4.091 quarter day, yosemite

Thursday 03/02/2023

Notice the .091? There are 365 days in a year, and one quarter of that is 91 (and a fraction, duh). One-fourth of a year gone! (This blog’s year started on December 3.)

After the usual tidy-up so the apartment wouldn’t look like a dump to the cleaning lady, I headed off to the Yosemite warehouse for a day of artifact work. Aurora, the curator, was a little distracted today because after lunch she had a visitor, a woman who is currently in charge of the collection at the Hiller Aviation Museum. In exchange for showing her around, Aurora hopes that she (and possibly some of us volunteers) will get a tour of the restoration shop at Hiller. We’ll see.

The actual artifact work today involved the ECHO IV, the first actual “home” computer. The problem was, one of the curators had noticed that the collection included about 100 nearly identical circuit cards all titled “ECHO IV Module”. Here’s one example. That curator was aware that there was also a complete cabinet named ECHO IV, and was concerned that maybe we had pulled all the circuit cards out of it?

But when Aurora found a cabinet labeled “ECHO IV cabinet” the modules in it didn’t look like those, and was at a loss. Here was where I got to shine, because I was there when we cataloged the ECHO IV. A little searching on my phone and I found the pics I had taken at the time, which turned out to be: August 2015! And I knew for a fact there was a different cabinet, one that was packed with plenty of those circuit modules. Where was it? Aurora couldn’t find it in the catalog system.

So I spent some time walking around the warehouse craning my neck to look up into the pallet racking trying to spot it. In the end another volunteer, Allen Baum, spotted it. Once we knew the location it was easy to find it in the catalog, I still don’t know why it hadn’t turned up in the initial searches. With all the info in hand, I made a couple of corrections to the catalog records so things were linked to each other better.

Then I remembered that I had actually written an article about the ECHO IV at the time (here it is). Plus I had found other source material like an article in Popular Mechanics, and one in BYTE, and it turns out that CHM actually has a video of James Sutherland describing how he built this first-ever in-home computer on the CHM YouTube channel (skip to about 18:00 to get to the interesting stuff).

So I spent a couple of hours re-finding all these sources online and putting together a list for Aurora. Leaving it to her to figure out which and how to integrate those into the catalog record.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s