Columbia Computing History Site Frequently Asked Questions

There is no computing history museum at Columbia University, no collection of old machines, artifacts, or even papers. As far as I know, I'm the only one here who has any interest in the history of computing, and I don't have space to keep very much. I have a fair amount of old manuals and books, some CRT terminals of 1970s and 80s vintage, and assorted small items, nothing much to speak of. Although Columbia has been home to computing equipment (and persons) of great historical significance, there was never any effort to preserve any trace of it until 2011, when the Columbia Archive accepted 20 boxes of material from me (and previously, about 2007 I think, also the material of the former Director of Academic Computing at Columbia, Vace Kundakci). As of 1 July 2011 I am no longer at Columbia.

Can I have permission to use a photo from your site?
Photos used on the Columbia University Computing History website come from many sources. I have made every attempt to indicate the source of each photo. Most of the photos of IBM equipment are from IBM manuals or publications, unless otherwise attributed. I do not know to whom at IBM to refer you to obtain permission to use IBM photos. Permission to use photos from the Columbia University Archives (Columbiana), such as those in THIS AREA, must be obtained from the University Archives; CLICK HERE to begin. In other cases, when a photo is not attributed, it usually means I found it in a Google Image Search at a site that gives no information about it, or the site disappeared but the photo was cached at Google. Many photos are scanned from books, magazines, journal articles, and computer manuals. In these cases, a citation is given. Some photos were taken by me, or by other people who have contributed their own photos. This too is indicated. I do not have the authority to give permission to use any photos that you might find at this site, except the ones I took myself. If a credit is given for the photo you're interested in, you'll need to track down the owner of the photo (e.g. the publisher of a manual, book, or journal). If no credit is given, you can use it at your own risk.

Do you have a high resolution version of such-and-such a photo?
In most cases no. With very few exceptions, the images were scanned from dot-screen figures in books and journal articles, or else obtained from some other source in exactly the form that you see them.

Where can I find a working (Teletype, IBM 407, IBM 650...)?
Beats me! I get these questions all the time, and if I ever find an answer, I'll post here. Meanwhile your best bet (in the USA at least) is to contact the Computer History Museum (see next item); they might have some leads. I suspect that there is a cache of old IBM equipment somewhere, because occasionally we see it in movies such as Infinity (1996).

I have an old (Teletype, key punch...) I'd like to donate...
I'd suggest that you consider the Computer History Museum:

http://computerhistory.org/

Where can I get parts for my Electro-Brain 9000?
I don't know. Try posting a query to alt.folklore.computers

How do I make this old machine work again?
I don't know. Try posting a query to alt.folklore.computers, or to a more specific group if one exists, e.g. alt.sys.pdpd11,

How much is this old computing artifact worth?
I don't know. Try selling it on E-Bay. You might also want contact the Computer History Museum to see if they'd like to receive it as a donated artifact.

Last Updated: Sun Jun 5 13:35:52 2011


Frank da Cruz / fdc@columbia.edu / Columbia University Computing History