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

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Computer Museum a look inside with Assistant Student Curator

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Bugbook historical microcomputer museum
Bryan Dowd - Assistant Museum Curtor
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Bryan C. Dowd amateur radio operator KG4ZKA is a big help as assistant student curator in our museum. Bryan has an interest in computers & history and these vintage computers are fun for him work with. He welcomes visitors and gives them a full tour of our museum and helps them with our active vintage gaming stations. We have several Commodore 64's and other vintage games.

Bryan's experience as curator & look inside museum -short Video

Bugbook historical microcomputer museum
Apple-1 display

Bryan greets visitors from his desk at the front door - gives them a first class tour including demonstrating the operational Apple-1 software.

Bugbook historical microcomputer museum
Vintage computer display

We have a PDP-11 minicomputer - next to Bryan - The minicomputer is used (cost as much as a house in early 70's) to tell why there was such an interest the low first cost microcomputers like the MITS Altair 8800 (January 1975).  When Ed Roberts put his Altair on the market in January 1975 he told the banker 500 sales were likely. The demand for his simple $400 Altair exceded 4000 in a few months.

Bugbook historical microcomputer museum
Byran and PDP11 Mini Computer
A different view of the museum from the other side of the PDP - 11 minicomputer. Just to the left of Bryan is an ASR 33 teletype and this is always of interest. I don't remember what these sold for in those days but it seems like it was about $2000 - Just today hp printers were on sale for $59.  So many stories and comparisons to tell our visitor about --- where & when the microcomputer revolution compared to today. Moore's Law continues to work just fine with technology leaping ahead at warp speed.

Bugbook historical microcomputer museum
Visitor at Gaming Station

One of our visitors fascinated with active vintage gaming stations. During the Fall of 2014 graduate student Grayson Van Beuren studied and did research in the museum as a "Graduate Independent Study Program".  One of Grayson's projects was setting up the gaming computer stations.

Bugbook historical microcomputer museum
Vintage Amateur Radio's

We have the active amateur radio station N4USA in the museum. Our displays include the story of electronics and amateur radio communications from the Crystal Radio days of the early 1900's to the present day.

Bugbook historical microcomputer museum
N4USA amateur radio station

Amateur Radio station N4USA is part of the "Foundation for Amateur International Radio Service"  (FAIRS) -- a non profit foundation with the mission statement of "International Good Will Through Amateur Radio" . The LCF Group has been directing the activities for FAIRS for 22 years with projects in many countries. The "LCF Group" consists of myself David Larsen KK4WW, Gaynell Larsen KK4WWW & Dee Wallace KG4VMI. Station location is in the "Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum" 

Bugbook historical microcomputer museum
Bryan Dowd , Computer Warehouse

Bryan visits the computer warehouse where David Larsen's 40 years of collecting microcomputers are stored. The inventory is cataloged and packed tightly on shelves. All the inventory is marked, entered into our museum database (Past Perfect Software). The location of each item is part of the database making it easy to locate one of the approximately 10,000 items.

Bugbook historical microcomputer museum
Computer Museum Lounge 

The museum has a small lounge area for guest. This is great place for personal networking and relaxing.

David Larsen
We are all pleased to have Bryan helping with our computer collection and in the museum as assistant curator. He is doing a great job and learning real fast to tell the stories of  vintage computers.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Vintage Soviet Computer from Ulyanvosk Russia 1991

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Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Soviet Flag
My wife and I were fortunate to travel in the old Soviet Union before it broke up in mid 1991.These visits were for two purposes - To teach about computer automation to deliver donated computers to people in Russia and Ukraine. We were able to obtain both Ukraine and
Russian amateur radio license's and operated Ham Radio with contacts made from Lviv, Ukraine, and Moscow & Ulyanovsk, Russia.  We were representing "Virginia Tech" (VT) for teaching and "The Foundation For Amateur International Radio Service" (FAIRS) for the radio activities.We had to get approval from the US Department of State for all our computer teaching and donating computers. That was an interesting exercise with lots of forms -- it did work out just fine and we made 20 or so more visits after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

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Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Soviet Microcomputer 
The president of Ulyanovsk Polytechnic Institute (UPI) "Vladimir Efimov" gave me this computer during our first visit when we signed an exchange agreement with his Institute and Virginia Tech.  This exchange agreement resulted in a number of faculty visits between VT and UPI. Valdimir made one of these trips with some of his faculty members and not only visited VT but they all came out to our house for dinner one evening.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Soviet Microcomputer 
Here is the bottom view with the IC's showing. I did not know much about this computer however when I posted the video Ed S send a message that this is a clone. Here is his information

Ed S- It's a Delta-S (Дельта-С) a Spectrum clone - the multi-function keys are characteristic of the Spectrum keyboard. In this case there's an additional mapping, of Cyrillic characters. Therefore not precisely a clone, but an adaptation. Some photos:
Wiki page:Дельта-С     Thank you Ed for the information.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Soviet Microcomputer 

The processor is a Z80 from Sharp.

A video of this computer with a look inside "CLICK"

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Soviet Microcomputer 

The input / output is mostly some Din looking connectors on the back of computer.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Soviet Microcomputer 

The Keyboard  is a combination of English &  Russian  in Cyrillic.

More activities during this visit. 
This visit lasted 3 weeks and our group carried about 50 personal computers to donate to the Soviet people.

I wrote a letter to Soviet President Gorbachev in November 1990 ( this was about 6 months before this visit). I did not know if this would help however it opened many doors for us with response from various parts of the Soviet Politburo.
Click on Letter to enlarge for reading
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Soviet Letter

Deputy Chairman of USSR State Committee for Public Education.
This letter is giving us the go ahead for our University exchanges.

All the letters from officials in the Soviet Union referenced our letter to President Gorbachev.  It was reported that my letter made a good buzz  in the Kremlin.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Continuing Education Unit for Soviet Union

We may have been the first to issue CEU's by an American University to Soviet participants. The office of International Development at Virginia Tech was a real supporter of this work.

This work helped me receive this nice award before retiring from VT .

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Krinkle Central Radio Club , Moscow
Our Group was one of the last from the West to Visit the Krinkle Central Radio Club (QSL Box 88) Moscow.  QSL Box 88 disappeared at the break up of the Soviet Union.

You see in this photo Yuri Zubarev, President of Radio Sport Federation ( Krinkle Central Radio Club) seated. He gave us many gifts including a beautiful Samovar ( used to heat water for Tea). I have this on display in my office - very nice.
R-L W6YMR, Me KK4WW, Yuri, N0ISL.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Letter from Radio Sport Federation

The letter from Yuri Zubarev - you will see this is the letter giving us assistance to get the donated computers into the Soviet Union.

With Soviet President Gorbachev putting out the word to help our group we were treated very well in all efforts during this visit.

If you made it this far you have a lot of patience and here is a summery of the trip. 

David KK4WW and Gaynell KK4WWW Larsen make their second visit to the former Soviet Union. This time additional travelers join them  they include John Douglas N0ISL, Bob Friebershauser W6YMR and his wife Virginia.  The group visited Lviv  Ukraine and Ulyanovsk Russia. Computer workshops were taught in both locations and many amateur radio contacts were also made from Ukraine and Russia. This trip also included a visit to the well known "Box 88" Krinkle Central Radio Club in Moscow.  Box 88 and the club vanished after the break up of the USSR just 3 months after our visit.

W6YMR and N0ISL are now silent keys ( passed to the other side)

Here is a podcast recording with comments by David and Gaynell Larsen about visit that was so exciting and interesting for us. We still talk about this visit 25 years later,

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
David Larsen
 Just a message - Don't sell yourself short - Think of what you really want and ignore all the people that say "It can't be done".

This Soviet mission is one of many great experiences my wife have had the privilege of sharing.   
                  ."by David Larsen"  KK4WW Computer Collector Historian 
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Google map and view of Ulyanovsk, Russia

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Computers and Ham Radio provided invitation to Bangladesh Embassay in Beijing, China

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Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Bangladesh Ambassador to China - Left
Dinner at the Embassy in China ! 1995 
Here is the Bangladesh Ambassador and his wife to China in the Beijing Embassy. I sure wish I had made more photos. We had dinner with these two and my wife at the embassy. The dining room the table was about 40 feet long and could have seated at least 100 folks. The four of us just used a a little part at one end. The food was some good Asian with lots of curry.

We were in China with 19 students from Virginia Tech visiting for about 4 weeks. This was a great trip and we put on several thousand miles from North to South in China.

Our meeting and dinner lasted about 3 hours and the conversation with the Ambassador and his wife was just great. Beijing was our first stop during our China visit and the ambassador gave us a great understanding  about the  current China.

The Students traveling with us had no idea where we went for dinner. Returning to our hotel it was useless to tell them "Oh we just had dinner over at the Bangladesh Embassy with the Ambassador and his wife" of course they did not believe a word of it. We did not have digital camera's to tell the instant story in those days.

This was one of those WOW moments and my wife and I still talk about what a great experience we had.

How computers and ham radio made this trip possible - My ham radio  and work with computers & scientific instrumentation made my faculty position at at Virginia Tech a reality. The trip to China was a Virginia Tech (VT) venture put together by VT Professor Jim Littlefield. My wife and I joined his group for the visit to China.


Here is a bit of my history that made the meeting and dinner with the Ambassador in Beijing a reality!

Amateur Radio began for me in 1954 at 15 years old with the call W7VZW.  A few years later in 1957 at 19 years old the Navy sent me to school at "Remington Rand Univac" to be a technician on a
very large secret computer  project at the War College in Norfolk, VA. The only reason I received this opportunity was I was a Ham Radio fellow with an excellent knowledge of electronics. Only about 12  in the whole Navy were part of this project as technicians.

Years later in 1992 I arranged an Amateur Radio  DXpedition to Dhaka, Bangladesh with the help of Dr. Toufiq Ali the Deputy Chief of Mission at the Bangladesh Embassy in Washington DC.  Over the next few years Toufiq and I became very good friends and one day I mentioned to him our planned trip to China. His reply was "Oh that is great I will call my friend who is the Bangladesh Ambassador in Beijing and have you meet him".  I thanked Tofig but really did not take it to seriously --- however when my wife and I arrived in Beijing I called the Ambassador and indeed he said " Oh Tofig told me you would call can you come over to the Embassy for dinner" . WOW that got my interest real fast and plans were made for that night.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Computer class 1957 Univac
This computer experience started a long and wonderful career for me and it is still getting better at 76 years. 
Ham radio experience and learning was good  enough to get me to school at Remington Rand Univac. I was just a kid in 1957 - 19 years old and just graduated from high school.  This was my first experience with computers.

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Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
David Larsen in Computer class 1957

That's me in center back with big dark glasses. I was the youngest and a 3rd Class Petty Officer among commissioned officers and Chief's.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
S21 QSL Card Bangladesh
DXpedittion to Bangladesh.
I arranged a group of 2 Ukrainian's, 3 Russian's, and 3 Americans for this expedition in 1992.  Dr. Toufiq Ali at the Bangladesh Embassy in in Washington DC helped make this trip possible. It took more then a year to put in place.

Dr. Toufiq Ali is the one who made the call to China and arranged our meeting at the Bangladesh Embassy in Beijing.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
S21 QSL Card Bangladesh
Details of Ham Radio DXpedition can be read on back of this QSL card. Click on photo to enlarge. We made about 25,000 radio contacts on this visit. My license in Bangladesh was S21Z and my wife was S21ZH.  Only about five licensed amateur operator's in all of Bangladesh at this time so we were some of the first foreigners to get a Bangladesh license.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Bangladesh UR5WA KK4WWW S21ZH
Bangladesh 1992.
The lady on left is Helen Gonchasky (UR5WA and KB0KNC) - We first met her in Ukraine in October of 1990. WOW -- and still friends. FAIRS is sponsoring her visit to Headquarters in Floyd, VA this May for a 30 day visit. The good looking lady in the middle is my wife Gaynell (KK4WWW, UB5WMV and S21ZH). The banner in the background indicates our banquet with the communications minister of Bangladesh - great time.

Helen will be here this May 2015 and Also with us at the Dayton Hamvention in Dayton,OH.  If you hams are in Dayton come by booth 412 and say hi to Gaynell and Helen. Manju S21AM - he is in the photo above will be at Hamvention with us this year - other joining FAIRS at the show 8R1AK, VE3DX, W4VZH hope to see you there!
Other adventures during the China visit.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Chinese license KK4WW
While in China I was able to operate some ham radio with this Chinese Amateur Radio license. Mr. Chin Pin who was in charge of amateur radio in China had our license waiting for us in Beijing.  I met with Mr. Pin a few month earlier at the Dayton Hamvention.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Chinese license KK4WW

Backside of Chinese ham radio license

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Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
David KK4WW operating By1QH China

Here I am operating amateur radio station  BY1QH at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

I was also honored to give a lecture to about 200 students at Tsinghua University  about the international advantages of amateur radio. That was exciting.

Why write about these adventures ?  I want young people to know not to limit your thinking and about the opportunities than you can create for yourself. Every skill you have like HAM RADIO can open many doors to great adventure.

Here is just a few more adventure my wife and I had the pleasure of enjoying.

-- Visit to Guyana South America at the personal invitation of  Dr. Cheddi Jagan the President of Guyana. We even lived in his guest house during our first visit. I will write about this adventure as it also included computers and amateur radio.

---President George Bush 41 and his State Department Staff helped in many ways with our visits to the Soviet Union in the 90's. We even received a $25,000 grant from the US Department of International Aid (USAID) to help with out Soviet Work. Check out this adventure "CLICK"

----We operated amateur radio from the Bangladesh and Guyana Embassies in Washington D C as a result of our contact with the officials from these countries. We are still good friends with Peter Denny in Guyana 8R1WD ( Peter was the Guyana Ambassador to  Russia for 7 years in the 90's & in China one year) and have radio contact 3 times a week. Peter arranged for our operation in the Guyana embassy in Washington DC many years ago.

--- The list of great and exciting adventures during my 76 years have been more than I could ever imagine -- just great and they have not ended yet. Take a look at one more in Soviet Union a video.

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
David Larsen
The message is think positive and think big and don't ask for something if you don't want it because you will most likely get what you ask for.

                  ."by David Larsen"  KK4WW Computer Collector Historian   
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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Jon Titus - Computer Pioneer comments about 3 of his mentors

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Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Jon Titus

(From Design News November 2013During my several careers I had the good fortune to learn from three mentors, and as I wrap up my career, they deserve mention. I hope you have had equally good fortune to work for and with such good people.

"When I got to grad school, I met David Larsen, who taught an 'electronics for scientists' class at Virginia Tech. We hit it off right away, and a few years later Dave helped several of us start a company that created educational electronic hardware and books for people interested in computers and electronics. Dave showed us new ways to approach business, gave us encouragement, and suggested helpful marketing ideas. I learned a lot about how to work with people, how to communicate well, how to conduct business fairly, and how to carefully evaluate business opportunities. He might not realize how much I learned from him and how I still enjoy our friendship. Now Dave promotes amateur radio for personal and emergency communications in the Republic of Dominica through his FAIRS charity based in Floyd, Virginia."

The other two mentors Jon mention as his good fortune to work with are his eighth grade science with John Shuttleworth & Roy Forsberg was the editorial director of EDN magazine. 

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Design News
Read the entire editorial Jon wrote as his  last in a long series of columns for Design News at retirement in November 2013.  The information above  is quoted directly from the editorial in Design News 11/27/2013.


I have always had a great respect for Jon Titus and the 10 years we worked together in the "Blacksburg Group" were some the most rewarding during my 31 year career as a faculty member at Virginia Tech. Thank you Jon - for the friendship and wonderful memories - Dave Larsen

Jon's contribution's to the Blacksburg Group were many and I have written about some of them here in my blog. A few of his contributions are ....

MMD-1 Vintage 8080 Microcomputer reported to be the First Single Board Computer

Vintage Computer - WHAT inspired Titus to design the "MARK 8" Computer ?

Vintage Computer Collector Memorabilia - Titus 8080 Microprocessor  Slide Rule

Vintage Computer MARK 8 - 40 year Anniversary July 2014 - Start of something Big

Vintage Computer MARK 8 sent to MARCH in Wall NJ

Microcomputer - Micro-Designer MD-80 one of the first complete educational / design Microcomputer Systems

Vintage Computer - Earles L McCaul - Author - A personal success story the last 32 years

David Larsen
I  retired from Virginia Tech 17 years ago as a faculty member in the Chemistry Department - it  seems like it was yesterday. I have many fond memories of jobs, projects, family and friends. It has been said  you can't look back but that seems simplistic to me - my computer museum is all about looking at the past - .  at 76 I don't think old and fortunately I don't even feel old - the past memories keep me looking forward and wondering what interesting and fun thing will be next. For sure this Christmas with my wife, children, grandkids & great grandkids gathering at our house was just wonderful.  I counted 28 for dinner last Friday and still today at least 6  in the house today 4 days after Christmas. WOW!!!    
                            ."by David Larsen"  KK4WW Computer Collector Historian   
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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Apple-1 computer proof documents sell $25,000 at Christie's Auction

Ron Wayne sells his Apple-1 proof documents for $25,000.
Bob Luther's Apple-1 computer sells for $365,000.
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Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Ron Wayne, Apple co-founder
Ron Wayne owned 10% of  the Apple Computer Company (April 1,1976) and was co -founder with Steve Jobs & Steve Wozniak.  Ron contributed his business & engineering skills however when the Apple needed to borrow money to build the first 50 Apple-1 computers he did not feel comfortable with his part of the debt responsibility.  Ron Sold his interest in the Apple partnership for about $800 only 12 days after the formation of the partnership.  Ron  was a creative designer and continued his design work after selling his interest including the original Apple logo and schematic  drawings for Apple.

The story of Ron's involvement in  Apple Computer is not well known however their have been some interesting turns of fortune for him.  The 10 % ownership Ron had for 11 days would now be worth about $30 Billion - that is with a B.

Ron was the business guy for Apple and wrote the original partnership agreement between Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and himself.  Copiers were not common then and 3 original copies with all 3 signatures were made.  Ron kept his copy of the contract  in a personal file for years and sold it  in the 90's to a signature collector for $500. That same contract sold December 13th, 2011 for $1.6 million to Eduardo Cisneros at a Sotheby’s auction in New York.

                                                                                                      Click image to enlarge
Bugbook Historical microcomputer museum
Montage of Ron's Documents - Credit Christie's

Ron had a personal file of proofs he helped create at Apple inc. and decided now was the time to make a sale with  interest in Apple is at an all time high.

Mr. Wayne owned the documents that sold today in his collection and did very well at Christie's auction for $25,000. Today was a good day for Ron Wayne.
Learn more about Ron Wayne

Ron's Facebook Page     His Web Site    Twitter  Wikipedia  Story in Computer World

Ron 's early days in the formation of the Apple Computer Company. Video

Ron's book "Adventures of an Apple Founder" at Amazon

I am reading the book now and find it an interesting read - Dave

David Larsen
This was a great auction for Ron Wayne finally getting a good price for his Apple memorabilia 

Apple-1 computer sale $365,000 at Christie's Auction December 11,2014

Apple-1 computer sold for $365,000 at Christie's Auction today.    

Apple 1 sold at Christie's - credit Christie's
The Bob Luther had the only surviving Apple-1 Computer to come with proof that it was personally sold by Steve Jobs sold at Christie's  auction.  The sale included a canceled check made out to 'Apple Computer' in July 1976 for the $600 purchase price. Christie's Auction estimated its value to be between $400,000 and $600,000. The Apple-1 was originally the property of Charles Rickett's, who wrote the check to Apple for $600, along with the words "Purchased 1976 from Steve Jobs in his parents' garage in Los Altos."  This example is the only known surviving Apple-1 documented to have been sold directly by Steve Jobs.

More info about the Christie's Auction 

Bob Luther purchased Charles Rickett's Apple-1 at a Sheriffs sale in December 2004. Bob relates how he read about the sale in a tiny classified ad for an auction in the Washington Post in his book "the first Apple".

Video of this Apple-1 

The Apple-1 computer was designed by Steve Wozniak - Only 200 were manufactured and sold in 1976/77. About 60 are known to still exist in museums and private collections. The previous sale of   Apple 1 computer was in  October of this year at Bonhams Auction  for $905,000. The Henry Ford organization was the buyer at the Bonhams Auction (reported Reuters) , which plans to display the computer in its museum in Dearborn, Michigan.The Auction Team Breker sold and Apple 1 May 25th 2013 for $671,400. Information about other Apple 1 computer sales "CLICK".

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Apple 1 computer 
The Apple 1 was not very popular because it was only a computer-on-a-board and the user had to add a keyboard, power transformers, &  display. Steve Wozniak realized he needed a more user friendly computer & started to design the Apple-ll before all the Apple-1's were sold.  The Apple Company took  the Apple-1 computers as a trade in for the much better Apple ll .

Steve Jobs sold his VW and Steve Wozniak sold his HP calculator to start their Apple business.The Apple Company may not have succeed if Steve Jobs had not been successful in selling the first 50 Apple-1 computers to Paul Terrell for his Byte Shop computer stores. This $25,000 sale was the financing needed to get Apple started. It was not easy for the Steve's to interest investors to provide start up funds. One person approached was Stan Veit owner of the first computer store on the East Coast.  Jobs offered a 10 percent ownership of the Apple Company if Stan would invest $10,000. Stan turned the offer down with the idea that his money was better used in his own "Computer Mart" in New York. The interesting stories about the Apple-1 and the start of the Apple company by Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs are endless & the "Apple-1 computer" started what is now one of the most successful businesses in the world.  
More Apple-1 computer news
Ron Wayne's Apple computer proof documents sold for $25,000 today at Christie's.

David Larsen.

The Apple-1 computer continues to bring big prices and is  a unique microcomputer . Bob Luther says he may use the funds to purchase an original 1964 Chevrolet Corvette to add to his antique car colletion.

"by David Larsen"  KK4WW Computer Collector Historian   

Saturday, December 6, 2014

American Radio & Computer History - Two million pages of AM FM & TV Broadcasting history online

Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
David Gleason in early days - credit his web site
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David Gleason's web site is loaded with pdf's of hundreds of radio magazines that had early microcomputer related articles including Radio Eletronics, Popular Electronics and other consumer electronics magazines - a real wealth of information. David estimates he has two million pages on line.  I have looked at several locations on his site and found it very useful for history buffs for a variety of  electronic topics. The listing are radio related however computer historians will find  Byte Magazine .
Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum
Byte Magazine issue #1

David had impressive career in radio broadcasting and you can see this in his "David Gleason on the Web" . I wonder how Gleason was able to scan all these pages - someone must have burned a lot of 'midnight oil'.   The research David has done on his own family is fascinating reading going back to at least 1800.

A very big project to assemble all this data on a web site - for everyone  interested in radio history his work is available in an easy to navigate format. Have fun using David Gleason's 2,000,000 pages of radio history.

David Larsen
The American Radio History site is loaded with information and I have added it to my "microcomputer history and web sites and blogs" reference list of computer historical information.