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

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Apple 1 computer brings record price at auction of $905,000

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Working 1976 model sells at Bonhams' History of Science sale          

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Apple 1 sold at auction 

Bonhams auction house had suggested the Apple 1 would bring $300,000 to $500,000  however bidding set the record price of $905,000.

CBS press story of Apple 1 sale. "CLICK"

Bonhams video of the Apple 1 computer. "CLICK"

David Larsen.
I wonder -who is the winning bidder ? I will post the info when I find the answer.
."by David Larsen"  KK4WW Computer Collector Historian   

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Vintage Computer Rare SCELBI on display in "Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum"

The SCELBI 8B is a rare computer - according to the developer Nat Wadsworth only about 200 SCELBI computers were made in 1974/75.  One hundred of them were the 8B (Business Model).
Click on Photo to enlarge

bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
SCELBI 8B Microcomputer
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Mike Willagel (on  his blog) indicated only about 12 original  models are know to be in museums. Mike estimates 20 to 40 originals still in collections and closets.  This SCELBI  has been in our collection 25 years and I purchased it from Robert Forman of Portland, Oregon. Robert purchased the bare boards and built the computer adding his own customs cards you see on the right side of the computer.

Mike Willagel has made clone cards for the SCELBI & some folks have made clone computers from the cards.

Go here for more information about the computer in this blog including a video with close up view of the cards & original purchase receipt   "CLICK".

          David give a little history about his SCELBI Microcomputer

Click on photo to enlarge 
bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Display in museum with SCELBI  Microcomputer 
The SCELBI computer is on the second shelf down - right side, 

Computers in this display case top L-R Superjolt, LSI 11,the Tent card describing the SCELBI and copy of 1974 SCELBI advertisement.

2nd shelf Commodore 128 and SCELBI 8B.

Bottom shelf HP 85 microcomputer & Kaypro lugable computer.

On the top of case is a display of amateur radio publications.

bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
SCELBI computer information

Close up of tent card describing the SCELBI in display case and copy of  First SCELBI advertisement in 1974 OST amateur radio magazine. A copy of the 1974 QST is in our collection.

You can read the tent card information and see the advertisement
Click on the  photo to enlarge and read.

More Reference information about SCELBI Computers.

Mike Willegal's hobby Blog

Build Your Own SCELBI

John Calande - His SCELBI Clone

bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Bell & Howell Apple 2 computer

We have been busy today in the museum. Packed this Bell & Howell Apple 2 for shipment to "Alex's Apple Orchard" Museum collection.

It is not known how many of these computers are in collections however they are becoming rare and collectible.

bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Bell & Howell Apple ll computer

When Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs started to sell the Apple 2 computer - Jobs was not sure he could sell in the educational market and made a deal with Bell & Howell to sell to schools.   Jobs realized very soon he did not need  Bell & Howell and canceled the agreement.

David Larsen
We are having a good time with our "Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum" in Floyd, Virginia. Lots of visitors and nice to have Grayson a doing an Independent Study as graduate student from Virginia Tech (VT).  I taught about using these early microcomputers at VT for 31 years and retired in 1998.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Vintage computers - "iWoz" Steve Wozniak's book by Wozniak & Smith - My comments - a good read

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Anyone having an interest in the Apple Computer company and how it all started will really enjoy this book. Steve's book has been in print for 8 years - if you missed it now is a good time do your read. Their are many reasons for the tremendous success of Apple however it all started with Steve Wozniak
bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Click image to enlarge
designing the Apple 1 microcomputer.  Their were many good breaks as the company developed and sometimes just being in the right place at the right time was a big help. Steve Jobs convinced Wozniak to sell his Apple 1 computer and was the marketing guru that made the company grow to what it is today and those first months of the start up are very interesting.

Did you know that the first partnership of the Apple company included 3 people not just the 2 Steve's. Ron Wayne was in on the  original official founding and actually is the one who wrote the partnership agreement and at that time owned 10 percent of the Apple company? Only 12 days after the partnership Ron dropped out and received about $800 for his interest. CNN story about Ron Wayne.

bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Wozniak as Woz
Steve Wozniak ( Steve often goes by just Woz ) designed the Apple 1 and Apple ll totally on his own and also wrote the initial software monitor and Basic program.  Steve was and is a very smart and clever designer.  Woz wanted to give the plans of the Apple 1 for free and in fact did so at Homebrew Computer Club meetings. Of course without the Apple 1 their would be no Apple Company today.

The first sale made by Steve Jobs was just a few days after the original partnership was signed and he sold 50 Apple 1's to Paul Terrell owner of Byte Shop. It could be that without this sale their would be no Apple Computer Company today.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum, bugbook
Zaltair computer - steve wozniak
 "Zaltair Computer"      A really great practical joke that Steve Wozniak  pulled of at the First West Coast Computer Faire in April 1977.  Steve says in his book "iWoz" that he likes to do practical jokes and have someone else get blamed for doing the joke. In the case of the Zaltair he did a very good job and did not get accused of being the originator of the joke in fact Gary Ingram at Processor Technology was the one accursed of doing the hoax. The hoax was directed toward the Ed Roberts and his Mitts Altair 8800 microcomputer. Steve called his friend Adam Schoolsky to come help with this hoax.

More about the Zaltair.

   Woz with Apple 1
Photo by Dan Sokol
I recommend reading the book to learn in Woz's words about the start up of the Apple company and his own story. It is worth a second read if you like history and these fascinating story's told by Woz. The book "iWoz" published in 2006 and was on the New York Times best seller list.

David Larsen

I had the opportunity to read this book for a second time and I learned many new interesting story's  about Wozniak and the Apple Computer Company - a good read

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Vintage Computer - the first portable computer at 200 lbs - Autonetics Recomp 501 (1958)

                  Click photo to enlarge
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Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Autonetics Recomp 501 digital computer
The Autonetics Recomp 501 is also the very first commercial transistor digital computer. Autonetics computer is now displayed in our museum.  We moved the computer from the warehouse into the museum to help show the time line of computing before the microcomputer revolution.  This computer is serial # 003 & some components in it are date coded 1958 - this may be the earliest transistor digital computer in any a museum.  We are  delighted to have it -- WOW it is small but very heavy - about 200 lbs.

Autonetics Recomp 501 digital computer, bugbook
Autonetics Recomp computer in museum
The computer looks good with all the cards exposed - here it is in the museum.  The size is about 30 inch's high & 40 inch's in length.

It looks like a nice piece of art with all the cards, gold connectors and 1000's of wires connecting the cards.

    David tells about the Autonetics computer he acquired 25 years ago.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Click on photo to enlarge
Bugbook Historical micrcomputer Museum
1958 ad for first 200 lb transistor computer
 This has to be the very first advertisement for a portable computer -about 1958. Look at the photo and see the two fellows carrying this 200 lb computer onto a construction site – WOW what a imagination. This computer is very heavy and these fellows are carrying it like it is only  30 lbs.
Here is some text from the advertisement.

200 lb computer – Portable Digital Computer that can solve your problems where they happen.

It may be a highway construction job --- oil exploration --- and aerial exploration. Where ever your problems happen – in the field – office – or lab.


Here is one side panel with the PC cards. It is built very solid and must have taken a very long time to build by hand.

David Larsen, kk4ww,bugbook,
Autonetics Recomp 501 digital computer

There must be at least 1000 wires in the backplane - all white. Building this computer required lots of Advil. This photo shows only a small part of the wiring.

David Larsen, kk4ww,bugbook,
Autonetics Recomp computer 

Drum memory - looks like the all the registers as well as the data are on this form of memory - ie Accumulator - the instructions were executed serially so this is a very slow computer. 

Autonetics Recomp 501 digital computer

Archive photograph - full operational setup.  This photo takes away the idea that this is a portable computer.

Here is link to another Autonetics computer that I worked on in 1960 and the Recomp computer supplied many ideas for this ICBM computer.

A few references for the seriously interested - a service manual and more.

More photos and information about our Autonetics computer.

Recomp service manual - just in the event you have one and need to get it running.

This list claims the Recomp is the 118th type of digital computer every made

David Larsen
I have had this computer in my collection for 25 years or more and wish I had records of where it came from. I just remember it being in a corner with about 10 or so minicomputers. Most of the minicomputers have gone out to other collectors like Bob Rosenbloom 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Vintage Computer BBC Documentary "iWonder - History of Computing Timeline" using some Bugbook Computer Museum Video Clips

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David Larsen & Apple 1
David Larsen & Apple 1
Several months ago I was contacted about using parts of my Apple 1 computer videos for the BBC program - "iWonder - History of Computing Timeline".  I don't know the schedule
of the program however I am delighted they chose to use some of my Apple 1 computer Video for the program.

Click on image to enlarge
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
BBC none exclusive use

Release and permission form to use our material. A simple use of our material however always nice to have some of the work done by our group used.

Earlier BBC documentary "Steve Jobs: Billion Dollar Hippy". BBC used some clips of my Apple one computer in this documentary as well at 11 minutes 50 seconds into the film. I watched this production again and noticed our group got a thank you in the credits as the LCF Group.

David Larsen

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Vintage Computer - Super Jolt a 1975 microcomputer using the 6502 Microcomputer

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Super Jolt Computer
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The Jolt computer used the 6502 microprocessor and was somewhat advanced in 1975. This is before the Apple 1 or Apple ll and the same year as the Altair 8800 microcomputer. The Altair 8800 sold for $395 in kit from with no software and a very small memory. The Jolt came with a monitor debugger program called Demon and had an interface for the Teletype (RS232 20 MA current loop). The wired unit sold for $348 and kit $249.  Accessory cards were also available like the 4kb RAM memory card for $320. However the computer never became very popular.

Click on image to enlarge and read.
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Jolt full page advertisement

The Jolt microcomputer was released in 1975 by Microcomputer Associates. The company was founded by Ray Holt and Manny Lemas.  The company was later acquired by Synertek, a second source manufacturer of the 6502, and renamed Synertek Systems. Synertek went on to produce the popular SYM-1 microcomputer. Ray Holt did some early microprocessor development work for use in the F-14 Tomcat aircraft.  This work was classified and Ray's design work during the period 1968 to 1970 may have been the very first microprocessor chip set .

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Super Jolt Computer

The Super Jolt computer is on display in our "Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum"  located in Floyd , Virginia. The computer card is setting on top of original box from Jolt. I don't remember just when or who I received the computer from & the box also has a SYM-1 in it. Microcomputer Associates/Synertek produced these computers - this was a nice addition to our collection with 2 new and never used microcomputers.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Super Jolt Microcomputer CPU section

CPU section of the Super Jolt Microcomputer.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Memory Section - Super Jolt

The Super Jolt has more memory the the first Jolt.

David Larsen

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
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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.                                                          

Grayson Van Beuren tells about his Independent Study at the museum

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.

"CLICK" image to enlarge
Howard W Sams Catalog with

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

"CLICK image to enlarge
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
E and L Catalog

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

  "CLICK" on photo to enlarge 
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.