original "Bugs" logo you see to the right have been associated with my work and projects for more then 40 years. This summer Cord Johnson  joined our LCF Group as Office assistant and demonstrated his art skills by making some very creative variations of the "Bug's" logo.

 I was so pleased with  wonderful creative ideas in the caricatures he inked that I ask him to create a series of Bug logos. Cord liked the idea and created a group of very eclectic Bug personalities.

Please view these Bug drawings and help name them - Cord and I look forward to hearing your ideas. Just add your ideas as a comment to blog - thank you.

To enlarge "CLICK" on image's
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
1 Museum Bug Logo

Already used this one with the new Apple 1 display in our museum.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
 2 Museum Bug Logo

Don't be late !!

Cord tells how he got the idea to make these drawings.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
4 Museum Bug Logo

What a great day.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
5 Museum Bug Logo

We can kick this to a win.

Cord - Comments:
 I was immediately attracted to the bugs when i first saw them. They have so much personality that I couldn't help but want to draw them doing goofy things. It seemed as if they were fully developed characters right out of a comic strip and I had been wanting to try my hand at making a comic strip but couldn't think of any good characters.The bug on the left looked like the spunky, fun-loving, jokester, while the bug on the right with the glasses looked like the studious scientist who would play "straight man" to all the jokes. 
     When I drew them, I tried to stay true to the originals as best as i could. However, they naturally developed slightly into my own style. No artist's style is exactly like another's. There were also certain changes I made on purpose, such as giving the bug on the left three sets of arms instead of eight sets because I quickly learned that trying to draw sixteen total arms was time consuming and messy. Cord Johnson.

To enlarge "CLICK" on photo's
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
6 Museum Bug Logo

These QR codes work great.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
7 Museum Bug Logo

Be friends

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
8 Museum Bug Logo

Keep the ideas coming !

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
9 Museum Bug Logo

Hmmmm here is the answer.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
10 Busy Museum Bug

WOW I will get this done fast.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
11 Museum "Bug" in Office

Think I will just take the day off.

bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
12 Museum Ham "Bug" 

Ham radio or pork?

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
13 Museum - Jamming 

   Friday night "Jamboree"

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
14 Museum Bug "Hamming"

Ham Radio "N4USA" Floyd VA

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
15 Museum Bug Ham Antenna 

Good Antenna's

I will be a delight to use these new Bug's as branding in some of my future computer and electronics projects. Thank you Cord.

David Larsen
David Larsen
Art is not Cord's career goal but he sure has some great creative skills. Cord will be leaving  for school at "Johnson College" in Nashville in a few days and we will miss him here at the LCF Group. This could be a great side consulting business for him --- need some help that would use Cord's art skills?
"by David Larsen"  KK4WW Computer Collector Historian   
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