Highlights of the museum

The earliest documents written on clay tablets in cuneiform script were used for tax and accounting purposes. Records were kept of the bread rations paid to workers, for example. The precise history is not known. About 2350-2100 BC
Wilhelm Schickard wanted to “mechanise” the laborious and error-prone task of calculating astronomical tables. In 1623 he had two calculating machines built to his specifications in a mechanic’s workshop in Tübingen – one for himself, the other for Johannes Kepler. The practical benefits of his “calculating clock” appeared somewhat dubious at the time, as the system based on logarithmic tables was superior. Regrettably, both machines were destroyed in a fire at the workshop and the invention was forgotten. This reconstruction of the machine by Baron von Freytag Löringhoff was completed in 1957. Date of manufacture: 1957
In 1678, French watchmaker René Grillet presented the “Machine arithmétique” which was capable of carrying out all four basic arithmetic operations. Constructed largely out of paper, the invention used so-called Napier’s rods that had been around since 1617 for the calculation process. It is an excellent example of the early days of mechanical calculation and an ancestor of today’s pocket calculator. Date of manufacture: 1678
This calculating machine, invented by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, was built in the years from 1690 to 1720. It represents a historic milestone in the development of mechanical calculating machines because it was the first to perform all four arithmetic operations. Leibniz's operating mechanism, known as the stepped cylinder or Leibniz wheel, allowed multiplication to be performed mechanically and remained an indispensable component of mechanical calculators for over 200 years. Functioning replica of the only remaining original (at the Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek in Hanover), built to plans by N. Joachim Lehmann. HNF replica: 1995
The device popularly known as the “Chess Turk“ was built in 1769 by Austrian court official Wolfgang von Kempelen in such a way as to convince spectators that they were watching an “automated chess player“. In fact an individual of quite normal size sat inside and controlled the gripper arm with the aid of levers and cable winches. Magnetised chess pieces and small magnetic pins on the underside of the board enabled the moves to be followed by the person within. Functional HNF replica: 2004
An Arithmometer is a mechanical calculating machine invented by the Frenchman Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar (1785-1870). It was the world's first calculating machine to go into series production. As well as addition and subtraction, it could perform multiplication and division by means of repeated addition and subtraction. This luxury version of the calculating machine was a gift to the king of Portugal. Date of manufacture: about 1855
The Hansen Writing Ball was the world's first typewriter to be produced commercially, albeit in small batches. It was developed in 1865 by Rasmus Johann Malling-Hansen, a Danish pastor and teacher of deaf-mutes. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a well-known user. Date of manufacture: about 1878
The name Morse and the code of the same name became synonymous with telegraphy. His procedure for transmitting text information via a series of pulses (dots and dashes) and the silences between them helped the technology achieve a breakthrough. The most important components of the Ericsson Morse Telegraph Type TA 100 for receiving messages (“sounder”) are an electromagnet, an armature, a mechanical clockwork to move the paper tape, a coloured stylus and a roll of paper. A Morse key is required to transmit messages. Date of manufacture: about 1880
In 1883, Englishman Joseph Edmondson obtained a patent for a circular calculating machine based on the stepped-drum mechanism. His design was based on Thomas de Colmar’s simple “arithmomètre”. The advantage of Edmondson’s machine was that it was not limited to a certain number of decimal places if a division produced a remainder. Date of manufacture: about 1885
This machine is a replica of the first Hollerith machine that was used so successfully to complete the first census in the USA thanks to the use of punched cards. It provided a much faster way of counting the vast amount of data gathered. The Hollerith machine consists of two hinged plates, a switch panel with relays, a counting device with 40 counters and a sorting box. When one of the pins on the plates meets a hole in the punched card, a circuit is completed and an electric pulse causes the pointer of a counter to advance accordingly. The respective compartment of the sorting box is also opened, and the operator can place the analysed punched card into it by hand. Functional HNF replica: 2006
The comptometer was the first exclusively key-driven mechanical calculator. The “wooden box” was a precursor to the full-keyboard adding machines built between 1886 and 1904. According to its manufacturer’s promotional material, it was the world’s first adding machine with a practical application. Date of manufacture: about 1900
The Underwood No. 5, which appeared in 1900, was the first classic modern typewriter (with visible text, upper- and lower-case letters and tab stops). It set the standard for all subsequent typewriters worldwide until they were superseded first by IBM electric typewriters, which used a type ball instead of type bars, and then by PCs. Date of manufacture: 1915
This extremely compact table-top telephone with a quirky design was also known as the “Pferdefuss” or “horse’s hoof” in Bavaria due to its shape. It was the approved standard dialling apparatus only in Bavaria. Incidentally, the device was referred to as the “cow’s hoof” in Prussia. Date of manufacture: from 1925 onwards
In 1879 the Ritty brothers filed a patent application for the first cash register in the USA. Businessman John H. Patterson acquired the rights to manufacture cash registers in 1884 and founded the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio. The NCR 400 series models were among the standard cash registers in use at the time. They were favoured by retail outlets because of their robust nature. Model 422 has five rows of keys and features 42 keys in all. The indicators are in English and show sums of pounds and pence. Date of manufacture: 1910
The Kryha Liliput is a very rare cipher machine in pocket-watch format. The machine consisted of two concentric rings, each featuring an alphabet and numbers. The user would operate it by pushing a lever to step the inner ring a random number of places against the outer ring, thereby changing the relationship between the two. Although Kryha’s devices were a commercial success, they were cryptographically weak as the period lengths of the codes were generally quite short. The Kryha Liliput was cryptographically compatible with its “big sister”, the Kryha Standard. Date of manufacture: about 1926
The legendary Enigma cipher machine was developed in the early 1920s by the German engineer Artur Scherbius in Berlin and initially marketed for commercial purposes. The machine has three rotors, each of which performs an alphabetic substitution cipher. By combining the rotors in series and using a plugboard with variable wiring, very complex scrambling of the message can be achieved. Date of manufacture: about 1942
The T52 e was a World War II German cipher machine and teleprinter. Due to its size and weight, however, it was only ever used as a stationary device. Unlike the Enigma, messages were encrypted and deciphered automatically. On 20 July 1944, the resistance group led by Claus von Stauffenberg used the device to issue encrypted commands for Operation Valkyrie, the plot to assassinate Hitler. Date of manufacture: 1942
The first functioning electronic computer consisted of 40 panels with almost 18,000 vacuum tubes. J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly were commissioned to construct a vacuum-tube computer by the US Army in 1943. ENIAC, which was 1,000 times faster than other calculating machines, was developed by the young scientists at the Moore School of Electronics in Philadelphia. It required just eight hours to perform calculations that had previously taken an entire year. The high processing capacity was needed by the US Army to calculate artillery firing tables. Mauchly wanted to use ENIAC’s speed to produce more accurate weather forecasts, which is why its inventors built a “universal machine“. Date of manufacture: 1946
The history of IBM in Germany dates back to 1910, with the founding of DEHOMAG (Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH) in Berlin. The company was renamed IBM Deutschland GmbH in 1949, when it relocated to Böblingen. The D 11 tabulator, which was manufactured from 1935 onwards, was the first German machine of its kind. Used for punched card analysis, its ability to read, count, compute and print cards made it the mainstay of many so-called Hollerith departments. The machine proved a milestone in the development of punched card technology: It was on sale until 1960, latterly as the IBM D11 Type 450. Around 1,100 D 11 models were sold in all. Date of manufacture: between 1949 and 1960
In the early days of telephony, calls were connected manually by a switchboard operator . The next stage of development saw the introduction of automatic telephone exchanges which dispensed with the need for human intervention. A local telephone exchange establishes connections between the subscribers of a local network. In this case, an analogue electrical signal is switched via electromechanical components. If the first digit dialled by the subscriber is a zero, he or she is put through to the trunk or long-distance exchange. The electromechanical system exhibited here was in use in Hagen-Eilpe until 1994, when it was replaced by a digital switching system.
The W48 desktop telephone was developed for the Deutsche Bundespost by Siemens & Halske in 1948 in the western zone of occupied Germany and produced in very large quantities. Date of manufacture: 1954
This is the first computer developed by Heinz Nixdorf. He started work in July 1952 and it took him 15 months to complete. The electronic balancer is equipped with vacuum tubes. It is a one-off machine built especially for materials management at Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), where it supplemented the work of a Remington Rand tabulating machine, whose mechanical mode of operation was no match for the much faster Nixdorf electronics. Date of manufacture: 1953
The accounting machine Exacta-Continental 6000 was the ultimate in electromechanical office equipment: it could manage all accounting tasks with ease. It came with an optional Multitronic electronic multiplication unit manufactured by Heinz Nixdorf’s Labor für Impulstechnik, which signalled the beginning of a new data processing era from 1958 onwards. Date of manufacture: about 1958
The Zuse Z 11 was the first programmable relay computer from ZUSE KG to go into series production. It was used for mathematical calculations, its hard-wired programs having been designed for surveying tasks in particular. The last in a development series of electro-mechanically controlled computer systems, it contained relays as binary switching elements. These may have been slower than vacuum tubes, but were also more reliable, more durable and less expensive. Date of manufacture: 1958
The Curta is the only mechanical pocket calculator that is capable of performing all four basic arithmetic operations. The inventor of this precision-engineered masterpiece was an Austrian, Curt Herzstark (1902-1988). Date of manufacture: about 1965
The Anita was the first all-electronic, tube-based desktop calculator. Not only was it completely silent, but it operated much faster than mechanical machines, and was maintenance-free too. However, tubes were not an optimum technical solution for desktop calculators as they used a lot of electricity, were relatively susceptible to breakage and were expensive to produce. For this reason, this technology remained unique to the Anita. Mass production of such devices only became an option once transistors started to be used from around 1964 onwards. Date of manufacture: 1961
The linotype machine was a “line casting” machine used in printing. It replaced the extremely time-consuming manual type-setting process. The machine, which was patented in 1886, mechanised the setting and casting of letters. The setter entered text at a keyboard: every time a key was pressed, a matrix of the chosen letter fell into position from a magazine. The assembled line of matrices was cast as a single piece of type metal and filled with liquid lead once the spaces between words had been automatically adjusted. After cooling, this produced “A LINE OF TYPES”. Date of manufacture: 1962
At the start of the 1950s, VEB Optima Büromaschinenwerk Erfurt was asked to develop a typewriter for China as part of e socialist initiative to support allied nations. The Erfurt manufacturers based their design on the box-type typewriter first sold in 1917 by Nippon Typewriter Co. Ltd. in Tokyo. The “Chinese Optima” made its début in 1953. Subsequently, the Chinese bicycle factory “Flying Dove” took over production of the device, two versions of which were produced in China under the “Flying Dove” brand until the end of 1992. Date of manufacture: 1992
This computer originated from the Gemini II mission; it featured in an unmanned space flight on 19.01.1965. The Mercury and Gemini space programmes laid the groundwork for the moon landing. From 1963 onwards, the Gemini missions tested orbital coupling manoeuvres necessary to achieve rendezvous and docking. Safe, accurate manoeuvring was only possible with the aid of a computer. IBM’s commission to develop the on-board computer was worth $26.6 million. It was the first computer to have a magnetic core memory so that data was not destroyed when read out. It was also IBM’s first computer to be fully transistorised. The computer proved reliable in operation. Date of manufacture: about 1964
In 1965, the Digital Equipment Corporation presented the PDP-8, thereby marking the beginning of the mini-computer era. Priced at just 18,200 Dollars, this general-purpose computer was robust enough to be used in both production and laboratory environments. Some 10,000 of them were sold within the space of 10 years; by 1975, the PDP-8 cost just 2,600 Dollars. A whole variety of manufacturers tapped into the new market, building computers based on the PDP-8 for use in process and manufacturing technology and for controlling experiments in research. By 1975, more than 30 companies in the West German market alone were selling mini-computers. Date of manufacture: 1965
In 1964, Nixdorf developed the electronics for a desk-top calculator produced by office equipment manufacturer Wanderer, later building the components itself under licence. The “Wanderer Conti” was presented to the public for the first time in 1965 at the Hanover Trade Fair. It was the world’s first fully electronic desk-top calculator with printing output. In terms of design, the four-species calculator was a bona fide computer, boasting an arithmetic unit, a magnetic core memory, a printer and a threaded read-only memory (ROM). The Conti enabled Nixdorf to gain a foothold in the US market when the Chicago-based Victor Comptometer Corporation placed an order worth DM 100 million for the machine in 1968. Date of manufacture: 1966
The Olivetti Valentine is a mechanical typewriter that stands out largely by virtue of its unconventional appearance. It is regarded as a milestone in industrial design and is a sought-after collector’s item. Date of manufacture: early 1970s
The great success enjoyed by Nixdorf at the end of the 1960s and start of the 1970s was based largely on the computers of the 820 series. These were universal computers for companies of all sizes and could be used for almost any application area thanks to their modular construction and consistent application of the modular design system. Date of manufacture: 1974
Canon Canola Pocketronic, Sanyo ICC-82D, Sharp EL-8: The first battery-operated electronic pocket calculators were brought out virtually simultaneously in 1970 by Japanese firms Sanyo, Sharp and Canon. However, the "heart" of these first pocket calculators – the microchip – was produced by US companies such as Texas Instruments and Rockwell. Texas Instruments had developed the first portable prototype as early as 1967. But the Cal-Tech, as it was known, was merely supposed to demonstrate the power of the new chip and never went into series production. The huge sales potential of the pocket calculator had yet to be recognised, especially since it was still too expensive to produce. It was for this reason that Texas Instruments sold the technical design of the Cal-Tech to Canon, and only brought out its own pocket calculator in 1972. Date of manufacture: 1970
The Odyssey console laid the foundations for the video game era. In 1966 Ralph Baer, a US engineer of German descent, filed a patent for a kind of ping-pong game. This was ultimately granted in 1968. It was not until 1972 that the game was distributed with a gaming console by Magnavox. Poor marketing meant that although the video game wasn’t a commercial flop, it wasn’t a resounding financial success either. Date of manufacture: 1972
The HP-35 was the world's first scientific pocket calculator. Before it came along, slide rules and logarithm tables were required for trigonometric and exponential functions. Pocket calculators were only capable of the four basic arithmetic operations. The price for an HP-35 in 1972 was about DM 2,000. Date of manufacture: 1972
In 1970, the photocopier company Xerox founded a research centre in Palo Alto known as PARC. This is where the Xerox Alto was developed, a forerunner of much of the PC technology taken for granted today. The Alto had a graphical user interface and a mouse, and was the model on which first the Macintosh, then Windows were based. It was also fully network-capable: the Ethernet was another Xerox PARC invention. Many Alto system engineers later worked on the Apple Macintosh. Only around 1,000 examples of the Alto were built; it was a prototype and was never launched on the market. Date of manufacture: 1973
The January 1975 issue of the magazine Popular Electronics featured the forerunner of the first personal computer, the Altair 8800, which had been designed by Ed Roberts and his company MITS. It was available as a kit for 397 US dollars, making it the first computer that ordinary consumers could afford and marking the advent of widespread PC use. Incidentally, the Altair's name comes from a TV series. The twelve-year-old daughter of editor Les Solomon said: “Call it Altair. That's where the Enterprise is heading tonight.“ Date of manufacture: 1975
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple on 1 April 1976. Soon afterwards, they presented their first computer: the Apple I. A total of only 200 Apple I computers were made. Jobs and Wozniak built it in Jobs's parents' garage in Los Altos, California and sold it for $666. The Apple I was actually just a circuit board. Users had to make their own housing for it and add input and output devices themselves. There are still around 70 Apple I computers in existence worldwide. Date of manufacture: 1976
The Apple II was the first “personal“ desktop computer to achieve commercial success. In contrast to the Apple I, the main board was supplied in a plastic housing together with a keyboard, a monitor and software.  The Apple Writer word processor and VisiCalc spreadsheet software were key to its success. The Apple II marked the start of Apple's rise to become the world's most successful company. Date of manufacture: 1977
The computer centre from the Sachsenwerk in Dresden is part of a system that was only shut down in 1993. It played a role in GDR computer history and a part in the success story of a major computer system. The Einheitliches System Elektronischer Rechenanlagen (standardized system of electronic computers) is the functional replica of an IBM computer: ESER 1055 is compatible with the 370/155 in terms of hardware and software alike. These computer systems were built until well into the 1980s. Date of manufacture: about 1979
Whenever computers were mentioned in the 1960s and 1970s, IBM was the name on everyone's lips. Despite this, the manufacturing giant was so slow to react that it almost missed out on the personal computer revolution, eventually launching its own PC 5150 in August 1981. The device proved an immediate hit, becoming an office mainstay. After all, it was a product of THE computer company, a fact which engendered trust among businesses that had not had any faith in the models available on the market thus far. The IBM PC, which ran with Microsoft's DOS operating system, provided the industry standard that had been lacking for so long. Date of manufacture: 1984
When Adam Osborne founded his computer firm, he was already well-known on the burgeoning home-computer scene thanks to numerous books and articles he had published. Although others before him had toyed with the idea of building a portable computer, his model, the Osborne 1, was the first on the market. Compared with today’s laptops, the Osborne 1 was extremely heavy and unwieldy. Despite this drawback, it proved a big success and almost became a cult object. Unfortunately, Osborne’s company went bankrupt in 1983. Date of manufacture: 1983
Commodore presented the C64 in 1982. Two years after its launch, four million units had already been sold, breaking all previous records for computer sales. Ultimately, a total of over 20 million C64 computers were sold throughout the world. The C64 was sometimes referred to as the “breadbox“ or even the “neck rest“ due to its shape. Date of manufacture: 1982
Motorola launched the first commercial mobile phone in 1983: the Dynatac 8000X. This bulky forebear of today's mobile phones weighed almost 750 grams and cost around $400. Date of manufacture: 1983
Apple launched the Macintosh on 24 January 1984. The Mac broke with all the previously accepted notions about PCs. When Jef Raskin, the father of the Mac, proposed the project in 1979, his idea was to design a computer that was geared to people. The Mac enabled normal users to become acquainted with the graphical user interface featuring desktop, mouse and windows. All they had to do beforehand was to unpack it and plug it in. Although the Mac lost out to the IBM PCs in the office environment, it revolutionised the entire graphic design industry. Date of manufacture: 1984
The Cray-2 was the fastest computer in the world in 1985. It weighed 2.5 tonnes. It was supplied as a supercomputer with up to four processors, a peak performance of 2 GFLOPS, 2 GB of memory and a maximum clock speed of 4.1 ns. It is notable for its striking design. A total of 27 units were sold. Date of manufacture: 1985
The Nintendo Game Boy proved to be one of the most successful products in the company’s history. The hand-held video game device was launched on the market in a plain grey-and-white version in 1989. Its robust technology, ease of operation and low battery consumption all helped to make it the biggest-selling console of the time. Although the Game Boy was initially only available with the game Tetris, strangely enough this became part of its appeal: it wasn’t just for hard-core players, but for everyone. The Game Boy was manufactured until 2002 and 120 million devices were sold in all. Date of manufacture: about 1990
The Newton was Apple’s attempt to create a revolutionary new device. A feature of the PDA (Private Digital Assistant) was handwriting recognition software; the device also came with a stylus which was supposed to make entering text child’s play. The touch-sensitive screen would detect characters and words automatically as they were written. However, this feature never really worked properly at market launch, something which gave rise to less than glowing reviews in the press. The project was halted in 1998 when company founder Steve Jobs re-joined the company. Date of manufacture: 1993
Robot soccer represents a major challenge for researchers in the field of artificial intelligence. A proving ground for the state of science in this field, it is also a means of promoting university-level education. Since 1997, international RoboCup matches featuring research teams from all over the world have been held in various leagues. This model – a third-generation, Middle Size League robot – belongs to the Fraunhofer Institut. Each robot has its own sensors and can make decisions completely autonomously. The robots can, however, communicate wirelessly with one another and with a computer. Date of manufacture: 1999
The robot dog AIBO was perhaps the most technically sophisticated toy ever to be created by its Japanese manufacturer Sony: the battery-operated dog came with 18 electrically controlled joints, microphones, loudspeakers, emotion display, 64-bit processor and a balance system to enable it to stand up. Date of manufacture: 1999
Lauron stands for “LAUfROboter Neuronal gesteuert” (English: “Walking Robot, Neural Controlled”). The walking robot (the 3rd generation of which is on show) was developed in order to research statically stable walking in rough terrain. Its movements are biologically inspired, mimicking those of a stick insect. Each leg can respond semi-autonomously to impulses; the movements are coordinated at a higher level. Lauron is able to gather information about its environment and plan a path towards a given goal autonomously. While walking, the robot uses sensors to detect potential obstacles and then either walks over or around them. Date of manufacture: 1999
Using a camera, this 2nd-generation face robot scans the viewer’s facial expression, which is then recognised and interpreted by software based on a neural net. From a repertoire of pre-programmed responses, the robot’s mechanism is activated and a matching facial expression is generated. The mechanical and electronic parts of the Mark II were covered by a silicone skin to create a robot face that looks as human as possible. Fumio Hara, Science University of Tokyo, Japan, 2001
RoboThespian is a life-sized humanoid robot designed for human interaction in public environments. It can sing as well as tell jokes and recite text passages. Visitors can choose from a selection of programmed text sequences for the metallic creation to read out, accompanied by a range of gestures. Date of manufacture: 2011
The earliest documents written on clay tablets in cuneiform script were used for tax and accounting purposes. Records were kept of the bread rations paid to workers, for example. The precise history is not known. About 2350-2100 BC
Wilhelm Schickard wanted to “mechanise” the laborious and error-prone task of calculating astronomical tables. In 1623 he had two calculating machines built to his specifications in a mechanic’s workshop in Tübingen – one for himself, the other for Johannes Kepler. The practical benefits of his “calculating clock” appeared somewhat dubious at the time, as the system based on logarithmic tables was superior. Regrettably, both machines were destroyed in a fire at the workshop and the invention was forgotten. This reconstruction of the machine by Baron von Freytag Löringhoff was completed in 1957. Date of manufacture: 1957
In 1678, French watchmaker René Grillet presented the “Machine arithmétique” which was capable of carrying out all four basic arithmetic operations. Constructed largely out of paper, the invention used so-called Napier’s rods that had been around since 1617 for the calculation process. It is an excellent example of the early days of mechanical calculation and an ancestor of today’s pocket calculator. Date of manufacture: 1678
This calculating machine, invented by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, was built in the years from 1690 to 1720. It represents a historic milestone in the development of mechanical calculating machines because it was the first to perform all four arithmetic operations. Leibniz's operating mechanism, known as the stepped cylinder or Leibniz wheel, allowed multiplication to be performed mechanically and remained an indispensable component of mechanical calculators for over 200 years. Functioning replica of the only remaining original (at the Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek in Hanover), built to plans by N. Joachim Lehmann. HNF replica: 1995
The device popularly known as the “Chess Turk“ was built in 1769 by Austrian court official Wolfgang von Kempelen in such a way as to convince spectators that they were watching an “automated chess player“. In fact an individual of quite normal size sat inside and controlled the gripper arm with the aid of levers and cable winches. Magnetised chess pieces and small magnetic pins on the underside of the board enabled the moves to be followed by the person within. Functional HNF replica: 2004
An Arithmometer is a mechanical calculating machine invented by the Frenchman Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar (1785-1870). It was the world's first calculating machine to go into series production. As well as addition and subtraction, it could perform multiplication and division by means of repeated addition and subtraction. This luxury version of the calculating machine was a gift to the king of Portugal. Date of manufacture: about 1855
The Hansen Writing Ball was the world's first typewriter to be produced commercially, albeit in small batches. It was developed in 1865 by Rasmus Johann Malling-Hansen, a Danish pastor and teacher of deaf-mutes. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a well-known user. Date of manufacture: about 1878
The name Morse and the code of the same name became synonymous with telegraphy. His procedure for transmitting text information via a series of pulses (dots and dashes) and the silences between them helped the technology achieve a breakthrough. The most important components of the Ericsson Morse Telegraph Type TA 100 for receiving messages (“sounder”) are an electromagnet, an armature, a mechanical clockwork to move the paper tape, a coloured stylus and a roll of paper. A Morse key is required to transmit messages. Date of manufacture: about 1880
In 1883, Englishman Joseph Edmondson obtained a patent for a circular calculating machine based on the stepped-drum mechanism. His design was based on Thomas de Colmar’s simple “arithmomètre”. The advantage of Edmondson’s machine was that it was not limited to a certain number of decimal places if a division produced a remainder. Date of manufacture: about 1885
This machine is a replica of the first Hollerith machine that was used so successfully to complete the first census in the USA thanks to the use of punched cards. It provided a much faster way of counting the vast amount of data gathered. The Hollerith machine consists of two hinged plates, a switch panel with relays, a counting device with 40 counters and a sorting box. When one of the pins on the plates meets a hole in the punched card, a circuit is completed and an electric pulse causes the pointer of a counter to advance accordingly. The respective compartment of the sorting box is also opened, and the operator can place the analysed punched card into it by hand. Functional HNF replica: 2006
The comptometer was the first exclusively key-driven mechanical calculator. The “wooden box” was a precursor to the full-keyboard adding machines built between 1886 and 1904. According to its manufacturer’s promotional material, it was the world’s first adding machine with a practical application. Date of manufacture: about 1900
The Underwood No. 5, which appeared in 1900, was the first classic modern typewriter (with visible text, upper- and lower-case letters and tab stops). It set the standard for all subsequent typewriters worldwide until they were superseded first by IBM electric typewriters, which used a type ball instead of type bars, and then by PCs. Date of manufacture: 1915
This extremely compact table-top telephone with a quirky design was also known as the “Pferdefuss” or “horse’s hoof” in Bavaria due to its shape. It was the approved standard dialling apparatus only in Bavaria. Incidentally, the device was referred to as the “cow’s hoof” in Prussia. Date of manufacture: from 1925 onwards
In 1879 the Ritty brothers filed a patent application for the first cash register in the USA. Businessman John H. Patterson acquired the rights to manufacture cash registers in 1884 and founded the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio. The NCR 400 series models were among the standard cash registers in use at the time. They were favoured by retail outlets because of their robust nature. Model 422 has five rows of keys and features 42 keys in all. The indicators are in English and show sums of pounds and pence. Date of manufacture: 1910
The Kryha Liliput is a very rare cipher machine in pocket-watch format. The machine consisted of two concentric rings, each featuring an alphabet and numbers. The user would operate it by pushing a lever to step the inner ring a random number of places against the outer ring, thereby changing the relationship between the two. Although Kryha’s devices were a commercial success, they were cryptographically weak as the period lengths of the codes were generally quite short. The Kryha Liliput was cryptographically compatible with its “big sister”, the Kryha Standard. Date of manufacture: about 1926
The legendary Enigma cipher machine was developed in the early 1920s by the German engineer Artur Scherbius in Berlin and initially marketed for commercial purposes. The machine has three rotors, each of which performs an alphabetic substitution cipher. By combining the rotors in series and using a plugboard with variable wiring, very complex scrambling of the message can be achieved. Date of manufacture: about 1942
The T52 e was a World War II German cipher machine and teleprinter. Due to its size and weight, however, it was only ever used as a stationary device. Unlike the Enigma, messages were encrypted and deciphered automatically. On 20 July 1944, the resistance group led by Claus von Stauffenberg used the device to issue encrypted commands for Operation Valkyrie, the plot to assassinate Hitler. Date of manufacture: 1942
The first functioning electronic computer consisted of 40 panels with almost 18,000 vacuum tubes. J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly were commissioned to construct a vacuum-tube computer by the US Army in 1943. ENIAC, which was 1,000 times faster than other calculating machines, was developed by the young scientists at the Moore School of Electronics in Philadelphia. It required just eight hours to perform calculations that had previously taken an entire year. The high processing capacity was needed by the US Army to calculate artillery firing tables. Mauchly wanted to use ENIAC’s speed to produce more accurate weather forecasts, which is why its inventors built a “universal machine“. Date of manufacture: 1946
The history of IBM in Germany dates back to 1910, with the founding of DEHOMAG (Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH) in Berlin. The company was renamed IBM Deutschland GmbH in 1949, when it relocated to Böblingen. The D 11 tabulator, which was manufactured from 1935 onwards, was the first German machine of its kind. Used for punched card analysis, its ability to read, count, compute and print cards made it the mainstay of many so-called Hollerith departments. The machine proved a milestone in the development of punched card technology: It was on sale until 1960, latterly as the IBM D11 Type 450. Around 1,100 D 11 models were sold in all. Date of manufacture: between 1949 and 1960
In the early days of telephony, calls were connected manually by a switchboard operator . The next stage of development saw the introduction of automatic telephone exchanges which dispensed with the need for human intervention. A local telephone exchange establishes connections between the subscribers of a local network. In this case, an analogue electrical signal is switched via electromechanical components. If the first digit dialled by the subscriber is a zero, he or she is put through to the trunk or long-distance exchange. The electromechanical system exhibited here was in use in Hagen-Eilpe until 1994, when it was replaced by a digital switching system.
The W48 desktop telephone was developed for the Deutsche Bundespost by Siemens & Halske in 1948 in the western zone of occupied Germany and produced in very large quantities. Date of manufacture: 1954
This is the first computer developed by Heinz Nixdorf. He started work in July 1952 and it took him 15 months to complete. The electronic balancer is equipped with vacuum tubes. It is a one-off machine built especially for materials management at Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), where it supplemented the work of a Remington Rand tabulating machine, whose mechanical mode of operation was no match for the much faster Nixdorf electronics. Date of manufacture: 1953
The accounting machine Exacta-Continental 6000 was the ultimate in electromechanical office equipment: it could manage all accounting tasks with ease. It came with an optional Multitronic electronic multiplication unit manufactured by Heinz Nixdorf’s Labor für Impulstechnik, which signalled the beginning of a new data processing era from 1958 onwards. Date of manufacture: about 1958
The Zuse Z 11 was the first programmable relay computer from ZUSE KG to go into series production. It was used for mathematical calculations, its hard-wired programs having been designed for surveying tasks in particular. The last in a development series of electro-mechanically controlled computer systems, it contained relays as binary switching elements. These may have been slower than vacuum tubes, but were also more reliable, more durable and less expensive. Date of manufacture: 1958
The Curta is the only mechanical pocket calculator that is capable of performing all four basic arithmetic operations. The inventor of this precision-engineered masterpiece was an Austrian, Curt Herzstark (1902-1988). Date of manufacture: about 1965
The Anita was the first all-electronic, tube-based desktop calculator. Not only was it completely silent, but it operated much faster than mechanical machines, and was maintenance-free too. However, tubes were not an optimum technical solution for desktop calculators as they used a lot of electricity, were relatively susceptible to breakage and were expensive to produce. For this reason, this technology remained unique to the Anita. Mass production of such devices only became an option once transistors started to be used from around 1964 onwards. Date of manufacture: 1961
The linotype machine was a “line casting” machine used in printing. It replaced the extremely time-consuming manual type-setting process. The machine, which was patented in 1886, mechanised the setting and casting of letters. The setter entered text at a keyboard: every time a key was pressed, a matrix of the chosen letter fell into position from a magazine. The assembled line of matrices was cast as a single piece of type metal and filled with liquid lead once the spaces between words had been automatically adjusted. After cooling, this produced “A LINE OF TYPES”. Date of manufacture: 1962
At the start of the 1950s, VEB Optima Büromaschinenwerk Erfurt was asked to develop a typewriter for China as part of e socialist initiative to support allied nations. The Erfurt manufacturers based their design on the box-type typewriter first sold in 1917 by Nippon Typewriter Co. Ltd. in Tokyo. The “Chinese Optima” made its début in 1953. Subsequently, the Chinese bicycle factory “Flying Dove” took over production of the device, two versions of which were produced in China under the “Flying Dove” brand until the end of 1992. Date of manufacture: 1992
This computer originated from the Gemini II mission; it featured in an unmanned space flight on 19.01.1965. The Mercury and Gemini space programmes laid the groundwork for the moon landing. From 1963 onwards, the Gemini missions tested orbital coupling manoeuvres necessary to achieve rendezvous and docking. Safe, accurate manoeuvring was only possible with the aid of a computer. IBM’s commission to develop the on-board computer was worth $26.6 million. It was the first computer to have a magnetic core memory so that data was not destroyed when read out. It was also IBM’s first computer to be fully transistorised. The computer proved reliable in operation. Date of manufacture: about 1964
In 1965, the Digital Equipment Corporation presented the PDP-8, thereby marking the beginning of the mini-computer era. Priced at just 18,200 Dollars, this general-purpose computer was robust enough to be used in both production and laboratory environments. Some 10,000 of them were sold within the space of 10 years; by 1975, the PDP-8 cost just 2,600 Dollars. A whole variety of manufacturers tapped into the new market, building computers based on the PDP-8 for use in process and manufacturing technology and for controlling experiments in research. By 1975, more than 30 companies in the West German market alone were selling mini-computers. Date of manufacture: 1965
In 1964, Nixdorf developed the electronics for a desk-top calculator produced by office equipment manufacturer Wanderer, later building the components itself under licence. The “Wanderer Conti” was presented to the public for the first time in 1965 at the Hanover Trade Fair. It was the world’s first fully electronic desk-top calculator with printing output. In terms of design, the four-species calculator was a bona fide computer, boasting an arithmetic unit, a magnetic core memory, a printer and a threaded read-only memory (ROM). The Conti enabled Nixdorf to gain a foothold in the US market when the Chicago-based Victor Comptometer Corporation placed an order worth DM 100 million for the machine in 1968. Date of manufacture: 1966
The Olivetti Valentine is a mechanical typewriter that stands out largely by virtue of its unconventional appearance. It is regarded as a milestone in industrial design and is a sought-after collector’s item. Date of manufacture: early 1970s
The great success enjoyed by Nixdorf at the end of the 1960s and start of the 1970s was based largely on the computers of the 820 series. These were universal computers for companies of all sizes and could be used for almost any application area thanks to their modular construction and consistent application of the modular design system. Date of manufacture: 1974
Canon Canola Pocketronic, Sanyo ICC-82D, Sharp EL-8: The first battery-operated electronic pocket calculators were brought out virtually simultaneously in 1970 by Japanese firms Sanyo, Sharp and Canon. However, the "heart" of these first pocket calculators – the microchip – was produced by US companies such as Texas Instruments and Rockwell. Texas Instruments had developed the first portable prototype as early as 1967. But the Cal-Tech, as it was known, was merely supposed to demonstrate the power of the new chip and never went into series production. The huge sales potential of the pocket calculator had yet to be recognised, especially since it was still too expensive to produce. It was for this reason that Texas Instruments sold the technical design of the Cal-Tech to Canon, and only brought out its own pocket calculator in 1972. Date of manufacture: 1970
The Odyssey console laid the foundations for the video game era. In 1966 Ralph Baer, a US engineer of German descent, filed a patent for a kind of ping-pong game. This was ultimately granted in 1968. It was not until 1972 that the game was distributed with a gaming console by Magnavox. Poor marketing meant that although the video game wasn’t a commercial flop, it wasn’t a resounding financial success either. Date of manufacture: 1972
The HP-35 was the world's first scientific pocket calculator. Before it came along, slide rules and logarithm tables were required for trigonometric and exponential functions. Pocket calculators were only capable of the four basic arithmetic operations. The price for an HP-35 in 1972 was about DM 2,000. Date of manufacture: 1972
In 1970, the photocopier company Xerox founded a research centre in Palo Alto known as PARC. This is where the Xerox Alto was developed, a forerunner of much of the PC technology taken for granted today. The Alto had a graphical user interface and a mouse, and was the model on which first the Macintosh, then Windows were based. It was also fully network-capable: the Ethernet was another Xerox PARC invention. Many Alto system engineers later worked on the Apple Macintosh. Only around 1,000 examples of the Alto were built; it was a prototype and was never launched on the market. Date of manufacture: 1973
The January 1975 issue of the magazine Popular Electronics featured the forerunner of the first personal computer, the Altair 8800, which had been designed by Ed Roberts and his company MITS. It was available as a kit for 397 US dollars, making it the first computer that ordinary consumers could afford and marking the advent of widespread PC use. Incidentally, the Altair's name comes from a TV series. The twelve-year-old daughter of editor Les Solomon said: “Call it Altair. That's where the Enterprise is heading tonight.“ Date of manufacture: 1975
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple on 1 April 1976. Soon afterwards, they presented their first computer: the Apple I. A total of only 200 Apple I computers were made. Jobs and Wozniak built it in Jobs's parents' garage in Los Altos, California and sold it for $666. The Apple I was actually just a circuit board. Users had to make their own housing for it and add input and output devices themselves. There are still around 70 Apple I computers in existence worldwide. Date of manufacture: 1976
The Apple II was the first “personal“ desktop computer to achieve commercial success. In contrast to the Apple I, the main board was supplied in a plastic housing together with a keyboard, a monitor and software.  The Apple Writer word processor and VisiCalc spreadsheet software were key to its success. The Apple II marked the start of Apple's rise to become the world's most successful company. Date of manufacture: 1977
The computer centre from the Sachsenwerk in Dresden is part of a system that was only shut down in 1993. It played a role in GDR computer history and a part in the success story of a major computer system. The Einheitliches System Elektronischer Rechenanlagen (standardized system of electronic computers) is the functional replica of an IBM computer: ESER 1055 is compatible with the 370/155 in terms of hardware and software alike. These computer systems were built until well into the 1980s. Date of manufacture: about 1979
Whenever computers were mentioned in the 1960s and 1970s, IBM was the name on everyone's lips. Despite this, the manufacturing giant was so slow to react that it almost missed out on the personal computer revolution, eventually launching its own PC 5150 in August 1981. The device proved an immediate hit, becoming an office mainstay. After all, it was a product of THE computer company, a fact which engendered trust among businesses that had not had any faith in the models available on the market thus far. The IBM PC, which ran with Microsoft's DOS operating system, provided the industry standard that had been lacking for so long. Date of manufacture: 1984
When Adam Osborne founded his computer firm, he was already well-known on the burgeoning home-computer scene thanks to numerous books and articles he had published. Although others before him had toyed with the idea of building a portable computer, his model, the Osborne 1, was the first on the market. Compared with today’s laptops, the Osborne 1 was extremely heavy and unwieldy. Despite this drawback, it proved a big success and almost became a cult object. Unfortunately, Osborne’s company went bankrupt in 1983. Date of manufacture: 1983
Commodore presented the C64 in 1982. Two years after its launch, four million units had already been sold, breaking all previous records for computer sales. Ultimately, a total of over 20 million C64 computers were sold throughout the world. The C64 was sometimes referred to as the “breadbox“ or even the “neck rest“ due to its shape. Date of manufacture: 1982
Motorola launched the first commercial mobile phone in 1983: the Dynatac 8000X. This bulky forebear of today's mobile phones weighed almost 750 grams and cost around $400. Date of manufacture: 1983
Apple launched the Macintosh on 24 January 1984. The Mac broke with all the previously accepted notions about PCs. When Jef Raskin, the father of the Mac, proposed the project in 1979, his idea was to design a computer that was geared to people. The Mac enabled normal users to become acquainted with the graphical user interface featuring desktop, mouse and windows. All they had to do beforehand was to unpack it and plug it in. Although the Mac lost out to the IBM PCs in the office environment, it revolutionised the entire graphic design industry. Date of manufacture: 1984
The Cray-2 was the fastest computer in the world in 1985. It weighed 2.5 tonnes. It was supplied as a supercomputer with up to four processors, a peak performance of 2 GFLOPS, 2 GB of memory and a maximum clock speed of 4.1 ns. It is notable for its striking design. A total of 27 units were sold. Date of manufacture: 1985
The Nintendo Game Boy proved to be one of the most successful products in the company’s history. The hand-held video game device was launched on the market in a plain grey-and-white version in 1989. Its robust technology, ease of operation and low battery consumption all helped to make it the biggest-selling console of the time. Although the Game Boy was initially only available with the game Tetris, strangely enough this became part of its appeal: it wasn’t just for hard-core players, but for everyone. The Game Boy was manufactured until 2002 and 120 million devices were sold in all. Date of manufacture: about 1990
The Newton was Apple’s attempt to create a revolutionary new device. A feature of the PDA (Private Digital Assistant) was handwriting recognition software; the device also came with a stylus which was supposed to make entering text child’s play. The touch-sensitive screen would detect characters and words automatically as they were written. However, this feature never really worked properly at market launch, something which gave rise to less than glowing reviews in the press. The project was halted in 1998 when company founder Steve Jobs re-joined the company. Date of manufacture: 1993
Robot soccer represents a major challenge for researchers in the field of artificial intelligence. A proving ground for the state of science in this field, it is also a means of promoting university-level education. Since 1997, international RoboCup matches featuring research teams from all over the world have been held in various leagues. This model – a third-generation, Middle Size League robot – belongs to the Fraunhofer Institut. Each robot has its own sensors and can make decisions completely autonomously. The robots can, however, communicate wirelessly with one another and with a computer. Date of manufacture: 1999
The robot dog AIBO was perhaps the most technically sophisticated toy ever to be created by its Japanese manufacturer Sony: the battery-operated dog came with 18 electrically controlled joints, microphones, loudspeakers, emotion display, 64-bit processor and a balance system to enable it to stand up. Date of manufacture: 1999
Lauron stands for “LAUfROboter Neuronal gesteuert” (English: “Walking Robot, Neural Controlled”). The walking robot (the 3rd generation of which is on show) was developed in order to research statically stable walking in rough terrain. Its movements are biologically inspired, mimicking those of a stick insect. Each leg can respond semi-autonomously to impulses; the movements are coordinated at a higher level. Lauron is able to gather information about its environment and plan a path towards a given goal autonomously. While walking, the robot uses sensors to detect potential obstacles and then either walks over or around them. Date of manufacture: 1999
Using a camera, this 2nd-generation face robot scans the viewer’s facial expression, which is then recognised and interpreted by software based on a neural net. From a repertoire of pre-programmed responses, the robot’s mechanism is activated and a matching facial expression is generated. The mechanical and electronic parts of the Mark II were covered by a silicone skin to create a robot face that looks as human as possible. Fumio Hara, Science University of Tokyo, Japan, 2001
RoboThespian is a life-sized humanoid robot designed for human interaction in public environments. It can sing as well as tell jokes and recite text passages. Visitors can choose from a selection of programmed text sequences for the metallic creation to read out, accompanied by a range of gestures. Date of manufacture: 2011
The earliest documents written on clay tablets in cuneiform script were used for tax and accounting purposes. Records were kept of the bread rations paid to workers, for example. The precise history is not known. About 2350-2100 BC
Wilhelm Schickard wanted to “mechanise” the laborious and error-prone task of calculating astronomical tables. In 1623 he had two calculating machines built to his specifications in a mechanic’s workshop in Tübingen – one for himself, the other for Johannes Kepler. The practical benefits of his “calculating clock” appeared somewhat dubious at the time, as the system based on logarithmic tables was superior. Regrettably, both machines were destroyed in a fire at the workshop and the invention was forgotten. This reconstruction of the machine by Baron von Freytag Löringhoff was completed in 1957. Date of manufacture: 1957
In 1678, French watchmaker René Grillet presented the “Machine arithmétique” which was capable of carrying out all four basic arithmetic operations. Constructed largely out of paper, the invention used so-called Napier’s rods that had been around since 1617 for the calculation process. It is an excellent example of the early days of mechanical calculation and an ancestor of today’s pocket calculator. Date of manufacture: 1678
This calculating machine, invented by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, was built in the years from 1690 to 1720. It represents a historic milestone in the development of mechanical calculating machines because it was the first to perform all four arithmetic operations. Leibniz's operating mechanism, known as the stepped cylinder or Leibniz wheel, allowed multiplication to be performed mechanically and remained an indispensable component of mechanical calculators for over 200 years. Functioning replica of the only remaining original (at the Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek in Hanover), built to plans by N. Joachim Lehmann. HNF replica: 1995
The device popularly known as the “Chess Turk“ was built in 1769 by Austrian court official Wolfgang von Kempelen in such a way as to convince spectators that they were watching an “automated chess player“. In fact an individual of quite normal size sat inside and controlled the gripper arm with the aid of levers and cable winches. Magnetised chess pieces and small magnetic pins on the underside of the board enabled the moves to be followed by the person within. Functional HNF replica: 2004
An Arithmometer is a mechanical calculating machine invented by the Frenchman Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar (1785-1870). It was the world's first calculating machine to go into series production. As well as addition and subtraction, it could perform multiplication and division by means of repeated addition and subtraction. This luxury version of the calculating machine was a gift to the king of Portugal. Date of manufacture: about 1855
The Hansen Writing Ball was the world's first typewriter to be produced commercially, albeit in small batches. It was developed in 1865 by Rasmus Johann Malling-Hansen, a Danish pastor and teacher of deaf-mutes. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a well-known user. Date of manufacture: about 1878
The name Morse and the code of the same name became synonymous with telegraphy. His procedure for transmitting text information via a series of pulses (dots and dashes) and the silences between them helped the technology achieve a breakthrough. The most important components of the Ericsson Morse Telegraph Type TA 100 for receiving messages (“sounder”) are an electromagnet, an armature, a mechanical clockwork to move the paper tape, a coloured stylus and a roll of paper. A Morse key is required to transmit messages. Date of manufacture: about 1880
In 1883, Englishman Joseph Edmondson obtained a patent for a circular calculating machine based on the stepped-drum mechanism. His design was based on Thomas de Colmar’s simple “arithmomètre”. The advantage of Edmondson’s machine was that it was not limited to a certain number of decimal places if a division produced a remainder. Date of manufacture: about 1885
This machine is a replica of the first Hollerith machine that was used so successfully to complete the first census in the USA thanks to the use of punched cards. It provided a much faster way of counting the vast amount of data gathered. The Hollerith machine consists of two hinged plates, a switch panel with relays, a counting device with 40 counters and a sorting box. When one of the pins on the plates meets a hole in the punched card, a circuit is completed and an electric pulse causes the pointer of a counter to advance accordingly. The respective compartment of the sorting box is also opened, and the operator can place the analysed punched card into it by hand. Functional HNF replica: 2006
The comptometer was the first exclusively key-driven mechanical calculator. The “wooden box” was a precursor to the full-keyboard adding machines built between 1886 and 1904. According to its manufacturer’s promotional material, it was the world’s first adding machine with a practical application. Date of manufacture: about 1900
The Underwood No. 5, which appeared in 1900, was the first classic modern typewriter (with visible text, upper- and lower-case letters and tab stops). It set the standard for all subsequent typewriters worldwide until they were superseded first by IBM electric typewriters, which used a type ball instead of type bars, and then by PCs. Date of manufacture: 1915
This extremely compact table-top telephone with a quirky design was also known as the “Pferdefuss” or “horse’s hoof” in Bavaria due to its shape. It was the approved standard dialling apparatus only in Bavaria. Incidentally, the device was referred to as the “cow’s hoof” in Prussia. Date of manufacture: from 1925 onwards
In 1879 the Ritty brothers filed a patent application for the first cash register in the USA. Businessman John H. Patterson acquired the rights to manufacture cash registers in 1884 and founded the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio. The NCR 400 series models were among the standard cash registers in use at the time. They were favoured by retail outlets because of their robust nature. Model 422 has five rows of keys and features 42 keys in all. The indicators are in English and show sums of pounds and pence. Date of manufacture: 1910
The Kryha Liliput is a very rare cipher machine in pocket-watch format. The machine consisted of two concentric rings, each featuring an alphabet and numbers. The user would operate it by pushing a lever to step the inner ring a random number of places against the outer ring, thereby changing the relationship between the two. Although Kryha’s devices were a commercial success, they were cryptographically weak as the period lengths of the codes were generally quite short. The Kryha Liliput was cryptographically compatible with its “big sister”, the Kryha Standard. Date of manufacture: about 1926
The legendary Enigma cipher machine was developed in the early 1920s by the German engineer Artur Scherbius in Berlin and initially marketed for commercial purposes. The machine has three rotors, each of which performs an alphabetic substitution cipher. By combining the rotors in series and using a plugboard with variable wiring, very complex scrambling of the message can be achieved. Date of manufacture: about 1942
The T52 e was a World War II German cipher machine and teleprinter. Due to its size and weight, however, it was only ever used as a stationary device. Unlike the Enigma, messages were encrypted and deciphered automatically. On 20 July 1944, the resistance group led by Claus von Stauffenberg used the device to issue encrypted commands for Operation Valkyrie, the plot to assassinate Hitler. Date of manufacture: 1942
The first functioning electronic computer consisted of 40 panels with almost 18,000 vacuum tubes. J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly were commissioned to construct a vacuum-tube computer by the US Army in 1943. ENIAC, which was 1,000 times faster than other calculating machines, was developed by the young scientists at the Moore School of Electronics in Philadelphia. It required just eight hours to perform calculations that had previously taken an entire year. The high processing capacity was needed by the US Army to calculate artillery firing tables. Mauchly wanted to use ENIAC’s speed to produce more accurate weather forecasts, which is why its inventors built a “universal machine“. Date of manufacture: 1946
The history of IBM in Germany dates back to 1910, with the founding of DEHOMAG (Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH) in Berlin. The company was renamed IBM Deutschland GmbH in 1949, when it relocated to Böblingen. The D 11 tabulator, which was manufactured from 1935 onwards, was the first German machine of its kind. Used for punched card analysis, its ability to read, count, compute and print cards made it the mainstay of many so-called Hollerith departments. The machine proved a milestone in the development of punched card technology: It was on sale until 1960, latterly as the IBM D11 Type 450. Around 1,100 D 11 models were sold in all. Date of manufacture: between 1949 and 1960
In the early days of telephony, calls were connected manually by a switchboard operator . The next stage of development saw the introduction of automatic telephone exchanges which dispensed with the need for human intervention. A local telephone exchange establishes connections between the subscribers of a local network. In this case, an analogue electrical signal is switched via electromechanical components. If the first digit dialled by the subscriber is a zero, he or she is put through to the trunk or long-distance exchange. The electromechanical system exhibited here was in use in Hagen-Eilpe until 1994, when it was replaced by a digital switching system.
The W48 desktop telephone was developed for the Deutsche Bundespost by Siemens & Halske in 1948 in the western zone of occupied Germany and produced in very large quantities. Date of manufacture: 1954
This is the first computer developed by Heinz Nixdorf. He started work in July 1952 and it took him 15 months to complete. The electronic balancer is equipped with vacuum tubes. It is a one-off machine built especially for materials management at Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), where it supplemented the work of a Remington Rand tabulating machine, whose mechanical mode of operation was no match for the much faster Nixdorf electronics. Date of manufacture: 1953
The accounting machine Exacta-Continental 6000 was the ultimate in electromechanical office equipment: it could manage all accounting tasks with ease. It came with an optional Multitronic electronic multiplication unit manufactured by Heinz Nixdorf’s Labor für Impulstechnik, which signalled the beginning of a new data processing era from 1958 onwards. Date of manufacture: about 1958
The Zuse Z 11 was the first programmable relay computer from ZUSE KG to go into series production. It was used for mathematical calculations, its hard-wired programs having been designed for surveying tasks in particular. The last in a development series of electro-mechanically controlled computer systems, it contained relays as binary switching elements. These may have been slower than vacuum tubes, but were also more reliable, more durable and less expensive. Date of manufacture: 1958
The Curta is the only mechanical pocket calculator that is capable of performing all four basic arithmetic operations. The inventor of this precision-engineered masterpiece was an Austrian, Curt Herzstark (1902-1988). Date of manufacture: about 1965
The Anita was the first all-electronic, tube-based desktop calculator. Not only was it completely silent, but it operated much faster than mechanical machines, and was maintenance-free too. However, tubes were not an optimum technical solution for desktop calculators as they used a lot of electricity, were relatively susceptible to breakage and were expensive to produce. For this reason, this technology remained unique to the Anita. Mass production of such devices only became an option once transistors started to be used from around 1964 onwards. Date of manufacture: 1961
The linotype machine was a “line casting” machine used in printing. It replaced the extremely time-consuming manual type-setting process. The machine, which was patented in 1886, mechanised the setting and casting of letters. The setter entered text at a keyboard: every time a key was pressed, a matrix of the chosen letter fell into position from a magazine. The assembled line of matrices was cast as a single piece of type metal and filled with liquid lead once the spaces between words had been automatically adjusted. After cooling, this produced “A LINE OF TYPES”. Date of manufacture: 1962
At the start of the 1950s, VEB Optima Büromaschinenwerk Erfurt was asked to develop a typewriter for China as part of e socialist initiative to support allied nations. The Erfurt manufacturers based their design on the box-type typewriter first sold in 1917 by Nippon Typewriter Co. Ltd. in Tokyo. The “Chinese Optima” made its début in 1953. Subsequently, the Chinese bicycle factory “Flying Dove” took over production of the device, two versions of which were produced in China under the “Flying Dove” brand until the end of 1992. Date of manufacture: 1992
This computer originated from the Gemini II mission; it featured in an unmanned space flight on 19.01.1965. The Mercury and Gemini space programmes laid the groundwork for the moon landing. From 1963 onwards, the Gemini missions tested orbital coupling manoeuvres necessary to achieve rendezvous and docking. Safe, accurate manoeuvring was only possible with the aid of a computer. IBM’s commission to develop the on-board computer was worth $26.6 million. It was the first computer to have a magnetic core memory so that data was not destroyed when read out. It was also IBM’s first computer to be fully transistorised. The computer proved reliable in operation. Date of manufacture: about 1964
In 1965, the Digital Equipment Corporation presented the PDP-8, thereby marking the beginning of the mini-computer era. Priced at just 18,200 Dollars, this general-purpose computer was robust enough to be used in both production and laboratory environments. Some 10,000 of them were sold within the space of 10 years; by 1975, the PDP-8 cost just 2,600 Dollars. A whole variety of manufacturers tapped into the new market, building computers based on the PDP-8 for use in process and manufacturing technology and for controlling experiments in research. By 1975, more than 30 companies in the West German market alone were selling mini-computers. Date of manufacture: 1965
In 1964, Nixdorf developed the electronics for a desk-top calculator produced by office equipment manufacturer Wanderer, later building the components itself under licence. The “Wanderer Conti” was presented to the public for the first time in 1965 at the Hanover Trade Fair. It was the world’s first fully electronic desk-top calculator with printing output. In terms of design, the four-species calculator was a bona fide computer, boasting an arithmetic unit, a magnetic core memory, a printer and a threaded read-only memory (ROM). The Conti enabled Nixdorf to gain a foothold in the US market when the Chicago-based Victor Comptometer Corporation placed an order worth DM 100 million for the machine in 1968. Date of manufacture: 1966
The Olivetti Valentine is a mechanical typewriter that stands out largely by virtue of its unconventional appearance. It is regarded as a milestone in industrial design and is a sought-after collector’s item. Date of manufacture: early 1970s
The great success enjoyed by Nixdorf at the end of the 1960s and start of the 1970s was based largely on the computers of the 820 series. These were universal computers for companies of all sizes and could be used for almost any application area thanks to their modular construction and consistent application of the modular design system. Date of manufacture: 1974
Canon Canola Pocketronic, Sanyo ICC-82D, Sharp EL-8: The first battery-operated electronic pocket calculators were brought out virtually simultaneously in 1970 by Japanese firms Sanyo, Sharp and Canon. However, the "heart" of these first pocket calculators – the microchip – was produced by US companies such as Texas Instruments and Rockwell. Texas Instruments had developed the first portable prototype as early as 1967. But the Cal-Tech, as it was known, was merely supposed to demonstrate the power of the new chip and never went into series production. The huge sales potential of the pocket calculator had yet to be recognised, especially since it was still too expensive to produce. It was for this reason that Texas Instruments sold the technical design of the Cal-Tech to Canon, and only brought out its own pocket calculator in 1972. Date of manufacture: 1970
The Odyssey console laid the foundations for the video game era. In 1966 Ralph Baer, a US engineer of German descent, filed a patent for a kind of ping-pong game. This was ultimately granted in 1968. It was not until 1972 that the game was distributed with a gaming console by Magnavox. Poor marketing meant that although the video game wasn’t a commercial flop, it wasn’t a resounding financial success either. Date of manufacture: 1972
The HP-35 was the world's first scientific pocket calculator. Before it came along, slide rules and logarithm tables were required for trigonometric and exponential functions. Pocket calculators were only capable of the four basic arithmetic operations. The price for an HP-35 in 1972 was about DM 2,000. Date of manufacture: 1972
In 1970, the photocopier company Xerox founded a research centre in Palo Alto known as PARC. This is where the Xerox Alto was developed, a forerunner of much of the PC technology taken for granted today. The Alto had a graphical user interface and a mouse, and was the model on which first the Macintosh, then Windows were based. It was also fully network-capable: the Ethernet was another Xerox PARC invention. Many Alto system engineers later worked on the Apple Macintosh. Only around 1,000 examples of the Alto were built; it was a prototype and was never launched on the market. Date of manufacture: 1973
The January 1975 issue of the magazine Popular Electronics featured the forerunner of the first personal computer, the Altair 8800, which had been designed by Ed Roberts and his company MITS. It was available as a kit for 397 US dollars, making it the first computer that ordinary consumers could afford and marking the advent of widespread PC use. Incidentally, the Altair's name comes from a TV series. The twelve-year-old daughter of editor Les Solomon said: “Call it Altair. That's where the Enterprise is heading tonight.“ Date of manufacture: 1975
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple on 1 April 1976. Soon afterwards, they presented their first computer: the Apple I. A total of only 200 Apple I computers were made. Jobs and Wozniak built it in Jobs's parents' garage in Los Altos, California and sold it for $666. The Apple I was actually just a circuit board. Users had to make their own housing for it and add input and output devices themselves. There are still around 70 Apple I computers in existence worldwide. Date of manufacture: 1976
The Apple II was the first “personal“ desktop computer to achieve commercial success. In contrast to the Apple I, the main board was supplied in a plastic housing together with a keyboard, a monitor and software.  The Apple Writer word processor and VisiCalc spreadsheet software were key to its success. The Apple II marked the start of Apple's rise to become the world's most successful company. Date of manufacture: 1977
The computer centre from the Sachsenwerk in Dresden is part of a system that was only shut down in 1993. It played a role in GDR computer history and a part in the success story of a major computer system. The Einheitliches System Elektronischer Rechenanlagen (standardized system of electronic computers) is the functional replica of an IBM computer: ESER 1055 is compatible with the 370/155 in terms of hardware and software alike. These computer systems were built until well into the 1980s. Date of manufacture: about 1979
Whenever computers were mentioned in the 1960s and 1970s, IBM was the name on everyone's lips. Despite this, the manufacturing giant was so slow to react that it almost missed out on the personal computer revolution, eventually launching its own PC 5150 in August 1981. The device proved an immediate hit, becoming an office mainstay. After all, it was a product of THE computer company, a fact which engendered trust among businesses that had not had any faith in the models available on the market thus far. The IBM PC, which ran with Microsoft's DOS operating system, provided the industry standard that had been lacking for so long. Date of manufacture: 1984
When Adam Osborne founded his computer firm, he was already well-known on the burgeoning home-computer scene thanks to numerous books and articles he had published. Although others before him had toyed with the idea of building a portable computer, his model, the Osborne 1, was the first on the market. Compared with today’s laptops, the Osborne 1 was extremely heavy and unwieldy. Despite this drawback, it proved a big success and almost became a cult object. Unfortunately, Osborne’s company went bankrupt in 1983. Date of manufacture: 1983
Commodore presented the C64 in 1982. Two years after its launch, four million units had already been sold, breaking all previous records for computer sales. Ultimately, a total of over 20 million C64 computers were sold throughout the world. The C64 was sometimes referred to as the “breadbox“ or even the “neck rest“ due to its shape. Date of manufacture: 1982
Motorola launched the first commercial mobile phone in 1983: the Dynatac 8000X. This bulky forebear of today's mobile phones weighed almost 750 grams and cost around $400. Date of manufacture: 1983
Apple launched the Macintosh on 24 January 1984. The Mac broke with all the previously accepted notions about PCs. When Jef Raskin, the father of the Mac, proposed the project in 1979, his idea was to design a computer that was geared to people. The Mac enabled normal users to become acquainted with the graphical user interface featuring desktop, mouse and windows. All they had to do beforehand was to unpack it and plug it in. Although the Mac lost out to the IBM PCs in the office environment, it revolutionised the entire graphic design industry. Date of manufacture: 1984
The Cray-2 was the fastest computer in the world in 1985. It weighed 2.5 tonnes. It was supplied as a supercomputer with up to four processors, a peak performance of 2 GFLOPS, 2 GB of memory and a maximum clock speed of 4.1 ns. It is notable for its striking design. A total of 27 units were sold. Date of manufacture: 1985
The Nintendo Game Boy proved to be one of the most successful products in the company’s history. The hand-held video game device was launched on the market in a plain grey-and-white version in 1989. Its robust technology, ease of operation and low battery consumption all helped to make it the biggest-selling console of the time. Although the Game Boy was initially only available with the game Tetris, strangely enough this became part of its appeal: it wasn’t just for hard-core players, but for everyone. The Game Boy was manufactured until 2002 and 120 million devices were sold in all. Date of manufacture: about 1990
The Newton was Apple’s attempt to create a revolutionary new device. A feature of the PDA (Private Digital Assistant) was handwriting recognition software; the device also came with a stylus which was supposed to make entering text child’s play. The touch-sensitive screen would detect characters and words automatically as they were written. However, this feature never really worked properly at market launch, something which gave rise to less than glowing reviews in the press. The project was halted in 1998 when company founder Steve Jobs re-joined the company. Date of manufacture: 1993
Robot soccer represents a major challenge for researchers in the field of artificial intelligence. A proving ground for the state of science in this field, it is also a means of promoting university-level education. Since 1997, international RoboCup matches featuring research teams from all over the world have been held in various leagues. This model – a third-generation, Middle Size League robot – belongs to the Fraunhofer Institut. Each robot has its own sensors and can make decisions completely autonomously. The robots can, however, communicate wirelessly with one another and with a computer. Date of manufacture: 1999
The robot dog AIBO was perhaps the most technically sophisticated toy ever to be created by its Japanese manufacturer Sony: the battery-operated dog came with 18 electrically controlled joints, microphones, loudspeakers, emotion display, 64-bit processor and a balance system to enable it to stand up. Date of manufacture: 1999
Lauron stands for “LAUfROboter Neuronal gesteuert” (English: “Walking Robot, Neural Controlled”). The walking robot (the 3rd generation of which is on show) was developed in order to research statically stable walking in rough terrain. Its movements are biologically inspired, mimicking those of a stick insect. Each leg can respond semi-autonomously to impulses; the movements are coordinated at a higher level. Lauron is able to gather information about its environment and plan a path towards a given goal autonomously. While walking, the robot uses sensors to detect potential obstacles and then either walks over or around them. Date of manufacture: 1999
Using a camera, this 2nd-generation face robot scans the viewer’s facial expression, which is then recognised and interpreted by software based on a neural net. From a repertoire of pre-programmed responses, the robot’s mechanism is activated and a matching facial expression is generated. The mechanical and electronic parts of the Mark II were covered by a silicone skin to create a robot face that looks as human as possible. Fumio Hara, Science University of Tokyo, Japan, 2001
RoboThespian is a life-sized humanoid robot designed for human interaction in public environments. It can sing as well as tell jokes and recite text passages. Visitors can choose from a selection of programmed text sequences for the metallic creation to read out, accompanied by a range of gestures. Date of manufacture: 2011
The earliest documents written on clay tablets in cuneiform script were used for tax and accounting purposes. Records were kept of the bread rations paid to workers, for example. The precise history is not known. About 2350-2100 BC
Wilhelm Schickard wanted to “mechanise” the laborious and error-prone task of calculating astronomical tables. In 1623 he had two calculating machines built to his specifications in a mechanic’s workshop in Tübingen – one for himself, the other for Johannes Kepler. The practical benefits of his “calculating clock” appeared somewhat dubious at the time, as the system based on logarithmic tables was superior. Regrettably, both machines were destroyed in a fire at the workshop and the invention was forgotten. This reconstruction of the machine by Baron von Freytag Löringhoff was completed in 1957. Date of manufacture: 1957
In 1678, French watchmaker René Grillet presented the “Machine arithmétique” which was capable of carrying out all four basic arithmetic operations. Constructed largely out of paper, the invention used so-called Napier’s rods that had been around since 1617 for the calculation process. It is an excellent example of the early days of mechanical calculation and an ancestor of today’s pocket calculator. Date of manufacture: 1678
This calculating machine, invented by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, was built in the years from 1690 to 1720. It represents a historic milestone in the development of mechanical calculating machines because it was the first to perform all four arithmetic operations. Leibniz's operating mechanism, known as the stepped cylinder or Leibniz wheel, allowed multiplication to be performed mechanically and remained an indispensable component of mechanical calculators for over 200 years. Functioning replica of the only remaining original (at the Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek in Hanover), built to plans by N. Joachim Lehmann. HNF replica: 1995
The device popularly known as the “Chess Turk“ was built in 1769 by Austrian court official Wolfgang von Kempelen in such a way as to convince spectators that they were watching an “automated chess player“. In fact an individual of quite normal size sat inside and controlled the gripper arm with the aid of levers and cable winches. Magnetised chess pieces and small magnetic pins on the underside of the board enabled the moves to be followed by the person within. Functional HNF replica: 2004
An Arithmometer is a mechanical calculating machine invented by the Frenchman Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar (1785-1870). It was the world's first calculating machine to go into series production. As well as addition and subtraction, it could perform multiplication and division by means of repeated addition and subtraction. This luxury version of the calculating machine was a gift to the king of Portugal. Date of manufacture: about 1855
The Hansen Writing Ball was the world's first typewriter to be produced commercially, albeit in small batches. It was developed in 1865 by Rasmus Johann Malling-Hansen, a Danish pastor and teacher of deaf-mutes. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a well-known user. Date of manufacture: about 1878
The name Morse and the code of the same name became synonymous with telegraphy. His procedure for transmitting text information via a series of pulses (dots and dashes) and the silences between them helped the technology achieve a breakthrough. The most important components of the Ericsson Morse Telegraph Type TA 100 for receiving messages (“sounder”) are an electromagnet, an armature, a mechanical clockwork to move the paper tape, a coloured stylus and a roll of paper. A Morse key is required to transmit messages. Date of manufacture: about 1880
In 1883, Englishman Joseph Edmondson obtained a patent for a circular calculating machine based on the stepped-drum mechanism. His design was based on Thomas de Colmar’s simple “arithmomètre”. The advantage of Edmondson’s machine was that it was not limited to a certain number of decimal places if a division produced a remainder. Date of manufacture: about 1885
This machine is a replica of the first Hollerith machine that was used so successfully to complete the first census in the USA thanks to the use of punched cards. It provided a much faster way of counting the vast amount of data gathered. The Hollerith machine consists of two hinged plates, a switch panel with relays, a counting device with 40 counters and a sorting box. When one of the pins on the plates meets a hole in the punched card, a circuit is completed and an electric pulse causes the pointer of a counter to advance accordingly. The respective compartment of the sorting box is also opened, and the operator can place the analysed punched card into it by hand. Functional HNF replica: 2006
The comptometer was the first exclusively key-driven mechanical calculator. The “wooden box” was a precursor to the full-keyboard adding machines built between 1886 and 1904. According to its manufacturer’s promotional material, it was the world’s first adding machine with a practical application. Date of manufacture: about 1900
The Underwood No. 5, which appeared in 1900, was the first classic modern typewriter (with visible text, upper- and lower-case letters and tab stops). It set the standard for all subsequent typewriters worldwide until they were superseded first by IBM electric typewriters, which used a type ball instead of type bars, and then by PCs. Date of manufacture: 1915
This extremely compact table-top telephone with a quirky design was also known as the “Pferdefuss” or “horse’s hoof” in Bavaria due to its shape. It was the approved standard dialling apparatus only in Bavaria. Incidentally, the device was referred to as the “cow’s hoof” in Prussia. Date of manufacture: from 1925 onwards
In 1879 the Ritty brothers filed a patent application for the first cash register in the USA. Businessman John H. Patterson acquired the rights to manufacture cash registers in 1884 and founded the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio. The NCR 400 series models were among the standard cash registers in use at the time. They were favoured by retail outlets because of their robust nature. Model 422 has five rows of keys and features 42 keys in all. The indicators are in English and show sums of pounds and pence. Date of manufacture: 1910
The Kryha Liliput is a very rare cipher machine in pocket-watch format. The machine consisted of two concentric rings, each featuring an alphabet and numbers. The user would operate it by pushing a lever to step the inner ring a random number of places against the outer ring, thereby changing the relationship between the two. Although Kryha’s devices were a commercial success, they were cryptographically weak as the period lengths of the codes were generally quite short. The Kryha Liliput was cryptographically compatible with its “big sister”, the Kryha Standard. Date of manufacture: about 1926
The legendary Enigma cipher machine was developed in the early 1920s by the German engineer Artur Scherbius in Berlin and initially marketed for commercial purposes. The machine has three rotors, each of which performs an alphabetic substitution cipher. By combining the rotors in series and using a plugboard with variable wiring, very complex scrambling of the message can be achieved. Date of manufacture: about 1942
The T52 e was a World War II German cipher machine and teleprinter. Due to its size and weight, however, it was only ever used as a stationary device. Unlike the Enigma, messages were encrypted and deciphered automatically. On 20 July 1944, the resistance group led by Claus von Stauffenberg used the device to issue encrypted commands for Operation Valkyrie, the plot to assassinate Hitler. Date of manufacture: 1942
The first functioning electronic computer consisted of 40 panels with almost 18,000 vacuum tubes. J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly were commissioned to construct a vacuum-tube computer by the US Army in 1943. ENIAC, which was 1,000 times faster than other calculating machines, was developed by the young scientists at the Moore School of Electronics in Philadelphia. It required just eight hours to perform calculations that had previously taken an entire year. The high processing capacity was needed by the US Army to calculate artillery firing tables. Mauchly wanted to use ENIAC’s speed to produce more accurate weather forecasts, which is why its inventors built a “universal machine“. Date of manufacture: 1946
The history of IBM in Germany dates back to 1910, with the founding of DEHOMAG (Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH) in Berlin. The company was renamed IBM Deutschland GmbH in 1949, when it relocated to Böblingen. The D 11 tabulator, which was manufactured from 1935 onwards, was the first German machine of its kind. Used for punched card analysis, its ability to read, count, compute and print cards made it the mainstay of many so-called Hollerith departments. The machine proved a milestone in the development of punched card technology: It was on sale until 1960, latterly as the IBM D11 Type 450. Around 1,100 D 11 models were sold in all. Date of manufacture: between 1949 and 1960
In the early days of telephony, calls were connected manually by a switchboard operator . The next stage of development saw the introduction of automatic telephone exchanges which dispensed with the need for human intervention. A local telephone exchange establishes connections between the subscribers of a local network. In this case, an analogue electrical signal is switched via electromechanical components. If the first digit dialled by the subscriber is a zero, he or she is put through to the trunk or long-distance exchange. The electromechanical system exhibited here was in use in Hagen-Eilpe until 1994, when it was replaced by a digital switching system.
The W48 desktop telephone was developed for the Deutsche Bundespost by Siemens & Halske in 1948 in the western zone of occupied Germany and produced in very large quantities. Date of manufacture: 1954
This is the first computer developed by Heinz Nixdorf. He started work in July 1952 and it took him 15 months to complete. The electronic balancer is equipped with vacuum tubes. It is a one-off machine built especially for materials management at Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), where it supplemented the work of a Remington Rand tabulating machine, whose mechanical mode of operation was no match for the much faster Nixdorf electronics. Date of manufacture: 1953
The accounting machine Exacta-Continental 6000 was the ultimate in electromechanical office equipment: it could manage all accounting tasks with ease. It came with an optional Multitronic electronic multiplication unit manufactured by Heinz Nixdorf’s Labor für Impulstechnik, which signalled the beginning of a new data processing era from 1958 onwards. Date of manufacture: about 1958
The Zuse Z 11 was the first programmable relay computer from ZUSE KG to go into series production. It was used for mathematical calculations, its hard-wired programs having been designed for surveying tasks in particular. The last in a development series of electro-mechanically controlled computer systems, it contained relays as binary switching elements. These may have been slower than vacuum tubes, but were also more reliable, more durable and less expensive. Date of manufacture: 1958
The Curta is the only mechanical pocket calculator that is capable of performing all four basic arithmetic operations. The inventor of this precision-engineered masterpiece was an Austrian, Curt Herzstark (1902-1988). Date of manufacture: about 1965
The Anita was the first all-electronic, tube-based desktop calculator. Not only was it completely silent, but it operated much faster than mechanical machines, and was maintenance-free too. However, tubes were not an optimum technical solution for desktop calculators as they used a lot of electricity, were relatively susceptible to breakage and were expensive to produce. For this reason, this technology remained unique to the Anita. Mass production of such devices only became an option once transistors started to be used from around 1964 onwards. Date of manufacture: 1961
The linotype machine was a “line casting” machine used in printing. It replaced the extremely time-consuming manual type-setting process. The machine, which was patented in 1886, mechanised the setting and casting of letters. The setter entered text at a keyboard: every time a key was pressed, a matrix of the chosen letter fell into position from a magazine. The assembled line of matrices was cast as a single piece of type metal and filled with liquid lead once the spaces between words had been automatically adjusted. After cooling, this produced “A LINE OF TYPES”. Date of manufacture: 1962
At the start of the 1950s, VEB Optima Büromaschinenwerk Erfurt was asked to develop a typewriter for China as part of e socialist initiative to support allied nations. The Erfurt manufacturers based their design on the box-type typewriter first sold in 1917 by Nippon Typewriter Co. Ltd. in Tokyo. The “Chinese Optima” made its début in 1953. Subsequently, the Chinese bicycle factory “Flying Dove” took over production of the device, two versions of which were produced in China under the “Flying Dove” brand until the end of 1992. Date of manufacture: 1992
This computer originated from the Gemini II mission; it featured in an unmanned space flight on 19.01.1965. The Mercury and Gemini space programmes laid the groundwork for the moon landing. From 1963 onwards, the Gemini missions tested orbital coupling manoeuvres necessary to achieve rendezvous and docking. Safe, accurate manoeuvring was only possible with the aid of a computer. IBM’s commission to develop the on-board computer was worth $26.6 million. It was the first computer to have a magnetic core memory so that data was not destroyed when read out. It was also IBM’s first computer to be fully transistorised. The computer proved reliable in operation. Date of manufacture: about 1964
In 1965, the Digital Equipment Corporation presented the PDP-8, thereby marking the beginning of the mini-computer era. Priced at just 18,200 Dollars, this general-purpose computer was robust enough to be used in both production and laboratory environments. Some 10,000 of them were sold within the space of 10 years; by 1975, the PDP-8 cost just 2,600 Dollars. A whole variety of manufacturers tapped into the new market, building computers based on the PDP-8 for use in process and manufacturing technology and for controlling experiments in research. By 1975, more than 30 companies in the West German market alone were selling mini-computers. Date of manufacture: 1965
In 1964, Nixdorf developed the electronics for a desk-top calculator produced by office equipment manufacturer Wanderer, later building the components itself under licence. The “Wanderer Conti” was presented to the public for the first time in 1965 at the Hanover Trade Fair. It was the world’s first fully electronic desk-top calculator with printing output. In terms of design, the four-species calculator was a bona fide computer, boasting an arithmetic unit, a magnetic core memory, a printer and a threaded read-only memory (ROM). The Conti enabled Nixdorf to gain a foothold in the US market when the Chicago-based Victor Comptometer Corporation placed an order worth DM 100 million for the machine in 1968. Date of manufacture: 1966
The Olivetti Valentine is a mechanical typewriter that stands out largely by virtue of its unconventional appearance. It is regarded as a milestone in industrial design and is a sought-after collector’s item. Date of manufacture: early 1970s
The great success enjoyed by Nixdorf at the end of the 1960s and start of the 1970s was based largely on the computers of the 820 series. These were universal computers for companies of all sizes and could be used for almost any application area thanks to their modular construction and consistent application of the modular design system. Date of manufacture: 1974
Canon Canola Pocketronic, Sanyo ICC-82D, Sharp EL-8: The first battery-operated electronic pocket calculators were brought out virtually simultaneously in 1970 by Japanese firms Sanyo, Sharp and Canon. However, the "heart" of these first pocket calculators – the microchip – was produced by US companies such as Texas Instruments and Rockwell. Texas Instruments had developed the first portable prototype as early as 1967. But the Cal-Tech, as it was known, was merely supposed to demonstrate the power of the new chip and never went into series production. The huge sales potential of the pocket calculator had yet to be recognised, especially since it was still too expensive to produce. It was for this reason that Texas Instruments sold the technical design of the Cal-Tech to Canon, and only brought out its own pocket calculator in 1972. Date of manufacture: 1970
The Odyssey console laid the foundations for the video game era. In 1966 Ralph Baer, a US engineer of German descent, filed a patent for a kind of ping-pong game. This was ultimately granted in 1968. It was not until 1972 that the game was distributed with a gaming console by Magnavox. Poor marketing meant that although the video game wasn’t a commercial flop, it wasn’t a resounding financial success either. Date of manufacture: 1972
The HP-35 was the world's first scientific pocket calculator. Before it came along, slide rules and logarithm tables were required for trigonometric and exponential functions. Pocket calculators were only capable of the four basic arithmetic operations. The price for an HP-35 in 1972 was about DM 2,000. Date of manufacture: 1972
In 1970, the photocopier company Xerox founded a research centre in Palo Alto known as PARC. This is where the Xerox Alto was developed, a forerunner of much of the PC technology taken for granted today. The Alto had a graphical user interface and a mouse, and was the model on which first the Macintosh, then Windows were based. It was also fully network-capable: the Ethernet was another Xerox PARC invention. Many Alto system engineers later worked on the Apple Macintosh. Only around 1,000 examples of the Alto were built; it was a prototype and was never launched on the market. Date of manufacture: 1973
The January 1975 issue of the magazine Popular Electronics featured the forerunner of the first personal computer, the Altair 8800, which had been designed by Ed Roberts and his company MITS. It was available as a kit for 397 US dollars, making it the first computer that ordinary consumers could afford and marking the advent of widespread PC use. Incidentally, the Altair's name comes from a TV series. The twelve-year-old daughter of editor Les Solomon said: “Call it Altair. That's where the Enterprise is heading tonight.“ Date of manufacture: 1975
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple on 1 April 1976. Soon afterwards, they presented their first computer: the Apple I. A total of only 200 Apple I computers were made. Jobs and Wozniak built it in Jobs's parents' garage in Los Altos, California and sold it for $666. The Apple I was actually just a circuit board. Users had to make their own housing for it and add input and output devices themselves. There are still around 70 Apple I computers in existence worldwide. Date of manufacture: 1976
The Apple II was the first “personal“ desktop computer to achieve commercial success. In contrast to the Apple I, the main board was supplied in a plastic housing together with a keyboard, a monitor and software.  The Apple Writer word processor and VisiCalc spreadsheet software were key to its success. The Apple II marked the start of Apple's rise to become the world's most successful company. Date of manufacture: 1977
The computer centre from the Sachsenwerk in Dresden is part of a system that was only shut down in 1993. It played a role in GDR computer history and a part in the success story of a major computer system. The Einheitliches System Elektronischer Rechenanlagen (standardized system of electronic computers) is the functional replica of an IBM computer: ESER 1055 is compatible with the 370/155 in terms of hardware and software alike. These computer systems were built until well into the 1980s. Date of manufacture: about 1979
Whenever computers were mentioned in the 1960s and 1970s, IBM was the name on everyone's lips. Despite this, the manufacturing giant was so slow to react that it almost missed out on the personal computer revolution, eventually launching its own PC 5150 in August 1981. The device proved an immediate hit, becoming an office mainstay. After all, it was a product of THE computer company, a fact which engendered trust among businesses that had not had any faith in the models available on the market thus far. The IBM PC, which ran with Microsoft's DOS operating system, provided the industry standard that had been lacking for so long. Date of manufacture: 1984
When Adam Osborne founded his computer firm, he was already well-known on the burgeoning home-computer scene thanks to numerous books and articles he had published. Although others before him had toyed with the idea of building a portable computer, his model, the Osborne 1, was the first on the market. Compared with today’s laptops, the Osborne 1 was extremely heavy and unwieldy. Despite this drawback, it proved a big success and almost became a cult object. Unfortunately, Osborne’s company went bankrupt in 1983. Date of manufacture: 1983
Commodore presented the C64 in 1982. Two years after its launch, four million units had already been sold, breaking all previous records for computer sales. Ultimately, a total of over 20 million C64 computers were sold throughout the world. The C64 was sometimes referred to as the “breadbox“ or even the “neck rest“ due to its shape. Date of manufacture: 1982
Motorola launched the first commercial mobile phone in 1983: the Dynatac 8000X. This bulky forebear of today's mobile phones weighed almost 750 grams and cost around $400. Date of manufacture: 1983
Apple launched the Macintosh on 24 January 1984. The Mac broke with all the previously accepted notions about PCs. When Jef Raskin, the father of the Mac, proposed the project in 1979, his idea was to design a computer that was geared to people. The Mac enabled normal users to become acquainted with the graphical user interface featuring desktop, mouse and windows. All they had to do beforehand was to unpack it and plug it in. Although the Mac lost out to the IBM PCs in the office environment, it revolutionised the entire graphic design industry. Date of manufacture: 1984
The Cray-2 was the fastest computer in the world in 1985. It weighed 2.5 tonnes. It was supplied as a supercomputer with up to four processors, a peak performance of 2 GFLOPS, 2 GB of memory and a maximum clock speed of 4.1 ns. It is notable for its striking design. A total of 27 units were sold. Date of manufacture: 1985
The Nintendo Game Boy proved to be one of the most successful products in the company’s history. The hand-held video game device was launched on the market in a plain grey-and-white version in 1989. Its robust technology, ease of operation and low battery consumption all helped to make it the biggest-selling console of the time. Although the Game Boy was initially only available with the game Tetris, strangely enough this became part of its appeal: it wasn’t just for hard-core players, but for everyone. The Game Boy was manufactured until 2002 and 120 million devices were sold in all. Date of manufacture: about 1990
The Newton was Apple’s attempt to create a revolutionary new device. A feature of the PDA (Private Digital Assistant) was handwriting recognition software; the device also came with a stylus which was supposed to make entering text child’s play. The touch-sensitive screen would detect characters and words automatically as they were written. However, this feature never really worked properly at market launch, something which gave rise to less than glowing reviews in the press. The project was halted in 1998 when company founder Steve Jobs re-joined the company. Date of manufacture: 1993
Robot soccer represents a major challenge for researchers in the field of artificial intelligence. A proving ground for the state of science in this field, it is also a means of promoting university-level education. Since 1997, international RoboCup matches featuring research teams from all over the world have been held in various leagues. This model – a third-generation, Middle Size League robot – belongs to the Fraunhofer Institut. Each robot has its own sensors and can make decisions completely autonomously. The robots can, however, communicate wirelessly with one another and with a computer. Date of manufacture: 1999
The robot dog AIBO was perhaps the most technically sophisticated toy ever to be created by its Japanese manufacturer Sony: the battery-operated dog came with 18 electrically controlled joints, microphones, loudspeakers, emotion display, 64-bit processor and a balance system to enable it to stand up. Date of manufacture: 1999
Lauron stands for “LAUfROboter Neuronal gesteuert” (English: “Walking Robot, Neural Controlled”). The walking robot (the 3rd generation of which is on show) was developed in order to research statically stable walking in rough terrain. Its movements are biologically inspired, mimicking those of a stick insect. Each leg can respond semi-autonomously to impulses; the movements are coordinated at a higher level. Lauron is able to gather information about its environment and plan a path towards a given goal autonomously. While walking, the robot uses sensors to detect potential obstacles and then either walks over or around them. Date of manufacture: 1999
Using a camera, this 2nd-generation face robot scans the viewer’s facial expression, which is then recognised and interpreted by software based on a neural net. From a repertoire of pre-programmed responses, the robot’s mechanism is activated and a matching facial expression is generated. The mechanical and electronic parts of the Mark II were covered by a silicone skin to create a robot face that looks as human as possible. Fumio Hara, Science University of Tokyo, Japan, 2001
RoboThespian is a life-sized humanoid robot designed for human interaction in public environments. It can sing as well as tell jokes and recite text passages. Visitors can choose from a selection of programmed text sequences for the metallic creation to read out, accompanied by a range of gestures. Date of manufacture: 2011
The earliest documents written on clay tablets in cuneiform script were used for tax and accounting purposes. Records were kept of the bread rations paid to workers, for example. The precise history is not known. About 2350-2100 BC
Wilhelm Schickard wanted to “mechanise” the laborious and error-prone task of calculating astronomical tables. In 1623 he had two calculating machines built to his specifications in a mechanic’s workshop in Tübingen – one for himself, the other for Johannes Kepler. The practical benefits of his “calculating clock” appeared somewhat dubious at the time, as the system based on logarithmic tables was superior. Regrettably, both machines were destroyed in a fire at the workshop and the invention was forgotten. This reconstruction of the machine by Baron von Freytag Löringhoff was completed in 1957. Date of manufacture: 1957
In 1678, French watchmaker René Grillet presented the “Machine arithmétique” which was capable of carrying out all four basic arithmetic operations. Constructed largely out of paper, the invention used so-called Napier’s rods that had been around since 1617 for the calculation process. It is an excellent example of the early days of mechanical calculation and an ancestor of today’s pocket calculator. Date of manufacture: 1678
This calculating machine, invented by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, was built in the years from 1690 to 1720. It represents a historic milestone in the development of mechanical calculating machines because it was the first to perform all four arithmetic operations. Leibniz's operating mechanism, known as the stepped cylinder or Leibniz wheel, allowed multiplication to be performed mechanically and remained an indispensable component of mechanical calculators for over 200 years. Functioning replica of the only remaining original (at the Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek in Hanover), built to plans by N. Joachim Lehmann. HNF replica: 1995
The device popularly known as the “Chess Turk“ was built in 1769 by Austrian court official Wolfgang von Kempelen in such a way as to convince spectators that they were watching an “automated chess player“. In fact an individual of quite normal size sat inside and controlled the gripper arm with the aid of levers and cable winches. Magnetised chess pieces and small magnetic pins on the underside of the board enabled the moves to be followed by the person within. Functional HNF replica: 2004
An Arithmometer is a mechanical calculating machine invented by the Frenchman Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar (1785-1870). It was the world's first calculating machine to go into series production. As well as addition and subtraction, it could perform multiplication and division by means of repeated addition and subtraction. This luxury version of the calculating machine was a gift to the king of Portugal. Date of manufacture: about 1855
The Hansen Writing Ball was the world's first typewriter to be produced commercially, albeit in small batches. It was developed in 1865 by Rasmus Johann Malling-Hansen, a Danish pastor and teacher of deaf-mutes. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a well-known user. Date of manufacture: about 1878
The name Morse and the code of the same name became synonymous with telegraphy. His procedure for transmitting text information via a series of pulses (dots and dashes) and the silences between them helped the technology achieve a breakthrough. The most important components of the Ericsson Morse Telegraph Type TA 100 for receiving messages (“sounder”) are an electromagnet, an armature, a mechanical clockwork to move the paper tape, a coloured stylus and a roll of paper. A Morse key is required to transmit messages. Date of manufacture: about 1880
In 1883, Englishman Joseph Edmondson obtained a patent for a circular calculating machine based on the stepped-drum mechanism. His design was based on Thomas de Colmar’s simple “arithmomètre”. The advantage of Edmondson’s machine was that it was not limited to a certain number of decimal places if a division produced a remainder. Date of manufacture: about 1885
This machine is a replica of the first Hollerith machine that was used so successfully to complete the first census in the USA thanks to the use of punched cards. It provided a much faster way of counting the vast amount of data gathered. The Hollerith machine consists of two hinged plates, a switch panel with relays, a counting device with 40 counters and a sorting box. When one of the pins on the plates meets a hole in the punched card, a circuit is completed and an electric pulse causes the pointer of a counter to advance accordingly. The respective compartment of the sorting box is also opened, and the operator can place the analysed punched card into it by hand. Functional HNF replica: 2006
The comptometer was the first exclusively key-driven mechanical calculator. The “wooden box” was a precursor to the full-keyboard adding machines built between 1886 and 1904. According to its manufacturer’s promotional material, it was the world’s first adding machine with a practical application. Date of manufacture: about 1900
The Underwood No. 5, which appeared in 1900, was the first classic modern typewriter (with visible text, upper- and lower-case letters and tab stops). It set the standard for all subsequent typewriters worldwide until they were superseded first by IBM electric typewriters, which used a type ball instead of type bars, and then by PCs. Date of manufacture: 1915
This extremely compact table-top telephone with a quirky design was also known as the “Pferdefuss” or “horse’s hoof” in Bavaria due to its shape. It was the approved standard dialling apparatus only in Bavaria. Incidentally, the device was referred to as the “cow’s hoof” in Prussia. Date of manufacture: from 1925 onwards
In 1879 the Ritty brothers filed a patent application for the first cash register in the USA. Businessman John H. Patterson acquired the rights to manufacture cash registers in 1884 and founded the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio. The NCR 400 series models were among the standard cash registers in use at the time. They were favoured by retail outlets because of their robust nature. Model 422 has five rows of keys and features 42 keys in all. The indicators are in English and show sums of pounds and pence. Date of manufacture: 1910
The Kryha Liliput is a very rare cipher machine in pocket-watch format. The machine consisted of two concentric rings, each featuring an alphabet and numbers. The user would operate it by pushing a lever to step the inner ring a random number of places against the outer ring, thereby changing the relationship between the two. Although Kryha’s devices were a commercial success, they were cryptographically weak as the period lengths of the codes were generally quite short. The Kryha Liliput was cryptographically compatible with its “big sister”, the Kryha Standard. Date of manufacture: about 1926
The legendary Enigma cipher machine was developed in the early 1920s by the German engineer Artur Scherbius in Berlin and initially marketed for commercial purposes. The machine has three rotors, each of which performs an alphabetic substitution cipher. By combining the rotors in series and using a plugboard with variable wiring, very complex scrambling of the message can be achieved. Date of manufacture: about 1942
The T52 e was a World War II German cipher machine and teleprinter. Due to its size and weight, however, it was only ever used as a stationary device. Unlike the Enigma, messages were encrypted and deciphered automatically. On 20 July 1944, the resistance group led by Claus von Stauffenberg used the device to issue encrypted commands for Operation Valkyrie, the plot to assassinate Hitler. Date of manufacture: 1942
The first functioning electronic computer consisted of 40 panels with almost 18,000 vacuum tubes. J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly were commissioned to construct a vacuum-tube computer by the US Army in 1943. ENIAC, which was 1,000 times faster than other calculating machines, was developed by the young scientists at the Moore School of Electronics in Philadelphia. It required just eight hours to perform calculations that had previously taken an entire year. The high processing capacity was needed by the US Army to calculate artillery firing tables. Mauchly wanted to use ENIAC’s speed to produce more accurate weather forecasts, which is why its inventors built a “universal machine“. Date of manufacture: 1946
The history of IBM in Germany dates back to 1910, with the founding of DEHOMAG (Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH) in Berlin. The company was renamed IBM Deutschland GmbH in 1949, when it relocated to Böblingen. The D 11 tabulator, which was manufactured from 1935 onwards, was the first German machine of its kind. Used for punched card analysis, its ability to read, count, compute and print cards made it the mainstay of many so-called Hollerith departments. The machine proved a milestone in the development of punched card technology: It was on sale until 1960, latterly as the IBM D11 Type 450. Around 1,100 D 11 models were sold in all. Date of manufacture: between 1949 and 1960
In the early days of telephony, calls were connected manually by a switchboard operator . The next stage of development saw the introduction of automatic telephone exchanges which dispensed with the need for human intervention. A local telephone exchange establishes connections between the subscribers of a local network. In this case, an analogue electrical signal is switched via electromechanical components. If the first digit dialled by the subscriber is a zero, he or she is put through to the trunk or long-distance exchange. The electromechanical system exhibited here was in use in Hagen-Eilpe until 1994, when it was replaced by a digital switching system.
The W48 desktop telephone was developed for the Deutsche Bundespost by Siemens & Halske in 1948 in the western zone of occupied Germany and produced in very large quantities. Date of manufacture: 1954
This is the first computer developed by Heinz Nixdorf. He started work in July 1952 and it took him 15 months to complete. The electronic balancer is equipped with vacuum tubes. It is a one-off machine built especially for materials management at Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), where it supplemented the work of a Remington Rand tabulating machine, whose mechanical mode of operation was no match for the much faster Nixdorf electronics. Date of manufacture: 1953
The accounting machine Exacta-Continental 6000 was the ultimate in electromechanical office equipment: it could manage all accounting tasks with ease. It came with an optional Multitronic electronic multiplication unit manufactured by Heinz Nixdorf’s Labor für Impulstechnik, which signalled the beginning of a new data processing era from 1958 onwards. Date of manufacture: about 1958
The Zuse Z 11 was the first programmable relay computer from ZUSE KG to go into series production. It was used for mathematical calculations, its hard-wired programs having been designed for surveying tasks in particular. The last in a development series of electro-mechanically controlled computer systems, it contained relays as binary switching elements. These may have been slower than vacuum tubes, but were also more reliable, more durable and less expensive. Date of manufacture: 1958
The Curta is the only mechanical pocket calculator that is capable of performing all four basic arithmetic operations. The inventor of this precision-engineered masterpiece was an Austrian, Curt Herzstark (1902-1988). Date of manufacture: about 1965
The Anita was the first all-electronic, tube-based desktop calculator. Not only was it completely silent, but it operated much faster than mechanical machines, and was maintenance-free too. However, tubes were not an optimum technical solution for desktop calculators as they used a lot of electricity, were relatively susceptible to breakage and were expensive to produce. For this reason, this technology remained unique to the Anita. Mass production of such devices only became an option once transistors started to be used from around 1964 onwards. Date of manufacture: 1961
The linotype machine was a “line casting” machine used in printing. It replaced the extremely time-consuming manual type-setting process. The machine, which was patented in 1886, mechanised the setting and casting of letters. The setter entered text at a keyboard: every time a key was pressed, a matrix of the chosen letter fell into position from a magazine. The assembled line of matrices was cast as a single piece of type metal and filled with liquid lead once the spaces between words had been automatically adjusted. After cooling, this produced “A LINE OF TYPES”. Date of manufacture: 1962
At the start of the 1950s, VEB Optima Büromaschinenwerk Erfurt was asked to develop a typewriter for China as part of e socialist initiative to support allied nations. The Erfurt manufacturers based their design on the box-type typewriter first sold in 1917 by Nippon Typewriter Co. Ltd. in Tokyo. The “Chinese Optima” made its début in 1953. Subsequently, the Chinese bicycle factory “Flying Dove” took over production of the device, two versions of which were produced in China under the “Flying Dove” brand until the end of 1992. Date of manufacture: 1992
This computer originated from the Gemini II mission; it featured in an unmanned space flight on 19.01.1965. The Mercury and Gemini space programmes laid the groundwork for the moon landing. From 1963 onwards, the Gemini missions tested orbital coupling manoeuvres necessary to achieve rendezvous and docking. Safe, accurate manoeuvring was only possible with the aid of a computer. IBM’s commission to develop the on-board computer was worth $26.6 million. It was the first computer to have a magnetic core memory so that data was not destroyed when read out. It was also IBM’s first computer to be fully transistorised. The computer proved reliable in operation. Date of manufacture: about 1964
In 1965, the Digital Equipment Corporation presented the PDP-8, thereby marking the beginning of the mini-computer era. Priced at just 18,200 Dollars, this general-purpose computer was robust enough to be used in both production and laboratory environments. Some 10,000 of them were sold within the space of 10 years; by 1975, the PDP-8 cost just 2,600 Dollars. A whole variety of manufacturers tapped into the new market, building computers based on the PDP-8 for use in process and manufacturing technology and for controlling experiments in research. By 1975, more than 30 companies in the West German market alone were selling mini-computers. Date of manufacture: 1965
In 1964, Nixdorf developed the electronics for a desk-top calculator produced by office equipment manufacturer Wanderer, later building the components itself under licence. The “Wanderer Conti” was presented to the public for the first time in 1965 at the Hanover Trade Fair. It was the world’s first fully electronic desk-top calculator with printing output. In terms of design, the four-species calculator was a bona fide computer, boasting an arithmetic unit, a magnetic core memory, a printer and a threaded read-only memory (ROM). The Conti enabled Nixdorf to gain a foothold in the US market when the Chicago-based Victor Comptometer Corporation placed an order worth DM 100 million for the machine in 1968. Date of manufacture: 1966
The Olivetti Valentine is a mechanical typewriter that stands out largely by virtue of its unconventional appearance. It is regarded as a milestone in industrial design and is a sought-after collector’s item. Date of manufacture: early 1970s
The great success enjoyed by Nixdorf at the end of the 1960s and start of the 1970s was based largely on the computers of the 820 series. These were universal computers for companies of all sizes and could be used for almost any application area thanks to their modular construction and consistent application of the modular design system. Date of manufacture: 1974
Canon Canola Pocketronic, Sanyo ICC-82D, Sharp EL-8: The first battery-operated electronic pocket calculators were brought out virtually simultaneously in 1970 by Japanese firms Sanyo, Sharp and Canon. However, the "heart" of these first pocket calculators – the microchip – was produced by US companies such as Texas Instruments and Rockwell. Texas Instruments had developed the first portable prototype as early as 1967. But the Cal-Tech, as it was known, was merely supposed to demonstrate the power of the new chip and never went into series production. The huge sales potential of the pocket calculator had yet to be recognised, especially since it was still too expensive to produce. It was for this reason that Texas Instruments sold the technical design of the Cal-Tech to Canon, and only brought out its own pocket calculator in 1972. Date of manufacture: 1970
The Odyssey console laid the foundations for the video game era. In 1966 Ralph Baer, a US engineer of German descent, filed a patent for a kind of ping-pong game. This was ultimately granted in 1968. It was not until 1972 that the game was distributed with a gaming console by Magnavox. Poor marketing meant that although the video game wasn’t a commercial flop, it wasn’t a resounding financial success either. Date of manufacture: 1972
The HP-35 was the world's first scientific pocket calculator. Before it came along, slide rules and logarithm tables were required for trigonometric and exponential functions. Pocket calculators were only capable of the four basic arithmetic operations. The price for an HP-35 in 1972 was about DM 2,000. Date of manufacture: 1972
In 1970, the photocopier company Xerox founded a research centre in Palo Alto known as PARC. This is where the Xerox Alto was developed, a forerunner of much of the PC technology taken for granted today. The Alto had a graphical user interface and a mouse, and was the model on which first the Macintosh, then Windows were based. It was also fully network-capable: the Ethernet was another Xerox PARC invention. Many Alto system engineers later worked on the Apple Macintosh. Only around 1,000 examples of the Alto were built; it was a prototype and was never launched on the market. Date of manufacture: 1973
The January 1975 issue of the magazine Popular Electronics featured the forerunner of the first personal computer, the Altair 8800, which had been designed by Ed Roberts and his company MITS. It was available as a kit for 397 US dollars, making it the first computer that ordinary consumers could afford and marking the advent of widespread PC use. Incidentally, the Altair's name comes from a TV series. The twelve-year-old daughter of editor Les Solomon said: “Call it Altair. That's where the Enterprise is heading tonight.“ Date of manufacture: 1975
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple on 1 April 1976. Soon afterwards, they presented their first computer: the Apple I. A total of only 200 Apple I computers were made. Jobs and Wozniak built it in Jobs's parents' garage in Los Altos, California and sold it for $666. The Apple I was actually just a circuit board. Users had to make their own housing for it and add input and output devices themselves. There are still around 70 Apple I computers in existence worldwide. Date of manufacture: 1976
The Apple II was the first “personal“ desktop computer to achieve commercial success. In contrast to the Apple I, the main board was supplied in a plastic housing together with a keyboard, a monitor and software.  The Apple Writer word processor and VisiCalc spreadsheet software were key to its success. The Apple II marked the start of Apple's rise to become the world's most successful company. Date of manufacture: 1977
The computer centre from the Sachsenwerk in Dresden is part of a system that was only shut down in 1993. It played a role in GDR computer history and a part in the success story of a major computer system. The Einheitliches System Elektronischer Rechenanlagen (standardized system of electronic computers) is the functional replica of an IBM computer: ESER 1055 is compatible with the 370/155 in terms of hardware and software alike. These computer systems were built until well into the 1980s. Date of manufacture: about 1979
Whenever computers were mentioned in the 1960s and 1970s, IBM was the name on everyone's lips. Despite this, the manufacturing giant was so slow to react that it almost missed out on the personal computer revolution, eventually launching its own PC 5150 in August 1981. The device proved an immediate hit, becoming an office mainstay. After all, it was a product of THE computer company, a fact which engendered trust among businesses that had not had any faith in the models available on the market thus far. The IBM PC, which ran with Microsoft's DOS operating system, provided the industry standard that had been lacking for so long. Date of manufacture: 1984
When Adam Osborne founded his computer firm, he was already well-known on the burgeoning home-computer scene thanks to numerous books and articles he had published. Although others before him had toyed with the idea of building a portable computer, his model, the Osborne 1, was the first on the market. Compared with today’s laptops, the Osborne 1 was extremely heavy and unwieldy. Despite this drawback, it proved a big success and almost became a cult object. Unfortunately, Osborne’s company went bankrupt in 1983. Date of manufacture: 1983
Commodore presented the C64 in 1982. Two years after its launch, four million units had already been sold, breaking all previous records for computer sales. Ultimately, a total of over 20 million C64 computers were sold throughout the world. The C64 was sometimes referred to as the “breadbox“ or even the “neck rest“ due to its shape. Date of manufacture: 1982
Motorola launched the first commercial mobile phone in 1983: the Dynatac 8000X. This bulky forebear of today's mobile phones weighed almost 750 grams and cost around $400. Date of manufacture: 1983
Apple launched the Macintosh on 24 January 1984. The Mac broke with all the previously accepted notions about PCs. When Jef Raskin, the father of the Mac, proposed the project in 1979, his idea was to design a computer that was geared to people. The Mac enabled normal users to become acquainted with the graphical user interface featuring desktop, mouse and windows. All they had to do beforehand was to unpack it and plug it in. Although the Mac lost out to the IBM PCs in the office environment, it revolutionised the entire graphic design industry. Date of manufacture: 1984
The Cray-2 was the fastest computer in the world in 1985. It weighed 2.5 tonnes. It was supplied as a supercomputer with up to four processors, a peak performance of 2 GFLOPS, 2 GB of memory and a maximum clock speed of 4.1 ns. It is notable for its striking design. A total of 27 units were sold. Date of manufacture: 1985
The Nintendo Game Boy proved to be one of the most successful products in the company’s history. The hand-held video game device was launched on the market in a plain grey-and-white version in 1989. Its robust technology, ease of operation and low battery consumption all helped to make it the biggest-selling console of the time. Although the Game Boy was initially only available with the game Tetris, strangely enough this became part of its appeal: it wasn’t just for hard-core players, but for everyone. The Game Boy was manufactured until 2002 and 120 million devices were sold in all. Date of manufacture: about 1990
The Newton was Apple’s attempt to create a revolutionary new device. A feature of the PDA (Private Digital Assistant) was handwriting recognition software; the device also came with a stylus which was supposed to make entering text child’s play. The touch-sensitive screen would detect characters and words automatically as they were written. However, this feature never really worked properly at market launch, something which gave rise to less than glowing reviews in the press. The project was halted in 1998 when company founder Steve Jobs re-joined the company. Date of manufacture: 1993
Robot soccer represents a major challenge for researchers in the field of artificial intelligence. A proving ground for the state of science in this field, it is also a means of promoting university-level education. Since 1997, international RoboCup matches featuring research teams from all over the world have been held in various leagues. This model – a third-generation, Middle Size League robot – belongs to the Fraunhofer Institut. Each robot has its own sensors and can make decisions completely autonomously. The robots can, however, communicate wirelessly with one another and with a computer. Date of manufacture: 1999
The robot dog AIBO was perhaps the most technically sophisticated toy ever to be created by its Japanese manufacturer Sony: the battery-operated dog came with 18 electrically controlled joints, microphones, loudspeakers, emotion display, 64-bit processor and a balance system to enable it to stand up. Date of manufacture: 1999
Lauron stands for “LAUfROboter Neuronal gesteuert” (English: “Walking Robot, Neural Controlled”). The walking robot (the 3rd generation of which is on show) was developed in order to research statically stable walking in rough terrain. Its movements are biologically inspired, mimicking those of a stick insect. Each leg can respond semi-autonomously to impulses; the movements are coordinated at a higher level. Lauron is able to gather information about its environment and plan a path towards a given goal autonomously. While walking, the robot uses sensors to detect potential obstacles and then either walks over or around them. Date of manufacture: 1999
Using a camera, this 2nd-generation face robot scans the viewer’s facial expression, which is then recognised and interpreted by software based on a neural net. From a repertoire of pre-programmed responses, the robot’s mechanism is activated and a matching facial expression is generated. The mechanical and electronic parts of the Mark II were covered by a silicone skin to create a robot face that looks as human as possible. Fumio Hara, Science University of Tokyo, Japan, 2001
RoboThespian is a life-sized humanoid robot designed for human interaction in public environments. It can sing as well as tell jokes and recite text passages. Visitors can choose from a selection of programmed text sequences for the metallic creation to read out, accompanied by a range of gestures. Date of manufacture: 2011
The earliest documents written on clay tablets in cuneiform script were used for tax and accounting purposes. Records were kept of the bread rations paid to workers, for example. The precise history is not known. About 2350-2100 BC
Wilhelm Schickard wanted to “mechanise” the laborious and error-prone task of calculating astronomical tables. In 1623 he had two calculating machines built to his specifications in a mechanic’s workshop in Tübingen – one for himself, the other for Johannes Kepler. The practical benefits of his “calculating clock” appeared somewhat dubious at the time, as the system based on logarithmic tables was superior. Regrettably, both machines were destroyed in a fire at the workshop and the invention was forgotten. This reconstruction of the machine by Baron von Freytag Löringhoff was completed in 1957. Date of manufacture: 1957
In 1678, French watchmaker René Grillet presented the “Machine arithmétique” which was capable of carrying out all four basic arithmetic operations. Constructed largely out of paper, the invention used so-called Napier’s rods that had been around since 1617 for the calculation process. It is an excellent example of the early days of mechanical calculation and an ancestor of today’s pocket calculator. Date of manufacture: 1678
This calculating machine, invented by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, was built in the years from 1690 to 1720. It represents a historic milestone in the development of mechanical calculating machines because it was the first to perform all four arithmetic operations. Leibniz's operating mechanism, known as the stepped cylinder or Leibniz wheel, allowed multiplication to be performed mechanically and remained an indispensable component of mechanical calculators for over 200 years. Functioning replica of the only remaining original (at the Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek in Hanover), built to plans by N. Joachim Lehmann. HNF replica: 1995
The device popularly known as the “Chess Turk“ was built in 1769 by Austrian court official Wolfgang von Kempelen in such a way as to convince spectators that they were watching an “automated chess player“. In fact an individual of quite normal size sat inside and controlled the gripper arm with the aid of levers and cable winches. Magnetised chess pieces and small magnetic pins on the underside of the board enabled the moves to be followed by the person within. Functional HNF replica: 2004
An Arithmometer is a mechanical calculating machine invented by the Frenchman Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar (1785-1870). It was the world's first calculating machine to go into series production. As well as addition and subtraction, it could perform multiplication and division by means of repeated addition and subtraction. This luxury version of the calculating machine was a gift to the king of Portugal. Date of manufacture: about 1855
The Hansen Writing Ball was the world's first typewriter to be produced commercially, albeit in small batches. It was developed in 1865 by Rasmus Johann Malling-Hansen, a Danish pastor and teacher of deaf-mutes. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a well-known user. Date of manufacture: about 1878
The name Morse and the code of the same name became synonymous with telegraphy. His procedure for transmitting text information via a series of pulses (dots and dashes) and the silences between them helped the technology achieve a breakthrough. The most important components of the Ericsson Morse Telegraph Type TA 100 for receiving messages (“sounder”) are an electromagnet, an armature, a mechanical clockwork to move the paper tape, a coloured stylus and a roll of paper. A Morse key is required to transmit messages. Date of manufacture: about 1880
In 1883, Englishman Joseph Edmondson obtained a patent for a circular calculating machine based on the stepped-drum mechanism. His design was based on Thomas de Colmar’s simple “arithmomètre”. The advantage of Edmondson’s machine was that it was not limited to a certain number of decimal places if a division produced a remainder. Date of manufacture: about 1885
This machine is a replica of the first Hollerith machine that was used so successfully to complete the first census in the USA thanks to the use of punched cards. It provided a much faster way of counting the vast amount of data gathered. The Hollerith machine consists of two hinged plates, a switch panel with relays, a counting device with 40 counters and a sorting box. When one of the pins on the plates meets a hole in the punched card, a circuit is completed and an electric pulse causes the pointer of a counter to advance accordingly. The respective compartment of the sorting box is also opened, and the operator can place the analysed punched card into it by hand. Functional HNF replica: 2006
The comptometer was the first exclusively key-driven mechanical calculator. The “wooden box” was a precursor to the full-keyboard adding machines built between 1886 and 1904. According to its manufacturer’s promotional material, it was the world’s first adding machine with a practical application. Date of manufacture: about 1900
The Underwood No. 5, which appeared in 1900, was the first classic modern typewriter (with visible text, upper- and lower-case letters and tab stops). It set the standard for all subsequent typewriters worldwide until they were superseded first by IBM electric typewriters, which used a type ball instead of type bars, and then by PCs. Date of manufacture: 1915
This extremely compact table-top telephone with a quirky design was also known as the “Pferdefuss” or “horse’s hoof” in Bavaria due to its shape. It was the approved standard dialling apparatus only in Bavaria. Incidentally, the device was referred to as the “cow’s hoof” in Prussia. Date of manufacture: from 1925 onwards
In 1879 the Ritty brothers filed a patent application for the first cash register in the USA. Businessman John H. Patterson acquired the rights to manufacture cash registers in 1884 and founded the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio. The NCR 400 series models were among the standard cash registers in use at the time. They were favoured by retail outlets because of their robust nature. Model 422 has five rows of keys and features 42 keys in all. The indicators are in English and show sums of pounds and pence. Date of manufacture: 1910
The Kryha Liliput is a very rare cipher machine in pocket-watch format. The machine consisted of two concentric rings, each featuring an alphabet and numbers. The user would operate it by pushing a lever to step the inner ring a random number of places against the outer ring, thereby changing the relationship between the two. Although Kryha’s devices were a commercial success, they were cryptographically weak as the period lengths of the codes were generally quite short. The Kryha Liliput was cryptographically compatible with its “big sister”, the Kryha Standard. Date of manufacture: about 1926
The legendary Enigma cipher machine was developed in the early 1920s by the German engineer Artur Scherbius in Berlin and initially marketed for commercial purposes. The machine has three rotors, each of which performs an alphabetic substitution cipher. By combining the rotors in series and using a plugboard with variable wiring, very complex scrambling of the message can be achieved. Date of manufacture: about 1942
The T52 e was a World War II German cipher machine and teleprinter. Due to its size and weight, however, it was only ever used as a stationary device. Unlike the Enigma, messages were encrypted and deciphered automatically. On 20 July 1944, the resistance group led by Claus von Stauffenberg used the device to issue encrypted commands for Operation Valkyrie, the plot to assassinate Hitler. Date of manufacture: 1942
The first functioning electronic computer consisted of 40 panels with almost 18,000 vacuum tubes. J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly were commissioned to construct a vacuum-tube computer by the US Army in 1943. ENIAC, which was 1,000 times faster than other calculating machines, was developed by the young scientists at the Moore School of Electronics in Philadelphia. It required just eight hours to perform calculations that had previously taken an entire year. The high processing capacity was needed by the US Army to calculate artillery firing tables. Mauchly wanted to use ENIAC’s speed to produce more accurate weather forecasts, which is why its inventors built a “universal machine“. Date of manufacture: 1946
The history of IBM in Germany dates back to 1910, with the founding of DEHOMAG (Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH) in Berlin. The company was renamed IBM Deutschland GmbH in 1949, when it relocated to Böblingen. The D 11 tabulator, which was manufactured from 1935 onwards, was the first German machine of its kind. Used for punched card analysis, its ability to read, count, compute and print cards made it the mainstay of many so-called Hollerith departments. The machine proved a milestone in the development of punched card technology: It was on sale until 1960, latterly as the IBM D11 Type 450. Around 1,100 D 11 models were sold in all. Date of manufacture: between 1949 and 1960
In the early days of telephony, calls were connected manually by a switchboard operator . The next stage of development saw the introduction of automatic telephone exchanges which dispensed with the need for human intervention. A local telephone exchange establishes connections between the subscribers of a local network. In this case, an analogue electrical signal is switched via electromechanical components. If the first digit dialled by the subscriber is a zero, he or she is put through to the trunk or long-distance exchange. The electromechanical system exhibited here was in use in Hagen-Eilpe until 1994, when it was replaced by a digital switching system.
The W48 desktop telephone was developed for the Deutsche Bundespost by Siemens & Halske in 1948 in the western zone of occupied Germany and produced in very large quantities. Date of manufacture: 1954
This is the first computer developed by Heinz Nixdorf. He started work in July 1952 and it took him 15 months to complete. The electronic balancer is equipped with vacuum tubes. It is a one-off machine built especially for materials management at Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), where it supplemented the work of a Remington Rand tabulating machine, whose mechanical mode of operation was no match for the much faster Nixdorf electronics. Date of manufacture: 1953
The accounting machine Exacta-Continental 6000 was the ultimate in electromechanical office equipment: it could manage all accounting tasks with ease. It came with an optional Multitronic electronic multiplication unit manufactured by Heinz Nixdorf’s Labor für Impulstechnik, which signalled the beginning of a new data processing era from 1958 onwards. Date of manufacture: about 1958
The Zuse Z 11 was the first programmable relay computer from ZUSE KG to go into series production. It was used for mathematical calculations, its hard-wired programs having been designed for surveying tasks in particular. The last in a development series of electro-mechanically controlled computer systems, it contained relays as binary switching elements. These may have been slower than vacuum tubes, but were also more reliable, more durable and less expensive. Date of manufacture: 1958
The Curta is the only mechanical pocket calculator that is capable of performing all four basic arithmetic operations. The inventor of this precision-engineered masterpiece was an Austrian, Curt Herzstark (1902-1988). Date of manufacture: about 1965
The Anita was the first all-electronic, tube-based desktop calculator. Not only was it completely silent, but it operated much faster than mechanical machines, and was maintenance-free too. However, tubes were not an optimum technical solution for desktop calculators as they used a lot of electricity, were relatively susceptible to breakage and were expensive to produce. For this reason, this technology remained unique to the Anita. Mass production of such devices only became an option once transistors started to be used from around 1964 onwards. Date of manufacture: 1961
The linotype machine was a “line casting” machine used in printing. It replaced the extremely time-consuming manual type-setting process. The machine, which was patented in 1886, mechanised the setting and casting of letters. The setter entered text at a keyboard: every time a key was pressed, a matrix of the chosen letter fell into position from a magazine. The assembled line of matrices was cast as a single piece of type metal and filled with liquid lead once the spaces between words had been automatically adjusted. After cooling, this produced “A LINE OF TYPES”. Date of manufacture: 1962
At the start of the 1950s, VEB Optima Büromaschinenwerk Erfurt was asked to develop a typewriter for China as part of e socialist initiative to support allied nations. The Erfurt manufacturers based their design on the box-type typewriter first sold in 1917 by Nippon Typewriter Co. Ltd. in Tokyo. The “Chinese Optima” made its début in 1953. Subsequently, the Chinese bicycle factory “Flying Dove” took over production of the device, two versions of which were produced in China under the “Flying Dove” brand until the end of 1992. Date of manufacture: 1992
This computer originated from the Gemini II mission; it featured in an unmanned space flight on 19.01.1965. The Mercury and Gemini space programmes laid the groundwork for the moon landing. From 1963 onwards, the Gemini missions tested orbital coupling manoeuvres necessary to achieve rendezvous and docking. Safe, accurate manoeuvring was only possible with the aid of a computer. IBM’s commission to develop the on-board computer was worth $26.6 million. It was the first computer to have a magnetic core memory so that data was not destroyed when read out. It was also IBM’s first computer to be fully transistorised. The computer proved reliable in operation. Date of manufacture: about 1964
In 1965, the Digital Equipment Corporation presented the PDP-8, thereby marking the beginning of the mini-computer era. Priced at just 18,200 Dollars, this general-purpose computer was robust enough to be used in both production and laboratory environments. Some 10,000 of them were sold within the space of 10 years; by 1975, the PDP-8 cost just 2,600 Dollars. A whole variety of manufacturers tapped into the new market, building computers based on the PDP-8 for use in process and manufacturing technology and for controlling experiments in research. By 1975, more than 30 companies in the West German market alone were selling mini-computers. Date of manufacture: 1965
In 1964, Nixdorf developed the electronics for a desk-top calculator produced by office equipment manufacturer Wanderer, later building the components itself under licence. The “Wanderer Conti” was presented to the public for the first time in 1965 at the Hanover Trade Fair. It was the world’s first fully electronic desk-top calculator with printing output. In terms of design, the four-species calculator was a bona fide computer, boasting an arithmetic unit, a magnetic core memory, a printer and a threaded read-only memory (ROM). The Conti enabled Nixdorf to gain a foothold in the US market when the Chicago-based Victor Comptometer Corporation placed an order worth DM 100 million for the machine in 1968. Date of manufacture: 1966
The Olivetti Valentine is a mechanical typewriter that stands out largely by virtue of its unconventional appearance. It is regarded as a milestone in industrial design and is a sought-after collector’s item. Date of manufacture: early 1970s
The great success enjoyed by Nixdorf at the end of the 1960s and start of the 1970s was based largely on the computers of the 820 series. These were universal computers for companies of all sizes and could be used for almost any application area thanks to their modular construction and consistent application of the modular design system. Date of manufacture: 1974
Canon Canola Pocketronic, Sanyo ICC-82D, Sharp EL-8: The first battery-operated electronic pocket calculators were brought out virtually simultaneously in 1970 by Japanese firms Sanyo, Sharp and Canon. However, the "heart" of these first pocket calculators – the microchip – was produced by US companies such as Texas Instruments and Rockwell. Texas Instruments had developed the first portable prototype as early as 1967. But the Cal-Tech, as it was known, was merely supposed to demonstrate the power of the new chip and never went into series production. The huge sales potential of the pocket calculator had yet to be recognised, especially since it was still too expensive to produce. It was for this reason that Texas Instruments sold the technical design of the Cal-Tech to Canon, and only brought out its own pocket calculator in 1972. Date of manufacture: 1970
The Odyssey console laid the foundations for the video game era. In 1966 Ralph Baer, a US engineer of German descent, filed a patent for a kind of ping-pong game. This was ultimately granted in 1968. It was not until 1972 that the game was distributed with a gaming console by Magnavox. Poor marketing meant that although the video game wasn’t a commercial flop, it wasn’t a resounding financial success either. Date of manufacture: 1972
The HP-35 was the world's first scientific pocket calculator. Before it came along, slide rules and logarithm tables were required for trigonometric and exponential functions. Pocket calculators were only capable of the four basic arithmetic operations. The price for an HP-35 in 1972 was about DM 2,000. Date of manufacture: 1972
In 1970, the photocopier company Xerox founded a research centre in Palo Alto known as PARC. This is where the Xerox Alto was developed, a forerunner of much of the PC technology taken for granted today. The Alto had a graphical user interface and a mouse, and was the model on which first the Macintosh, then Windows were based. It was also fully network-capable: the Ethernet was another Xerox PARC invention. Many Alto system engineers later worked on the Apple Macintosh. Only around 1,000 examples of the Alto were built; it was a prototype and was never launched on the market. Date of manufacture: 1973
The January 1975 issue of the magazine Popular Electronics featured the forerunner of the first personal computer, the Altair 8800, which had been designed by Ed Roberts and his company MITS. It was available as a kit for 397 US dollars, making it the first computer that ordinary consumers could afford and marking the advent of widespread PC use. Incidentally, the Altair's name comes from a TV series. The twelve-year-old daughter of editor Les Solomon said: “Call it Altair. That's where the Enterprise is heading tonight.“ Date of manufacture: 1975
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple on 1 April 1976. Soon afterwards, they presented their first computer: the Apple I. A total of only 200 Apple I computers were made. Jobs and Wozniak built it in Jobs's parents' garage in Los Altos, California and sold it for $666. The Apple I was actually just a circuit board. Users had to make their own housing for it and add input and output devices themselves. There are still around 70 Apple I computers in existence worldwide. Date of manufacture: 1976
The Apple II was the first “personal“ desktop computer to achieve commercial success. In contrast to the Apple I, the main board was supplied in a plastic housing together with a keyboard, a monitor and software.  The Apple Writer word processor and VisiCalc spreadsheet software were key to its success. The Apple II marked the start of Apple's rise to become the world's most successful company. Date of manufacture: 1977
The computer centre from the Sachsenwerk in Dresden is part of a system that was only shut down in 1993. It played a role in GDR computer history and a part in the success story of a major computer system. The Einheitliches System Elektronischer Rechenanlagen (standardized system of electronic computers) is the functional replica of an IBM computer: ESER 1055 is compatible with the 370/155 in terms of hardware and software alike. These computer systems were built until well into the 1980s. Date of manufacture: about 1979
Whenever computers were mentioned in the 1960s and 1970s, IBM was the name on everyone's lips. Despite this, the manufacturing giant was so slow to react that it almost missed out on the personal computer revolution, eventually launching its own PC 5150 in August 1981. The device proved an immediate hit, becoming an office mainstay. After all, it was a product of THE computer company, a fact which engendered trust among businesses that had not had any faith in the models available on the market thus far. The IBM PC, which ran with Microsoft's DOS operating system, provided the industry standard that had been lacking for so long. Date of manufacture: 1984
When Adam Osborne founded his computer firm, he was already well-known on the burgeoning home-computer scene thanks to numerous books and articles he had published. Although others before him had toyed with the idea of building a portable computer, his model, the Osborne 1, was the first on the market. Compared with today’s laptops, the Osborne 1 was extremely heavy and unwieldy. Despite this drawback, it proved a big success and almost became a cult object. Unfortunately, Osborne’s company went bankrupt in 1983. Date of manufacture: 1983
Commodore presented the C64 in 1982. Two years after its launch, four million units had already been sold, breaking all previous records for computer sales. Ultimately, a total of over 20 million C64 computers were sold throughout the world. The C64 was sometimes referred to as the “breadbox“ or even the “neck rest“ due to its shape. Date of manufacture: 1982
Motorola launched the first commercial mobile phone in 1983: the Dynatac 8000X. This bulky forebear of today's mobile phones weighed almost 750 grams and cost around $400. Date of manufacture: 1983
Apple launched the Macintosh on 24 January 1984. The Mac broke with all the previously accepted notions about PCs. When Jef Raskin, the father of the Mac, proposed the project in 1979, his idea was to design a computer that was geared to people. The Mac enabled normal users to become acquainted with the graphical user interface featuring desktop, mouse and windows. All they had to do beforehand was to unpack it and plug it in. Although the Mac lost out to the IBM PCs in the office environment, it revolutionised the entire graphic design industry. Date of manufacture: 1984
The Cray-2 was the fastest computer in the world in 1985. It weighed 2.5 tonnes. It was supplied as a supercomputer with up to four processors, a peak performance of 2 GFLOPS, 2 GB of memory and a maximum clock speed of 4.1 ns. It is notable for its striking design. A total of 27 units were sold. Date of manufacture: 1985
The Nintendo Game Boy proved to be one of the most successful products in the company’s history. The hand-held video game device was launched on the market in a plain grey-and-white version in 1989. Its robust technology, ease of operation and low battery consumption all helped to make it the biggest-selling console of the time. Although the Game Boy was initially only available with the game Tetris, strangely enough this became part of its appeal: it wasn’t just for hard-core players, but for everyone. The Game Boy was manufactured until 2002 and 120 million devices were sold in all. Date of manufacture: about 1990
The Newton was Apple’s attempt to create a revolutionary new device. A feature of the PDA (Private Digital Assistant) was handwriting recognition software; the device also came with a stylus which was supposed to make entering text child’s play. The touch-sensitive screen would detect characters and words automatically as they were written. However, this feature never really worked properly at market launch, something which gave rise to less than glowing reviews in the press. The project was halted in 1998 when company founder Steve Jobs re-joined the company. Date of manufacture: 1993
Robot soccer represents a major challenge for researchers in the field of artificial intelligence. A proving ground for the state of science in this field, it is also a means of promoting university-level education. Since 1997, international RoboCup matches featuring research teams from all over the world have been held in various leagues. This model – a third-generation, Middle Size League robot – belongs to the Fraunhofer Institut. Each robot has its own sensors and can make decisions completely autonomously. The robots can, however, communicate wirelessly with one another and with a computer. Date of manufacture: 1999
The robot dog AIBO was perhaps the most technically sophisticated toy ever to be created by its Japanese manufacturer Sony: the battery-operated dog came with 18 electrically controlled joints, microphones, loudspeakers, emotion display, 64-bit processor and a balance system to enable it to stand up. Date of manufacture: 1999
Lauron stands for “LAUfROboter Neuronal gesteuert” (English: “Walking Robot, Neural Controlled”). The walking robot (the 3rd generation of which is on show) was developed in order to research statically stable walking in rough terrain. Its movements are biologically inspired, mimicking those of a stick insect. Each leg can respond semi-autonomously to impulses; the movements are coordinated at a higher level. Lauron is able to gather information about its environment and plan a path towards a given goal autonomously. While walking, the robot uses sensors to detect potential obstacles and then either walks over or around them. Date of manufacture: 1999
Using a camera, this 2nd-generation face robot scans the viewer’s facial expression, which is then recognised and interpreted by software based on a neural net. From a repertoire of pre-programmed responses, the robot’s mechanism is activated and a matching facial expression is generated. The mechanical and electronic parts of the Mark II were covered by a silicone skin to create a robot face that looks as human as possible. Fumio Hara, Science University of Tokyo, Japan, 2001
RoboThespian is a life-sized humanoid robot designed for human interaction in public environments. It can sing as well as tell jokes and recite text passages. Visitors can choose from a selection of programmed text sequences for the metallic creation to read out, accompanied by a range of gestures. Date of manufacture: 2011
The earliest documents written on clay tablets in cuneiform script were used for tax and accounting purposes. Records were kept of the bread rations paid to workers, for example. The precise history is not known. About 2350-2100 BC
Wilhelm Schickard wanted to “mechanise” the laborious and error-prone task of calculating astronomical tables. In 1623 he had two calculating machines built to his specifications in a mechanic’s workshop in Tübingen – one for himself, the other for Johannes Kepler. The practical benefits of his “calculating clock” appeared somewhat dubious at the time, as the system based on logarithmic tables was superior. Regrettably, both machines were destroyed in a fire at the workshop and the invention was forgotten. This reconstruction of the machine by Baron von Freytag Löringhoff was completed in 1957. Date of manufacture: 1957
In 1678, French watchmaker René Grillet presented the “Machine arithmétique” which was capable of carrying out all four basic arithmetic operations. Constructed largely out of paper, the invention used so-called Napier’s rods that had been around since 1617 for the calculation process. It is an excellent example of the early days of mechanical calculation and an ancestor of today’s pocket calculator. Date of manufacture: 1678
This calculating machine, invented by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, was built in the years from 1690 to 1720. It represents a historic milestone in the development of mechanical calculating machines because it was the first to perform all four arithmetic operations. Leibniz's operating mechanism, known as the stepped cylinder or Leibniz wheel, allowed multiplication to be performed mechanically and remained an indispensable component of mechanical calculators for over 200 years. Functioning replica of the only remaining original (at the Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek in Hanover), built to plans by N. Joachim Lehmann. HNF replica: 1995
The device popularly known as the “Chess Turk“ was built in 1769 by Austrian court official Wolfgang von Kempelen in such a way as to convince spectators that they were watching an “automated chess player“. In fact an individual of quite normal size sat inside and controlled the gripper arm with the aid of levers and cable winches. Magnetised chess pieces and small magnetic pins on the underside of the board enabled the moves to be followed by the person within. Functional HNF replica: 2004
An Arithmometer is a mechanical calculating machine invented by the Frenchman Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar (1785-1870). It was the world's first calculating machine to go into series production. As well as addition and subtraction, it could perform multiplication and division by means of repeated addition and subtraction. This luxury version of the calculating machine was a gift to the king of Portugal. Date of manufacture: about 1855
The Hansen Writing Ball was the world's first typewriter to be produced commercially, albeit in small batches. It was developed in 1865 by Rasmus Johann Malling-Hansen, a Danish pastor and teacher of deaf-mutes. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a well-known user. Date of manufacture: about 1878
The name Morse and the code of the same name became synonymous with telegraphy. His procedure for transmitting text information via a series of pulses (dots and dashes) and the silences between them helped the technology achieve a breakthrough. The most important components of the Ericsson Morse Telegraph Type TA 100 for receiving messages (“sounder”) are an electromagnet, an armature, a mechanical clockwork to move the paper tape, a coloured stylus and a roll of paper. A Morse key is required to transmit messages. Date of manufacture: about 1880
In 1883, Englishman Joseph Edmondson obtained a patent for a circular calculating machine based on the stepped-drum mechanism. His design was based on Thomas de Colmar’s simple “arithmomètre”. The advantage of Edmondson’s machine was that it was not limited to a certain number of decimal places if a division produced a remainder. Date of manufacture: about 1885
This machine is a replica of the first Hollerith machine that was used so successfully to complete the first census in the USA thanks to the use of punched cards. It provided a much faster way of counting the vast amount of data gathered. The Hollerith machine consists of two hinged plates, a switch panel with relays, a counting device with 40 counters and a sorting box. When one of the pins on the plates meets a hole in the punched card, a circuit is completed and an electric pulse causes the pointer of a counter to advance accordingly. The respective compartment of the sorting box is also opened, and the operator can place the analysed punched card into it by hand. Functional HNF replica: 2006
The comptometer was the first exclusively key-driven mechanical calculator. The “wooden box” was a precursor to the full-keyboard adding machines built between 1886 and 1904. According to its manufacturer’s promotional material, it was the world’s first adding machine with a practical application. Date of manufacture: about 1900
The Underwood No. 5, which appeared in 1900, was the first classic modern typewriter (with visible text, upper- and lower-case letters and tab stops). It set the standard for all subsequent typewriters worldwide until they were superseded first by IBM electric typewriters, which used a type ball instead of type bars, and then by PCs. Date of manufacture: 1915
This extremely compact table-top telephone with a quirky design was also known as the “Pferdefuss” or “horse’s hoof” in Bavaria due to its shape. It was the approved standard dialling apparatus only in Bavaria. Incidentally, the device was referred to as the “cow’s hoof” in Prussia. Date of manufacture: from 1925 onwards
In 1879 the Ritty brothers filed a patent application for the first cash register in the USA. Businessman John H. Patterson acquired the rights to manufacture cash registers in 1884 and founded the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio. The NCR 400 series models were among the standard cash registers in use at the time. They were favoured by retail outlets because of their robust nature. Model 422 has five rows of keys and features 42 keys in all. The indicators are in English and show sums of pounds and pence. Date of manufacture: 1910
The Kryha Liliput is a very rare cipher machine in pocket-watch format. The machine consisted of two concentric rings, each featuring an alphabet and numbers. The user would operate it by pushing a lever to step the inner ring a random number of places against the outer ring, thereby changing the relationship between the two. Although Kryha’s devices were a commercial success, they were cryptographically weak as the period lengths of the codes were generally quite short. The Kryha Liliput was cryptographically compatible with its “big sister”, the Kryha Standard. Date of manufacture: about 1926
The legendary Enigma cipher machine was developed in the early 1920s by the German engineer Artur Scherbius in Berlin and initially marketed for commercial purposes. The machine has three rotors, each of which performs an alphabetic substitution cipher. By combining the rotors in series and using a plugboard with variable wiring, very complex scrambling of the message can be achieved. Date of manufacture: about 1942
The T52 e was a World War II German cipher machine and teleprinter. Due to its size and weight, however, it was only ever used as a stationary device. Unlike the Enigma, messages were encrypted and deciphered automatically. On 20 July 1944, the resistance group led by Claus von Stauffenberg used the device to issue encrypted commands for Operation Valkyrie, the plot to assassinate Hitler. Date of manufacture: 1942
The first functioning electronic computer consisted of 40 panels with almost 18,000 vacuum tubes. J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly were commissioned to construct a vacuum-tube computer by the US Army in 1943. ENIAC, which was 1,000 times faster than other calculating machines, was developed by the young scientists at the Moore School of Electronics in Philadelphia. It required just eight hours to perform calculations that had previously taken an entire year. The high processing capacity was needed by the US Army to calculate artillery firing tables. Mauchly wanted to use ENIAC’s speed to produce more accurate weather forecasts, which is why its inventors built a “universal machine“. Date of manufacture: 1946
The history of IBM in Germany dates back to 1910, with the founding of DEHOMAG (Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH) in Berlin. The company was renamed IBM Deutschland GmbH in 1949, when it relocated to Böblingen. The D 11 tabulator, which was manufactured from 1935 onwards, was the first German machine of its kind. Used for punched card analysis, its ability to read, count, compute and print cards made it the mainstay of many so-called Hollerith departments. The machine proved a milestone in the development of punched card technology: It was on sale until 1960, latterly as the IBM D11 Type 450. Around 1,100 D 11 models were sold in all. Date of manufacture: between 1949 and 1960
In the early days of telephony, calls were connected manually by a switchboard operator . The next stage of development saw the introduction of automatic telephone exchanges which dispensed with the need for human intervention. A local telephone exchange establishes connections between the subscribers of a local network. In this case, an analogue electrical signal is switched via electromechanical components. If the first digit dialled by the subscriber is a zero, he or she is put through to the trunk or long-distance exchange. The electromechanical system exhibited here was in use in Hagen-Eilpe until 1994, when it was replaced by a digital switching system.
The W48 desktop telephone was developed for the Deutsche Bundespost by Siemens & Halske in 1948 in the western zone of occupied Germany and produced in very large quantities. Date of manufacture: 1954
This is the first computer developed by Heinz Nixdorf. He started work in July 1952 and it took him 15 months to complete. The electronic balancer is equipped with vacuum tubes. It is a one-off machine built especially for materials management at Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), where it supplemented the work of a Remington Rand tabulating machine, whose mechanical mode of operation was no match for the much faster Nixdorf electronics. Date of manufacture: 1953
The accounting machine Exacta-Continental 6000 was the ultimate in electromechanical office equipment: it could manage all accounting tasks with ease. It came with an optional Multitronic electronic multiplication unit manufactured by Heinz Nixdorf’s Labor für Impulstechnik, which signalled the beginning of a new data processing era from 1958 onwards. Date of manufacture: about 1958
The Zuse Z 11 was the first programmable relay computer from ZUSE KG to go into series production. It was used for mathematical calculations, its hard-wired programs having been designed for surveying tasks in particular. The last in a development series of electro-mechanically controlled computer systems, it contained relays as binary switching elements. These may have been slower than vacuum tubes, but were also more reliable, more durable and less expensive. Date of manufacture: 1958
The Curta is the only mechanical pocket calculator that is capable of performing all four basic arithmetic operations. The inventor of this precision-engineered masterpiece was an Austrian, Curt Herzstark (1902-1988). Date of manufacture: about 1965
The Anita was the first all-electronic, tube-based desktop calculator. Not only was it completely silent, but it operated much faster than mechanical machines, and was maintenance-free too. However, tubes were not an optimum technical solution for desktop calculators as they used a lot of electricity, were relatively susceptible to breakage and were expensive to produce. For this reason, this technology remained unique to the Anita. Mass production of such devices only became an option once transistors started to be used from around 1964 onwards. Date of manufacture: 1961
The linotype machine was a “line casting” machine used in printing. It replaced the extremely time-consuming manual type-setting process. The machine, which was patented in 1886, mechanised the setting and casting of letters. The setter entered text at a keyboard: every time a key was pressed, a matrix of the chosen letter fell into position from a magazine. The assembled line of matrices was cast as a single piece of type metal and filled with liquid lead once the spaces between words had been automatically adjusted. After cooling, this produced “A LINE OF TYPES”. Date of manufacture: 1962
At the start of the 1950s, VEB Optima Büromaschinenwerk Erfurt was asked to develop a typewriter for China as part of e socialist initiative to support allied nations. The Erfurt manufacturers based their design on the box-type typewriter first sold in 1917 by Nippon Typewriter Co. Ltd. in Tokyo. The “Chinese Optima” made its début in 1953. Subsequently, the Chinese bicycle factory “Flying Dove” took over production of the device, two versions of which were produced in China under the “Flying Dove” brand until the end of 1992. Date of manufacture: 1992
This computer originated from the Gemini II mission; it featured in an unmanned space flight on 19.01.1965. The Mercury and Gemini space programmes laid the groundwork for the moon landing. From 1963 onwards, the Gemini missions tested orbital coupling manoeuvres necessary to achieve rendezvous and docking. Safe, accurate manoeuvring was only possible with the aid of a computer. IBM’s commission to develop the on-board computer was worth $26.6 million. It was the first computer to have a magnetic core memory so that data was not destroyed when read out. It was also IBM’s first computer to be fully transistorised. The computer proved reliable in operation. Date of manufacture: about 1964
In 1965, the Digital Equipment Corporation presented the PDP-8, thereby marking the beginning of the mini-computer era. Priced at just 18,200 Dollars, this general-purpose computer was robust enough to be used in both production and laboratory environments. Some 10,000 of them were sold within the space of 10 years; by 1975, the PDP-8 cost just 2,600 Dollars. A whole variety of manufacturers tapped into the new market, building computers based on the PDP-8 for use in process and manufacturing technology and for controlling experiments in research. By 1975, more than 30 companies in the West German market alone were selling mini-computers. Date of manufacture: 1965
In 1964, Nixdorf developed the electronics for a desk-top calculator produced by office equipment manufacturer Wanderer, later building the components itself under licence. The “Wanderer Conti” was presented to the public for the first time in 1965 at the Hanover Trade Fair. It was the world’s first fully electronic desk-top calculator with printing output. In terms of design, the four-species calculator was a bona fide computer, boasting an arithmetic unit, a magnetic core memory, a printer and a threaded read-only memory (ROM). The Conti enabled Nixdorf to gain a foothold in the US market when the Chicago-based Victor Comptometer Corporation placed an order worth DM 100 million for the machine in 1968. Date of manufacture: 1966
The Olivetti Valentine is a mechanical typewriter that stands out largely by virtue of its unconventional appearance. It is regarded as a milestone in industrial design and is a sought-after collector’s item. Date of manufacture: early 1970s
The great success enjoyed by Nixdorf at the end of the 1960s and start of the 1970s was based largely on the computers of the 820 series. These were universal computers for companies of all sizes and could be used for almost any application area thanks to their modular construction and consistent application of the modular design system. Date of manufacture: 1974
Canon Canola Pocketronic, Sanyo ICC-82D, Sharp EL-8: The first battery-operated electronic pocket calculators were brought out virtually simultaneously in 1970 by Japanese firms Sanyo, Sharp and Canon. However, the "heart" of these first pocket calculators – the microchip – was produced by US companies such as Texas Instruments and Rockwell. Texas Instruments had developed the first portable prototype as early as 1967. But the Cal-Tech, as it was known, was merely supposed to demonstrate the power of the new chip and never went into series production. The huge sales potential of the pocket calculator had yet to be recognised, especially since it was still too expensive to produce. It was for this reason that Texas Instruments sold the technical design of the Cal-Tech to Canon, and only brought out its own pocket calculator in 1972. Date of manufacture: 1970
The Odyssey console laid the foundations for the video game era. In 1966 Ralph Baer, a US engineer of German descent, filed a patent for a kind of ping-pong game. This was ultimately granted in 1968. It was not until 1972 that the game was distributed with a gaming console by Magnavox. Poor marketing meant that although the video game wasn’t a commercial flop, it wasn’t a resounding financial success either. Date of manufacture: 1972
The HP-35 was the world's first scientific pocket calculator. Before it came along, slide rules and logarithm tables were required for trigonometric and exponential functions. Pocket calculators were only capable of the four basic arithmetic operations. The price for an HP-35 in 1972 was about DM 2,000. Date of manufacture: 1972
In 1970, the photocopier company Xerox founded a research centre in Palo Alto known as PARC. This is where the Xerox Alto was developed, a forerunner of much of the PC technology taken for granted today. The Alto had a graphical user interface and a mouse, and was the model on which first the Macintosh, then Windows were based. It was also fully network-capable: the Ethernet was another Xerox PARC invention. Many Alto system engineers later worked on the Apple Macintosh. Only around 1,000 examples of the Alto were built; it was a prototype and was never launched on the market. Date of manufacture: 1973
The January 1975 issue of the magazine Popular Electronics featured the forerunner of the first personal computer, the Altair 8800, which had been designed by Ed Roberts and his company MITS. It was available as a kit for 397 US dollars, making it the first computer that ordinary consumers could afford and marking the advent of widespread PC use. Incidentally, the Altair's name comes from a TV series. The twelve-year-old daughter of editor Les Solomon said: “Call it Altair. That's where the Enterprise is heading tonight.“ Date of manufacture: 1975
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple on 1 April 1976. Soon afterwards, they presented their first computer: the Apple I. A total of only 200 Apple I computers were made. Jobs and Wozniak built it in Jobs's parents' garage in Los Altos, California and sold it for $666. The Apple I was actually just a circuit board. Users had to make their own housing for it and add input and output devices themselves. There are still around 70 Apple I computers in existence worldwide. Date of manufacture: 1976
The Apple II was the first “personal“ desktop computer to achieve commercial success. In contrast to the Apple I, the main board was supplied in a plastic housing together with a keyboard, a monitor and software.  The Apple Writer word processor and VisiCalc spreadsheet software were key to its success. The Apple II marked the start of Apple's rise to become the world's most successful company. Date of manufacture: 1977
The computer centre from the Sachsenwerk in Dresden is part of a system that was only shut down in 1993. It played a role in GDR computer history and a part in the success story of a major computer system. The Einheitliches System Elektronischer Rechenanlagen (standardized system of electronic computers) is the functional replica of an IBM computer: ESER 1055 is compatible with the 370/155 in terms of hardware and software alike. These computer systems were built until well into the 1980s. Date of manufacture: about 1979
Whenever computers were mentioned in the 1960s and 1970s, IBM was the name on everyone's lips. Despite this, the manufacturing giant was so slow to react that it almost missed out on the personal computer revolution, eventually launching its own PC 5150 in August 1981. The device proved an immediate hit, becoming an office mainstay. After all, it was a product of THE computer company, a fact which engendered trust among businesses that had not had any faith in the models available on the market thus far. The IBM PC, which ran with Microsoft's DOS operating system, provided the industry standard that had been lacking for so long. Date of manufacture: 1984
When Adam Osborne founded his computer firm, he was already well-known on the burgeoning home-computer scene thanks to numerous books and articles he had published. Although others before him had toyed with the idea of building a portable computer, his model, the Osborne 1, was the first on the market. Compared with today’s laptops, the Osborne 1 was extremely heavy and unwieldy. Despite this drawback, it proved a big success and almost became a cult object. Unfortunately, Osborne’s company went bankrupt in 1983. Date of manufacture: 1983
Commodore presented the C64 in 1982. Two years after its launch, four million units had already been sold, breaking all previous records for computer sales. Ultimately, a total of over 20 million C64 computers were sold throughout the world. The C64 was sometimes referred to as the “breadbox“ or even the “neck rest“ due to its shape. Date of manufacture: 1982
Motorola launched the first commercial mobile phone in 1983: the Dynatac 8000X. This bulky forebear of today's mobile phones weighed almost 750 grams and cost around $400. Date of manufacture: 1983
Apple launched the Macintosh on 24 January 1984. The Mac broke with all the previously accepted notions about PCs. When Jef Raskin, the father of the Mac, proposed the project in 1979, his idea was to design a computer that was geared to people. The Mac enabled normal users to become acquainted with the graphical user interface featuring desktop, mouse and windows. All they had to do beforehand was to unpack it and plug it in. Although the Mac lost out to the IBM PCs in the office environment, it revolutionised the entire graphic design industry. Date of manufacture: 1984
The Cray-2 was the fastest computer in the world in 1985. It weighed 2.5 tonnes. It was supplied as a supercomputer with up to four processors, a peak performance of 2 GFLOPS, 2 GB of memory and a maximum clock speed of 4.1 ns. It is notable for its striking design. A total of 27 units were sold. Date of manufacture: 1985
The Nintendo Game Boy proved to be one of the most successful products in the company’s history. The hand-held video game device was launched on the market in a plain grey-and-white version in 1989. Its robust technology, ease of operation and low battery consumption all helped to make it the biggest-selling console of the time. Although the Game Boy was initially only available with the game Tetris, strangely enough this became part of its appeal: it wasn’t just for hard-core players, but for everyone. The Game Boy was manufactured until 2002 and 120 million devices were sold in all. Date of manufacture: about 1990
The Newton was Apple’s attempt to create a revolutionary new device. A feature of the PDA (Private Digital Assistant) was handwriting recognition software; the device also came with a stylus which was supposed to make entering text child’s play. The touch-sensitive screen would detect characters and words automatically as they were written. However, this feature never really worked properly at market launch, something which gave rise to less than glowing reviews in the press. The project was halted in 1998 when company founder Steve Jobs re-joined the company. Date of manufacture: 1993
Robot soccer represents a major challenge for researchers in the field of artificial intelligence. A proving ground for the state of science in this field, it is also a means of promoting university-level education. Since 1997, international RoboCup matches featuring research teams from all over the world have been held in various leagues. This model – a third-generation, Middle Size League robot – belongs to the Fraunhofer Institut. Each robot has its own sensors and can make decisions completely autonomously. The robots can, however, communicate wirelessly with one another and with a computer. Date of manufacture: 1999
The robot dog AIBO was perhaps the most technically sophisticated toy ever to be created by its Japanese manufacturer Sony: the battery-operated dog came with 18 electrically controlled joints, microphones, loudspeakers, emotion display, 64-bit processor and a balance system to enable it to stand up. Date of manufacture: 1999
Lauron stands for “LAUfROboter Neuronal gesteuert” (English: “Walking Robot, Neural Controlled”). The walking robot (the 3rd generation of which is on show) was developed in order to research statically stable walking in rough terrain. Its movements are biologically inspired, mimicking those of a stick insect. Each leg can respond semi-autonomously to impulses; the movements are coordinated at a higher level. Lauron is able to gather information about its environment and plan a path towards a given goal autonomously. While walking, the robot uses sensors to detect potential obstacles and then either walks over or around them. Date of manufacture: 1999
Using a camera, this 2nd-generation face robot scans the viewer’s facial expression, which is then recognised and interpreted by software based on a neural net. From a repertoire of pre-programmed responses, the robot’s mechanism is activated and a matching facial expression is generated. The mechanical and electronic parts of the Mark II were covered by a silicone skin to create a robot face that looks as human as possible. Fumio Hara, Science University of Tokyo, Japan, 2001
RoboThespian is a life-sized humanoid robot designed for human interaction in public environments. It can sing as well as tell jokes and recite text passages. Visitors can choose from a selection of programmed text sequences for the metallic creation to read out, accompanied by a range of gestures. Date of manufacture: 2011
The earliest documents written on clay tablets in cuneiform script were used for tax and accounting purposes. Records were kept of the bread rations paid to workers, for example. The precise history is not known. About 2350-2100 BC
Wilhelm Schickard wanted to “mechanise” the laborious and error-prone task of calculating astronomical tables. In 1623 he had two calculating machines built to his specifications in a mechanic’s workshop in Tübingen – one for himself, the other for Johannes Kepler. The practical benefits of his “calculating clock” appeared somewhat dubious at the time, as the system based on logarithmic tables was superior. Regrettably, both machines were destroyed in a fire at the workshop and the invention was forgotten. This reconstruction of the machine by Baron von Freytag Löringhoff was completed in 1957. Date of manufacture: 1957
In 1678, French watchmaker René Grillet presented the “Machine arithmétique” which was capable of carrying out all four basic arithmetic operations. Constructed largely out of paper, the invention used so-called Napier’s rods that had been around since 1617 for the calculation process. It is an excellent example of the early days of mechanical calculation and an ancestor of today’s pocket calculator. Date of manufacture: 1678
This calculating machine, invented by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, was built in the years from 1690 to 1720. It represents a historic milestone in the development of mechanical calculating machines because it was the first to perform all four arithmetic operations. Leibniz's operating mechanism, known as the stepped cylinder or Leibniz wheel, allowed multiplication to be performed mechanically and remained an indispensable component of mechanical calculators for over 200 years. Functioning replica of the only remaining original (at the Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek in Hanover), built to plans by N. Joachim Lehmann. HNF replica: 1995
The device popularly known as the “Chess Turk“ was built in 1769 by Austrian court official Wolfgang von Kempelen in such a way as to convince spectators that they were watching an “automated chess player“. In fact an individual of quite normal size sat inside and controlled the gripper arm with the aid of levers and cable winches. Magnetised chess pieces and small magnetic pins on the underside of the board enabled the moves to be followed by the person within. Functional HNF replica: 2004
An Arithmometer is a mechanical calculating machine invented by the Frenchman Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar (1785-1870). It was the world's first calculating machine to go into series production. As well as addition and subtraction, it could perform multiplication and division by means of repeated addition and subtraction. This luxury version of the calculating machine was a gift to the king of Portugal. Date of manufacture: about 1855
The Hansen Writing Ball was the world's first typewriter to be produced commercially, albeit in small batches. It was developed in 1865 by Rasmus Johann Malling-Hansen, a Danish pastor and teacher of deaf-mutes. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a well-known user. Date of manufacture: about 1878
The name Morse and the code of the same name became synonymous with telegraphy. His procedure for transmitting text information via a series of pulses (dots and dashes) and the silences between them helped the technology achieve a breakthrough. The most important components of the Ericsson Morse Telegraph Type TA 100 for receiving messages (“sounder”) are an electromagnet, an armature, a mechanical clockwork to move the paper tape, a coloured stylus and a roll of paper. A Morse key is required to transmit messages. Date of manufacture: about 1880
In 1883, Englishman Joseph Edmondson obtained a patent for a circular calculating machine based on the stepped-drum mechanism. His design was based on Thomas de Colmar’s simple “arithmomètre”. The advantage of Edmondson’s machine was that it was not limited to a certain number of decimal places if a division produced a remainder. Date of manufacture: about 1885
This machine is a replica of the first Hollerith machine that was used so successfully to complete the first census in the USA thanks to the use of punched cards. It provided a much faster way of counting the vast amount of data gathered. The Hollerith machine consists of two hinged plates, a switch panel with relays, a counting device with 40 counters and a sorting box. When one of the pins on the plates meets a hole in the punched card, a circuit is completed and an electric pulse causes the pointer of a counter to advance accordingly. The respective compartment of the sorting box is also opened, and the operator can place the analysed punched card into it by hand. Functional HNF replica: 2006
The comptometer was the first exclusively key-driven mechanical calculator. The “wooden box” was a precursor to the full-keyboard adding machines built between 1886 and 1904. According to its manufacturer’s promotional material, it was the world’s first adding machine with a practical application. Date of manufacture: about 1900
The Underwood No. 5, which appeared in 1900, was the first classic modern typewriter (with visible text, upper- and lower-case letters and tab stops). It set the standard for all subsequent typewriters worldwide until they were superseded first by IBM electric typewriters, which used a type ball instead of type bars, and then by PCs. Date of manufacture: 1915
This extremely compact table-top telephone with a quirky design was also known as the “Pferdefuss” or “horse’s hoof” in Bavaria due to its shape. It was the approved standard dialling apparatus only in Bavaria. Incidentally, the device was referred to as the “cow’s hoof” in Prussia. Date of manufacture: from 1925 onwards
In 1879 the Ritty brothers filed a patent application for the first cash register in the USA. Businessman John H. Patterson acquired the rights to manufacture cash registers in 1884 and founded the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio. The NCR 400 series models were among the standard cash registers in use at the time. They were favoured by retail outlets because of their robust nature. Model 422 has five rows of keys and features 42 keys in all. The indicators are in English and show sums of pounds and pence. Date of manufacture: 1910
The Kryha Liliput is a very rare cipher machine in pocket-watch format. The machine consisted of two concentric rings, each featuring an alphabet and numbers. The user would operate it by pushing a lever to step the inner ring a random number of places against the outer ring, thereby changing the relationship between the two. Although Kryha’s devices were a commercial success, they were cryptographically weak as the period lengths of the codes were generally quite short. The Kryha Liliput was cryptographically compatible with its “big sister”, the Kryha Standard. Date of manufacture: about 1926
The legendary Enigma cipher machine was developed in the early 1920s by the German engineer Artur Scherbius in Berlin and initially marketed for commercial purposes. The machine has three rotors, each of which performs an alphabetic substitution cipher. By combining the rotors in series and using a plugboard with variable wiring, very complex scrambling of the message can be achieved. Date of manufacture: about 1942
The T52 e was a World War II German cipher machine and teleprinter. Due to its size and weight, however, it was only ever used as a stationary device. Unlike the Enigma, messages were encrypted and deciphered automatically. On 20 July 1944, the resistance group led by Claus von Stauffenberg used the device to issue encrypted commands for Operation Valkyrie, the plot to assassinate Hitler. Date of manufacture: 1942
The first functioning electronic computer consisted of 40 panels with almost 18,000 vacuum tubes. J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly were commissioned to construct a vacuum-tube computer by the US Army in 1943. ENIAC, which was 1,000 times faster than other calculating machines, was developed by the young scientists at the Moore School of Electronics in Philadelphia. It required just eight hours to perform calculations that had previously taken an entire year. The high processing capacity was needed by the US Army to calculate artillery firing tables. Mauchly wanted to use ENIAC’s speed to produce more accurate weather forecasts, which is why its inventors built a “universal machine“. Date of manufacture: 1946
The history of IBM in Germany dates back to 1910, with the founding of DEHOMAG (Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH) in Berlin. The company was renamed IBM Deutschland GmbH in 1949, when it relocated to Böblingen. The D 11 tabulator, which was manufactured from 1935 onwards, was the first German machine of its kind. Used for punched card analysis, its ability to read, count, compute and print cards made it the mainstay of many so-called Hollerith departments. The machine proved a milestone in the development of punched card technology: It was on sale until 1960, latterly as the IBM D11 Type 450. Around 1,100 D 11 models were sold in all. Date of manufacture: between 1949 and 1960
In the early days of telephony, calls were connected manually by a switchboard operator . The next stage of development saw the introduction of automatic telephone exchanges which dispensed with the need for human intervention. A local telephone exchange establishes connections between the subscribers of a local network. In this case, an analogue electrical signal is switched via electromechanical components. If the first digit dialled by the subscriber is a zero, he or she is put through to the trunk or long-distance exchange. The electromechanical system exhibited here was in use in Hagen-Eilpe until 1994, when it was replaced by a digital switching system.
The W48 desktop telephone was developed for the Deutsche Bundespost by Siemens & Halske in 1948 in the western zone of occupied Germany and produced in very large quantities. Date of manufacture: 1954
This is the first computer developed by Heinz Nixdorf. He started work in July 1952 and it took him 15 months to complete. The electronic balancer is equipped with vacuum tubes. It is a one-off machine built especially for materials management at Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), where it supplemented the work of a Remington Rand tabulating machine, whose mechanical mode of operation was no match for the much faster Nixdorf electronics. Date of manufacture: 1953
The accounting machine Exacta-Continental 6000 was the ultimate in electromechanical office equipment: it could manage all accounting tasks with ease. It came with an optional Multitronic electronic multiplication unit manufactured by Heinz Nixdorf’s Labor für Impulstechnik, which signalled the beginning of a new data processing era from 1958 onwards. Date of manufacture: about 1958
The Zuse Z 11 was the first programmable relay computer from ZUSE KG to go into series production. It was used for mathematical calculations, its hard-wired programs having been designed for surveying tasks in particular. The last in a development series of electro-mechanically controlled computer systems, it contained relays as binary switching elements. These may have been slower than vacuum tubes, but were also more reliable, more durable and less expensive. Date of manufacture: 1958
The Curta is the only mechanical pocket calculator that is capable of performing all four basic arithmetic operations. The inventor of this precision-engineered masterpiece was an Austrian, Curt Herzstark (1902-1988). Date of manufacture: about 1965
The Anita was the first all-electronic, tube-based desktop calculator. Not only was it completely silent, but it operated much faster than mechanical machines, and was maintenance-free too. However, tubes were not an optimum technical solution for desktop calculators as they used a lot of electricity, were relatively susceptible to breakage and were expensive to produce. For this reason, this technology remained unique to the Anita. Mass production of such devices only became an option once transistors started to be used from around 1964 onwards. Date of manufacture: 1961
The linotype machine was a “line casting” machine used in printing. It replaced the extremely time-consuming manual type-setting process. The machine, which was patented in 1886, mechanised the setting and casting of letters. The setter entered text at a keyboard: every time a key was pressed, a matrix of the chosen letter fell into position from a magazine. The assembled line of matrices was cast as a single piece of type metal and filled with liquid lead once the spaces between words had been automatically adjusted. After cooling, this produced “A LINE OF TYPES”. Date of manufacture: 1962
At the start of the 1950s, VEB Optima Büromaschinenwerk Erfurt was asked to develop a typewriter for China as part of e socialist initiative to support allied nations. The Erfurt manufacturers based their design on the box-type typewriter first sold in 1917 by Nippon Typewriter Co. Ltd. in Tokyo. The “Chinese Optima” made its début in 1953. Subsequently, the Chinese bicycle factory “Flying Dove” took over production of the device, two versions of which were produced in China under the “Flying Dove” brand until the end of 1992. Date of manufacture: 1992
This computer originated from the Gemini II mission; it featured in an unmanned space flight on 19.01.1965. The Mercury and Gemini space programmes laid the groundwork for the moon landing. From 1963 onwards, the Gemini missions tested orbital coupling manoeuvres necessary to achieve rendezvous and docking. Safe, accurate manoeuvring was only possible with the aid of a computer. IBM’s commission to develop the on-board computer was worth $26.6 million. It was the first computer to have a magnetic core memory so that data was not destroyed when read out. It was also IBM’s first computer to be fully transistorised. The computer proved reliable in operation. Date of manufacture: about 1964
In 1965, the Digital Equipment Corporation presented the PDP-8, thereby marking the beginning of the mini-computer era. Priced at just 18,200 Dollars, this general-purpose computer was robust enough to be used in both production and laboratory environments. Some 10,000 of them were sold within the space of 10 years; by 1975, the PDP-8 cost just 2,600 Dollars. A whole variety of manufacturers tapped into the new market, building computers based on the PDP-8 for use in process and manufacturing technology and for controlling experiments in research. By 1975, more than 30 companies in the West German market alone were selling mini-computers. Date of manufacture: 1965
In 1964, Nixdorf developed the electronics for a desk-top calculator produced by office equipment manufacturer Wanderer, later building the components itself under licence. The “Wanderer Conti” was presented to the public for the first time in 1965 at the Hanover Trade Fair. It was the world’s first fully electronic desk-top calculator with printing output. In terms of design, the four-species calculator was a bona fide computer, boasting an arithmetic unit, a magnetic core memory, a printer and a threaded read-only memory (ROM). The Conti enabled Nixdorf to gain a foothold in the US market when the Chicago-based Victor Comptometer Corporation placed an order worth DM 100 million for the machine in 1968. Date of manufacture: 1966
The Olivetti Valentine is a mechanical typewriter that stands out largely by virtue of its unconventional appearance. It is regarded as a milestone in industrial design and is a sought-after collector’s item. Date of manufacture: early 1970s
The great success enjoyed by Nixdorf at the end of the 1960s and start of the 1970s was based largely on the computers of the 820 series. These were universal computers for companies of all sizes and could be used for almost any application area thanks to their modular construction and consistent application of the modular design system. Date of manufacture: 1974
Canon Canola Pocketronic, Sanyo ICC-82D, Sharp EL-8: The first battery-operated electronic pocket calculators were brought out virtually simultaneously in 1970 by Japanese firms Sanyo, Sharp and Canon. However, the "heart" of these first pocket calculators – the microchip – was produced by US companies such as Texas Instruments and Rockwell. Texas Instruments had developed the first portable prototype as early as 1967. But the Cal-Tech, as it was known, was merely supposed to demonstrate the power of the new chip and never went into series production. The huge sales potential of the pocket calculator had yet to be recognised, especially since it was still too expensive to produce. It was for this reason that Texas Instruments sold the technical design of the Cal-Tech to Canon, and only brought out its own pocket calculator in 1972. Date of manufacture: 1970
The Odyssey console laid the foundations for the video game era. In 1966 Ralph Baer, a US engineer of German descent, filed a patent for a kind of ping-pong game. This was ultimately granted in 1968. It was not until 1972 that the game was distributed with a gaming console by Magnavox. Poor marketing meant that although the video game wasn’t a commercial flop, it wasn’t a resounding financial success either. Date of manufacture: 1972
The HP-35 was the world's first scientific pocket calculator. Before it came along, slide rules and logarithm tables were required for trigonometric and exponential functions. Pocket calculators were only capable of the four basic arithmetic operations. The price for an HP-35 in 1972 was about DM 2,000. Date of manufacture: 1972
In 1970, the photocopier company Xerox founded a research centre in Palo Alto known as PARC. This is where the Xerox Alto was developed, a forerunner of much of the PC technology taken for granted today. The Alto had a graphical user interface and a mouse, and was the model on which first the Macintosh, then Windows were based. It was also fully network-capable: the Ethernet was another Xerox PARC invention. Many Alto system engineers later worked on the Apple Macintosh. Only around 1,000 examples of the Alto were built; it was a prototype and was never launched on the market. Date of manufacture: 1973
The January 1975 issue of the magazine Popular Electronics featured the forerunner of the first personal computer, the Altair 8800, which had been designed by Ed Roberts and his company MITS. It was available as a kit for 397 US dollars, making it the first computer that ordinary consumers could afford and marking the advent of widespread PC use. Incidentally, the Altair's name comes from a TV series. The twelve-year-old daughter of editor Les Solomon said: “Call it Altair. That's where the Enterprise is heading tonight.“ Date of manufacture: 1975
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple on 1 April 1976. Soon afterwards, they presented their first computer: the Apple I. A total of only 200 Apple I computers were made. Jobs and Wozniak built it in Jobs's parents' garage in Los Altos, California and sold it for $666. The Apple I was actually just a circuit board. Users had to make their own housing for it and add input and output devices themselves. There are still around 70 Apple I computers in existence worldwide. Date of manufacture: 1976
The Apple II was the first “personal“ desktop computer to achieve commercial success. In contrast to the Apple I, the main board was supplied in a plastic housing together with a keyboard, a monitor and software.  The Apple Writer word processor and VisiCalc spreadsheet software were key to its success. The Apple II marked the start of Apple's rise to become the world's most successful company. Date of manufacture: 1977
The computer centre from the Sachsenwerk in Dresden is part of a system that was only shut down in 1993. It played a role in GDR computer history and a part in the success story of a major computer system. The Einheitliches System Elektronischer Rechenanlagen (standardized system of electronic computers) is the functional replica of an IBM computer: ESER 1055 is compatible with the 370/155 in terms of hardware and software alike. These computer systems were built until well into the 1980s. Date of manufacture: about 1979
Whenever computers were mentioned in the 1960s and 1970s, IBM was the name on everyone's lips. Despite this, the manufacturing giant was so slow to react that it almost missed out on the personal computer revolution, eventually launching its own PC 5150 in August 1981. The device proved an immediate hit, becoming an office mainstay. After all, it was a product of THE computer company, a fact which engendered trust among businesses that had not had any faith in the models available on the market thus far. The IBM PC, which ran with Microsoft's DOS operating system, provided the industry standard that had been lacking for so long. Date of manufacture: 1984
When Adam Osborne founded his computer firm, he was already well-known on the burgeoning home-computer scene thanks to numerous books and articles he had published. Although others before him had toyed with the idea of building a portable computer, his model, the Osborne 1, was the first on the market. Compared with today’s laptops, the Osborne 1 was extremely heavy and unwieldy. Despite this drawback, it proved a big success and almost became a cult object. Unfortunately, Osborne’s company went bankrupt in 1983. Date of manufacture: 1983
Commodore presented the C64 in 1982. Two years after its launch, four million units had already been sold, breaking all previous records for computer sales. Ultimately, a total of over 20 million C64 computers were sold throughout the world. The C64 was sometimes referred to as the “breadbox“ or even the “neck rest“ due to its shape. Date of manufacture: 1982
Motorola launched the first commercial mobile phone in 1983: the Dynatac 8000X. This bulky forebear of today's mobile phones weighed almost 750 grams and cost around $400. Date of manufacture: 1983
Apple launched the Macintosh on 24 January 1984. The Mac broke with all the previously accepted notions about PCs. When Jef Raskin, the father of the Mac, proposed the project in 1979, his idea was to design a computer that was geared to people. The Mac enabled normal users to become acquainted with the graphical user interface featuring desktop, mouse and windows. All they had to do beforehand was to unpack it and plug it in. Although the Mac lost out to the IBM PCs in the office environment, it revolutionised the entire graphic design industry. Date of manufacture: 1984
The Cray-2 was the fastest computer in the world in 1985. It weighed 2.5 tonnes. It was supplied as a supercomputer with up to four processors, a peak performance of 2 GFLOPS, 2 GB of memory and a maximum clock speed of 4.1 ns. It is notable for its striking design. A total of 27 units were sold. Date of manufacture: 1985
The Nintendo Game Boy proved to be one of the most successful products in the company’s history. The hand-held video game device was launched on the market in a plain grey-and-white version in 1989. Its robust technology, ease of operation and low battery consumption all helped to make it the biggest-selling console of the time. Although the Game Boy was initially only available with the game Tetris, strangely enough this became part of its appeal: it wasn’t just for hard-core players, but for everyone. The Game Boy was manufactured until 2002 and 120 million devices were sold in all. Date of manufacture: about 1990
The Newton was Apple’s attempt to create a revolutionary new device. A feature of the PDA (Private Digital Assistant) was handwriting recognition software; the device also came with a stylus which was supposed to make entering text child’s play. The touch-sensitive screen would detect characters and words automatically as they were written. However, this feature never really worked properly at market launch, something which gave rise to less than glowing reviews in the press. The project was halted in 1998 when company founder Steve Jobs re-joined the company. Date of manufacture: 1993
Robot soccer represents a major challenge for researchers in the field of artificial intelligence. A proving ground for the state of science in this field, it is also a means of promoting university-level education. Since 1997, international RoboCup matches featuring research teams from all over the world have been held in various leagues. This model – a third-generation, Middle Size League robot – belongs to the Fraunhofer Institut. Each robot has its own sensors and can make decisions completely autonomously. The robots can, however, communicate wirelessly with one another and with a computer. Date of manufacture: 1999
The robot dog AIBO was perhaps the most technically sophisticated toy ever to be created by its Japanese manufacturer Sony: the battery-operated dog came with 18 electrically controlled joints, microphones, loudspeakers, emotion display, 64-bit processor and a balance system to enable it to stand up. Date of manufacture: 1999
Lauron stands for “LAUfROboter Neuronal gesteuert” (English: “Walking Robot, Neural Controlled”). The walking robot (the 3rd generation of which is on show) was developed in order to research statically stable walking in rough terrain. Its movements are biologically inspired, mimicking those of a stick insect. Each leg can respond semi-autonomously to impulses; the movements are coordinated at a higher level. Lauron is able to gather information about its environment and plan a path towards a given goal autonomously. While walking, the robot uses sensors to detect potential obstacles and then either walks over or around them. Date of manufacture: 1999
Using a camera, this 2nd-generation face robot scans the viewer’s facial expression, which is then recognised and interpreted by software based on a neural net. From a repertoire of pre-programmed responses, the robot’s mechanism is activated and a matching facial expression is generated. The mechanical and electronic parts of the Mark II were covered by a silicone skin to create a robot face that looks as human as possible. Fumio Hara, Science University of Tokyo, Japan, 2001
RoboThespian is a life-sized humanoid robot designed for human interaction in public environments. It can sing as well as tell jokes and recite text passages. Visitors can choose from a selection of programmed text sequences for the metallic creation to read out, accompanied by a range of gestures. Date of manufacture: 2011
The earliest documents written on clay tablets in cuneiform script were used for tax and accounting purposes. Records were kept of the bread rations paid to workers, for example. The precise history is not known. About 2350-2100 BC
Wilhelm Schickard wanted to “mechanise” the laborious and error-prone task of calculating astronomical tables. In 1623 he had two calculating machines built to his specifications in a mechanic’s workshop in Tübingen – one for himself, the other for Johannes Kepler. The practical benefits of his “calculating clock” appeared somewhat dubious at the time, as the system based on logarithmic tables was superior. Regrettably, both machines were destroyed in a fire at the workshop and the invention was forgotten. This reconstruction of the machine by Baron von Freytag Löringhoff was completed in 1957. Date of manufacture: 1957
In 1678, French watchmaker René Grillet presented the “Machine arithmétique” which was capable of carrying out all four basic arithmetic operations. Constructed largely out of paper, the invention used so-called Napier’s rods that had been around since 1617 for the calculation process. It is an excellent example of the early days of mechanical calculation and an ancestor of today’s pocket calculator. Date of manufacture: 1678
This calculating machine, invented by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, was built in the years from 1690 to 1720. It represents a historic milestone in the development of mechanical calculating machines because it was the first to perform all four arithmetic operations. Leibniz's operating mechanism, known as the stepped cylinder or Leibniz wheel, allowed multiplication to be performed mechanically and remained an indispensable component of mechanical calculators for over 200 years. Functioning replica of the only remaining original (at the Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek in Hanover), built to plans by N. Joachim Lehmann. HNF replica: 1995
The device popularly known as the “Chess Turk“ was built in 1769 by Austrian court official Wolfgang von Kempelen in such a way as to convince spectators that they were watching an “automated chess player“. In fact an individual of quite normal size sat inside and controlled the gripper arm with the aid of levers and cable winches. Magnetised chess pieces and small magnetic pins on the underside of the board enabled the moves to be followed by the person within. Functional HNF replica: 2004
An Arithmometer is a mechanical calculating machine invented by the Frenchman Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar (1785-1870). It was the world's first calculating machine to go into series production. As well as addition and subtraction, it could perform multiplication and division by means of repeated addition and subtraction. This luxury version of the calculating machine was a gift to the king of Portugal. Date of manufacture: about 1855
The Hansen Writing Ball was the world's first typewriter to be produced commercially, albeit in small batches. It was developed in 1865 by Rasmus Johann Malling-Hansen, a Danish pastor and teacher of deaf-mutes. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a well-known user. Date of manufacture: about 1878
The name Morse and the code of the same name became synonymous with telegraphy. His procedure for transmitting text information via a series of pulses (dots and dashes) and the silences between them helped the technology achieve a breakthrough. The most important components of the Ericsson Morse Telegraph Type TA 100 for receiving messages (“sounder”) are an electromagnet, an armature, a mechanical clockwork to move the paper tape, a coloured stylus and a roll of paper. A Morse key is required to transmit messages. Date of manufacture: about 1880
In 1883, Englishman Joseph Edmondson obtained a patent for a circular calculating machine based on the stepped-drum mechanism. His design was based on Thomas de Colmar’s simple “arithmomètre”. The advantage of Edmondson’s machine was that it was not limited to a certain number of decimal places if a division produced a remainder. Date of manufacture: about 1885
This machine is a replica of the first Hollerith machine that was used so successfully to complete the first census in the USA thanks to the use of punched cards. It provided a much faster way of counting the vast amount of data gathered. The Hollerith machine consists of two hinged plates, a switch panel with relays, a counting device with 40 counters and a sorting box. When one of the pins on the plates meets a hole in the punched card, a circuit is completed and an electric pulse causes the pointer of a counter to advance accordingly. The respective compartment of the sorting box is also opened, and the operator can place the analysed punched card into it by hand. Functional HNF replica: 2006
The comptometer was the first exclusively key-driven mechanical calculator. The “wooden box” was a precursor to the full-keyboard adding machines built between 1886 and 1904. According to its manufacturer’s promotional material, it was the world’s first adding machine with a practical application. Date of manufacture: about 1900
The Underwood No. 5, which appeared in 1900, was the first classic modern typewriter (with visible text, upper- and lower-case letters and tab stops). It set the standard for all subsequent typewriters worldwide until they were superseded first by IBM electric typewriters, which used a type ball instead of type bars, and then by PCs. Date of manufacture: 1915
This extremely compact table-top telephone with a quirky design was also known as the “Pferdefuss” or “horse’s hoof” in Bavaria due to its shape. It was the approved standard dialling apparatus only in Bavaria. Incidentally, the device was referred to as the “cow’s hoof” in Prussia. Date of manufacture: from 1925 onwards
In 1879 the Ritty brothers filed a patent application for the first cash register in the USA. Businessman John H. Patterson acquired the rights to manufacture cash registers in 1884 and founded the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio. The NCR 400 series models were among the standard cash registers in use at the time. They were favoured by retail outlets because of their robust nature. Model 422 has five rows of keys and features 42 keys in all. The indicators are in English and show sums of pounds and pence. Date of manufacture: 1910
The Kryha Liliput is a very rare cipher machine in pocket-watch format. The machine consisted of two concentric rings, each featuring an alphabet and numbers. The user would operate it by pushing a lever to step the inner ring a random number of places against the outer ring, thereby changing the relationship between the two. Although Kryha’s devices were a commercial success, they were cryptographically weak as the period lengths of the codes were generally quite short. The Kryha Liliput was cryptographically compatible with its “big sister”, the Kryha Standard. Date of manufacture: about 1926
The legendary Enigma cipher machine was developed in the early 1920s by the German engineer Artur Scherbius in Berlin and initially marketed for commercial purposes. The machine has three rotors, each of which performs an alphabetic substitution cipher. By combining the rotors in series and using a plugboard with variable wiring, very complex scrambling of the message can be achieved. Date of manufacture: about 1942
The T52 e was a World War II German cipher machine and teleprinter. Due to its size and weight, however, it was only ever used as a stationary device. Unlike the Enigma, messages were encrypted and deciphered automatically. On 20 July 1944, the resistance group led by Claus von Stauffenberg used the device to issue encrypted commands for Operation Valkyrie, the plot to assassinate Hitler. Date of manufacture: 1942
The first functioning electronic computer consisted of 40 panels with almost 18,000 vacuum tubes. J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly were commissioned to construct a vacuum-tube computer by the US Army in 1943. ENIAC, which was 1,000 times faster than other calculating machines, was developed by the young scientists at the Moore School of Electronics in Philadelphia. It required just eight hours to perform calculations that had previously taken an entire year. The high processing capacity was needed by the US Army to calculate artillery firing tables. Mauchly wanted to use ENIAC’s speed to produce more accurate weather forecasts, which is why its inventors built a “universal machine“. Date of manufacture: 1946
The history of IBM in Germany dates back to 1910, with the founding of DEHOMAG (Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH) in Berlin. The company was renamed IBM Deutschland GmbH in 1949, when it relocated to Böblingen. The D 11 tabulator, which was manufactured from 1935 onwards, was the first German machine of its kind. Used for punched card analysis, its ability to read, count, compute and print cards made it the mainstay of many so-called Hollerith departments. The machine proved a milestone in the development of punched card technology: It was on sale until 1960, latterly as the IBM D11 Type 450. Around 1,100 D 11 models were sold in all. Date of manufacture: between 1949 and 1960
In the early days of telephony, calls were connected manually by a switchboard operator . The next stage of development saw the introduction of automatic telephone exchanges which dispensed with the need for human intervention. A local telephone exchange establishes connections between the subscribers of a local network. In this case, an analogue electrical signal is switched via electromechanical components. If the first digit dialled by the subscriber is a zero, he or she is put through to the trunk or long-distance exchange. The electromechanical system exhibited here was in use in Hagen-Eilpe until 1994, when it was replaced by a digital switching system.
The W48 desktop telephone was developed for the Deutsche Bundespost by Siemens & Halske in 1948 in the western zone of occupied Germany and produced in very large quantities. Date of manufacture: 1954
This is the first computer developed by Heinz Nixdorf. He started work in July 1952 and it took him 15 months to complete. The electronic balancer is equipped with vacuum tubes. It is a one-off machine built especially for materials management at Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), where it supplemented the work of a Remington Rand tabulating machine, whose mechanical mode of operation was no match for the much faster Nixdorf electronics. Date of manufacture: 1953
The accounting machine Exacta-Continental 6000 was the ultimate in electromechanical office equipment: it could manage all accounting tasks with ease. It came with an optional Multitronic electronic multiplication unit manufactured by Heinz Nixdorf’s Labor für Impulstechnik, which signalled the beginning of a new data processing era from 1958 onwards. Date of manufacture: about 1958
The Zuse Z 11 was the first programmable relay computer from ZUSE KG to go into series production. It was used for mathematical calculations, its hard-wired programs having been designed for surveying tasks in particular. The last in a development series of electro-mechanically controlled computer systems, it contained relays as binary switching elements. These may have been slower than vacuum tubes, but were also more reliable, more durable and less expensive. Date of manufacture: 1958
The Curta is the only mechanical pocket calculator that is capable of performing all four basic arithmetic operations. The inventor of this precision-engineered masterpiece was an Austrian, Curt Herzstark (1902-1988). Date of manufacture: about 1965
The Anita was the first all-electronic, tube-based desktop calculator. Not only was it completely silent, but it operated much faster than mechanical machines, and was maintenance-free too. However, tubes were not an optimum technical solution for desktop calculators as they used a lot of electricity, were relatively susceptible to breakage and were expensive to produce. For this reason, this technology remained unique to the Anita. Mass production of such devices only became an option once transistors started to be used from around 1964 onwards. Date of manufacture: 1961
The linotype machine was a “line casting” machine used in printing. It replaced the extremely time-consuming manual type-setting process. The machine, which was patented in 1886, mechanised the setting and casting of letters. The setter entered text at a keyboard: every time a key was pressed, a matrix of the chosen letter fell into position from a magazine. The assembled line of matrices was cast as a single piece of type metal and filled with liquid lead once the spaces between words had been automatically adjusted. After cooling, this produced “A LINE OF TYPES”. Date of manufacture: 1962
At the start of the 1950s, VEB Optima Büromaschinenwerk Erfurt was asked to develop a typewriter for China as part of e socialist initiative to support allied nations. The Erfurt manufacturers based their design on the box-type typewriter first sold in 1917 by Nippon Typewriter Co. Ltd. in Tokyo. The “Chinese Optima” made its début in 1953. Subsequently, the Chinese bicycle factory “Flying Dove” took over production of the device, two versions of which were produced in China under the “Flying Dove” brand until the end of 1992. Date of manufacture: 1992
This computer originated from the Gemini II mission; it featured in an unmanned space flight on 19.01.1965. The Mercury and Gemini space programmes laid the groundwork for the moon landing. From 1963 onwards, the Gemini missions tested orbital coupling manoeuvres necessary to achieve rendezvous and docking. Safe, accurate manoeuvring was only possible with the aid of a computer. IBM’s commission to develop the on-board computer was worth $26.6 million. It was the first computer to have a magnetic core memory so that data was not destroyed when read out. It was also IBM’s first computer to be fully transistorised. The computer proved reliable in operation. Date of manufacture: about 1964
In 1965, the Digital Equipment Corporation presented the PDP-8, thereby marking the beginning of the mini-computer era. Priced at just 18,200 Dollars, this general-purpose computer was robust enough to be used in both production and laboratory environments. Some 10,000 of them were sold within the space of 10 years; by 1975, the PDP-8 cost just 2,600 Dollars. A whole variety of manufacturers tapped into the new market, building computers based on the PDP-8 for use in process and manufacturing technology and for controlling experiments in research. By 1975, more than 30 companies in the West German market alone were selling mini-computers. Date of manufacture: 1965
In 1964, Nixdorf developed the electronics for a desk-top calculator produced by office equipment manufacturer Wanderer, later building the components itself under licence. The “Wanderer Conti” was presented to the public for the first time in 1965 at the Hanover Trade Fair. It was the world’s first fully electronic desk-top calculator with printing output. In terms of design, the four-species calculator was a bona fide computer, boasting an arithmetic unit, a magnetic core memory, a printer and a threaded read-only memory (ROM). The Conti enabled Nixdorf to gain a foothold in the US market when the Chicago-based Victor Comptometer Corporation placed an order worth DM 100 million for the machine in 1968. Date of manufacture: 1966
The Olivetti Valentine is a mechanical typewriter that stands out largely by virtue of its unconventional appearance. It is regarded as a milestone in industrial design and is a sought-after collector’s item. Date of manufacture: early 1970s
The great success enjoyed by Nixdorf at the end of the 1960s and start of the 1970s was based largely on the computers of the 820 series. These were universal computers for companies of all sizes and could be used for almost any application area thanks to their modular construction and consistent application of the modular design system. Date of manufacture: 1974
Canon Canola Pocketronic, Sanyo ICC-82D, Sharp EL-8: The first battery-operated electronic pocket calculators were brought out virtually simultaneously in 1970 by Japanese firms Sanyo, Sharp and Canon. However, the "heart" of these first pocket calculators – the microchip – was produced by US companies such as Texas Instruments and Rockwell. Texas Instruments had developed the first portable prototype as early as 1967. But the Cal-Tech, as it was known, was merely supposed to demonstrate the power of the new chip and never went into series production. The huge sales potential of the pocket calculator had yet to be recognised, especially since it was still too expensive to produce. It was for this reason that Texas Instruments sold the technical design of the Cal-Tech to Canon, and only brought out its own pocket calculator in 1972. Date of manufacture: 1970
The Odyssey console laid the foundations for the video game era. In 1966 Ralph Baer, a US engineer of German descent, filed a patent for a kind of ping-pong game. This was ultimately granted in 1968. It was not until 1972 that the game was distributed with a gaming console by Magnavox. Poor marketing meant that although the video game wasn’t a commercial flop, it wasn’t a resounding financial success either. Date of manufacture: 1972
The HP-35 was the world's first scientific pocket calculator. Before it came along, slide rules and logarithm tables were required for trigonometric and exponential functions. Pocket calculators were only capable of the four basic arithmetic operations. The price for an HP-35 in 1972 was about DM 2,000. Date of manufacture: 1972
In 1970, the photocopier company Xerox founded a research centre in Palo Alto known as PARC. This is where the Xerox Alto was developed, a forerunner of much of the PC technology taken for granted today. The Alto had a graphical user interface and a mouse, and was the model on which first the Macintosh, then Windows were based. It was also fully network-capable: the Ethernet was another Xerox PARC invention. Many Alto system engineers later worked on the Apple Macintosh. Only around 1,000 examples of the Alto were built; it was a prototype and was never launched on the market. Date of manufacture: 1973
The January 1975 issue of the magazine Popular Electronics featured the forerunner of the first personal computer, the Altair 8800, which had been designed by Ed Roberts and his company MITS. It was available as a kit for 397 US dollars, making it the first computer that ordinary consumers could afford and marking the advent of widespread PC use. Incidentally, the Altair's name comes from a TV series. The twelve-year-old daughter of editor Les Solomon said: “Call it Altair. That's where the Enterprise is heading tonight.“ Date of manufacture: 1975
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple on 1 April 1976. Soon afterwards, they presented their first computer: the Apple I. A total of only 200 Apple I computers were made. Jobs and Wozniak built it in Jobs's parents' garage in Los Altos, California and sold it for $666. The Apple I was actually just a circuit board. Users had to make their own housing for it and add input and output devices themselves. There are still around 70 Apple I computers in existence worldwide. Date of manufacture: 1976
The Apple II was the first “personal“ desktop computer to achieve commercial success. In contrast to the Apple I, the main board was supplied in a plastic housing together with a keyboard, a monitor and software.  The Apple Writer word processor and VisiCalc spreadsheet software were key to its success. The Apple II marked the start of Apple's rise to become the world's most successful company. Date of manufacture: 1977
The computer centre from the Sachsenwerk in Dresden is part of a system that was only shut down in 1993. It played a role in GDR computer history and a part in the success story of a major computer system. The Einheitliches System Elektronischer Rechenanlagen (standardized system of electronic computers) is the functional replica of an IBM computer: ESER 1055 is compatible with the 370/155 in terms of hardware and software alike. These computer systems were built until well into the 1980s. Date of manufacture: about 1979
Whenever computers were mentioned in the 1960s and 1970s, IBM was the name on everyone's lips. Despite this, the manufacturing giant was so slow to react that it almost missed out on the personal computer revolution, eventually launching its own PC 5150 in August 1981. The device proved an immediate hit, becoming an office mainstay. After all, it was a product of THE computer company, a fact which engendered trust among businesses that had not had any faith in the models available on the market thus far. The IBM PC, which ran with Microsoft's DOS operating system, provided the industry standard that had been lacking for so long. Date of manufacture: 1984
When Adam Osborne founded his computer firm, he was already well-known on the burgeoning home-computer scene thanks to numerous books and articles he had published. Although others before him had toyed with the idea of building a portable computer, his model, the Osborne 1, was the first on the market. Compared with today’s laptops, the Osborne 1 was extremely heavy and unwieldy. Despite this drawback, it proved a big success and almost became a cult object. Unfortunately, Osborne’s company went bankrupt in 1983. Date of manufacture: 1983
Commodore presented the C64 in 1982. Two years after its launch, four million units had already been sold, breaking all previous records for computer sales. Ultimately, a total of over 20 million C64 computers were sold throughout the world. The C64 was sometimes referred to as the “breadbox“ or even the “neck rest“ due to its shape. Date of manufacture: 1982
Motorola launched the first commercial mobile phone in 1983: the Dynatac 8000X. This bulky forebear of today's mobile phones weighed almost 750 grams and cost around $400. Date of manufacture: 1983
Apple launched the Macintosh on 24 January 1984. The Mac broke with all the previously accepted notions about PCs. When Jef Raskin, the father of the Mac, proposed the project in 1979, his idea was to design a computer that was geared to people. The Mac enabled normal users to become acquainted with the graphical user interface featuring desktop, mouse and windows. All they had to do beforehand was to unpack it and plug it in. Although the Mac lost out to the IBM PCs in the office environment, it revolutionised the entire graphic design industry. Date of manufacture: 1984
The Cray-2 was the fastest computer in the world in 1985. It weighed 2.5 tonnes. It was supplied as a supercomputer with up to four processors, a peak performance of 2 GFLOPS, 2 GB of memory and a maximum clock speed of 4.1 ns. It is notable for its striking design. A total of 27 units were sold. Date of manufacture: 1985
The Nintendo Game Boy proved to be one of the most successful products in the company’s history. The hand-held video game device was launched on the market in a plain grey-and-white version in 1989. Its robust technology, ease of operation and low battery consumption all helped to make it the biggest-selling console of the time. Although the Game Boy was initially only available with the game Tetris, strangely enough this became part of its appeal: it wasn’t just for hard-core players, but for everyone. The Game Boy was manufactured until 2002 and 120 million devices were sold in all. Date of manufacture: about 1990
The Newton was Apple’s attempt to create a revolutionary new device. A feature of the PDA (Private Digital Assistant) was handwriting recognition software; the device also came with a stylus which was supposed to make entering text child’s play. The touch-sensitive screen would detect characters and words automatically as they were written. However, this feature never really worked properly at market launch, something which gave rise to less than glowing reviews in the press. The project was halted in 1998 when company founder Steve Jobs re-joined the company. Date of manufacture: 1993
Robot soccer represents a major challenge for researchers in the field of artificial intelligence. A proving ground for the state of science in this field, it is also a means of promoting university-level education. Since 1997, international RoboCup matches featuring research teams from all over the world have been held in various leagues. This model – a third-generation, Middle Size League robot – belongs to the Fraunhofer Institut. Each robot has its own sensors and can make decisions completely autonomously. The robots can, however, communicate wirelessly with one another and with a computer. Date of manufacture: 1999
The robot dog AIBO was perhaps the most technically sophisticated toy ever to be created by its Japanese manufacturer Sony: the battery-operated dog came with 18 electrically controlled joints, microphones, loudspeakers, emotion display, 64-bit processor and a balance system to enable it to stand up. Date of manufacture: 1999
Lauron stands for “LAUfROboter Neuronal gesteuert” (English: “Walking Robot, Neural Controlled”). The walking robot (the 3rd generation of which is on show) was developed in order to research statically stable walking in rough terrain. Its movements are biologically inspired, mimicking those of a stick insect. Each leg can respond semi-autonomously to impulses; the movements are coordinated at a higher level. Lauron is able to gather information about its environment and plan a path towards a given goal autonomously. While walking, the robot uses sensors to detect potential obstacles and then either walks over or around them. Date of manufacture: 1999
Using a camera, this 2nd-generation face robot scans the viewer’s facial expression, which is then recognised and interpreted by software based on a neural net. From a repertoire of pre-programmed responses, the robot’s mechanism is activated and a matching facial expression is generated. The mechanical and electronic parts of the Mark II were covered by a silicone skin to create a robot face that looks as human as possible. Fumio Hara, Science University of Tokyo, Japan, 2001
RoboThespian is a life-sized humanoid robot designed for human interaction in public environments. It can sing as well as tell jokes and recite text passages. Visitors can choose from a selection of programmed text sequences for the metallic creation to read out, accompanied by a range of gestures. Date of manufacture: 2011
The earliest documents written on clay tablets in cuneiform script were used for tax and accounting purposes. Records were kept of the bread rations paid to workers, for example. The precise history is not known. About 2350-2100 BC
Wilhelm Schickard wanted to “mechanise” the laborious and error-prone task of calculating astronomical tables. In 1623 he had two calculating machines built to his specifications in a mechanic’s workshop in Tübingen – one for himself, the other for Johannes Kepler. The practical benefits of his “calculating clock” appeared somewhat dubious at the time, as the system based on logarithmic tables was superior. Regrettably, both machines were destroyed in a fire at the workshop and the invention was forgotten. This reconstruction of the machine by Baron von Freytag Löringhoff was completed in 1957. Date of manufacture: 1957
In 1678, French watchmaker René Grillet presented the “Machine arithmétique” which was capable of carrying out all four basic arithmetic operations. Constructed largely out of paper, the invention used so-called Napier’s rods that had been around since 1617 for the calculation process. It is an excellent example of the early days of mechanical calculation and an ancestor of today’s pocket calculator. Date of manufacture: 1678
This calculating machine, invented by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, was built in the years from 1690 to 1720. It represents a historic milestone in the development of mechanical calculating machines because it was the first to perform all four arithmetic operations. Leibniz's operating mechanism, known as the stepped cylinder or Leibniz wheel, allowed multiplication to be performed mechanically and remained an indispensable component of mechanical calculators for over 200 years. Functioning replica of the only remaining original (at the Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek in Hanover), built to plans by N. Joachim Lehmann. HNF replica: 1995
The device popularly known as the “Chess Turk“ was built in 1769 by Austrian court official Wolfgang von Kempelen in such a way as to convince spectators that they were watching an “automated chess player“. In fact an individual of quite normal size sat inside and controlled the gripper arm with the aid of levers and cable winches. Magnetised chess pieces and small magnetic pins on the underside of the board enabled the moves to be followed by the person within. Functional HNF replica: 2004
An Arithmometer is a mechanical calculating machine invented by the Frenchman Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar (1785-1870). It was the world's first calculating machine to go into series production. As well as addition and subtraction, it could perform multiplication and division by means of repeated addition and subtraction. This luxury version of the calculating machine was a gift to the king of Portugal. Date of manufacture: about 1855
The Hansen Writing Ball was the world's first typewriter to be produced commercially, albeit in small batches. It was developed in 1865 by Rasmus Johann Malling-Hansen, a Danish pastor and teacher of deaf-mutes. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a well-known user. Date of manufacture: about 1878
The name Morse and the code of the same name became synonymous with telegraphy. His procedure for transmitting text information via a series of pulses (dots and dashes) and the silences between them helped the technology achieve a breakthrough. The most important components of the Ericsson Morse Telegraph Type TA 100 for receiving messages (“sounder”) are an electromagnet, an armature, a mechanical clockwork to move the paper tape, a coloured stylus and a roll of paper. A Morse key is required to transmit messages. Date of manufacture: about 1880
In 1883, Englishman Joseph Edmondson obtained a patent for a circular calculating machine based on the stepped-drum mechanism. His design was based on Thomas de Colmar’s simple “arithmomètre”. The advantage of Edmondson’s machine was that it was not limited to a certain number of decimal places if a division produced a remainder. Date of manufacture: about 1885
This machine is a replica of the first Hollerith machine that was used so successfully to complete the first census in the USA thanks to the use of punched cards. It provided a much faster way of counting the vast amount of data gathered. The Hollerith machine consists of two hinged plates, a switch panel with relays, a counting device with 40 counters and a sorting box. When one of the pins on the plates meets a hole in the punched card, a circuit is completed and an electric pulse causes the pointer of a counter to advance accordingly. The respective compartment of the sorting box is also opened, and the operator can place the analysed punched card into it by hand. Functional HNF replica: 2006
The comptometer was the first exclusively key-driven mechanical calculator. The “wooden box” was a precursor to the full-keyboard adding machines built between 1886 and 1904. According to its manufacturer’s promotional material, it was the world’s first adding machine with a practical application. Date of manufacture: about 1900
The Underwood No. 5, which appeared in 1900, was the first classic modern typewriter (with visible text, upper- and lower-case letters and tab stops). It set the standard for all subsequent typewriters worldwide until they were superseded first by IBM electric typewriters, which used a type ball instead of type bars, and then by PCs. Date of manufacture: 1915
This extremely compact table-top telephone with a quirky design was also known as the “Pferdefuss” or “horse’s hoof” in Bavaria due to its shape. It was the approved standard dialling apparatus only in Bavaria. Incidentally, the device was referred to as the “cow’s hoof” in Prussia. Date of manufacture: from 1925 onwards
In 1879 the Ritty brothers filed a patent application for the first cash register in the USA. Businessman John H. Patterson acquired the rights to manufacture cash registers in 1884 and founded the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio. The NCR 400 series models were among the standard cash registers in use at the time. They were favoured by retail outlets because of their robust nature. Model 422 has five rows of keys and features 42 keys in all. The indicators are in English and show sums of pounds and pence. Date of manufacture: 1910
The Kryha Liliput is a very rare cipher machine in pocket-watch format. The machine consisted of two concentric rings, each featuring an alphabet and numbers. The user would operate it by pushing a lever to step the inner ring a random number of places against the outer ring, thereby changing the relationship between the two. Although Kryha’s devices were a commercial success, they were cryptographically weak as the period lengths of the codes were generally quite short. The Kryha Liliput was cryptographically compatible with its “big sister”, the Kryha Standard. Date of manufacture: about 1926
The legendary Enigma cipher machine was developed in the early 1920s by the German engineer Artur Scherbius in Berlin and initially marketed for commercial purposes. The machine has three rotors, each of which performs an alphabetic substitution cipher. By combining the rotors in series and using a plugboard with variable wiring, very complex scrambling of the message can be achieved. Date of manufacture: about 1942
The T52 e was a World War II German cipher machine and teleprinter. Due to its size and weight, however, it was only ever used as a stationary device. Unlike the Enigma, messages were encrypted and deciphered automatically. On 20 July 1944, the resistance group led by Claus von Stauffenberg used the device to issue encrypted commands for Operation Valkyrie, the plot to assassinate Hitler. Date of manufacture: 1942
The first functioning electronic computer consisted of 40 panels with almost 18,000 vacuum tubes. J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly were commissioned to construct a vacuum-tube computer by the US Army in 1943. ENIAC, which was 1,000 times faster than other calculating machines, was developed by the young scientists at the Moore School of Electronics in Philadelphia. It required just eight hours to perform calculations that had previously taken an entire year. The high processing capacity was needed by the US Army to calculate artillery firing tables. Mauchly wanted to use ENIAC’s speed to produce more accurate weather forecasts, which is why its inventors built a “universal machine“. Date of manufacture: 1946
The history of IBM in Germany dates back to 1910, with the founding of DEHOMAG (Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH) in Berlin. The company was renamed IBM Deutschland GmbH in 1949, when it relocated to Böblingen. The D 11 tabulator, which was manufactured from 1935 onwards, was the first German machine of its kind. Used for punched card analysis, its ability to read, count, compute and print cards made it the mainstay of many so-called Hollerith departments. The machine proved a milestone in the development of punched card technology: It was on sale until 1960, latterly as the IBM D11 Type 450. Around 1,100 D 11 models were sold in all. Date of manufacture: between 1949 and 1960
In the early days of telephony, calls were connected manually by a switchboard operator . The next stage of development saw the introduction of automatic telephone exchanges which dispensed with the need for human intervention. A local telephone exchange establishes connections between the subscribers of a local network. In this case, an analogue electrical signal is switched via electromechanical components. If the first digit dialled by the subscriber is a zero, he or she is put through to the trunk or long-distance exchange. The electromechanical system exhibited here was in use in Hagen-Eilpe until 1994, when it was replaced by a digital switching system.
The W48 desktop telephone was developed for the Deutsche Bundespost by Siemens & Halske in 1948 in the western zone of occupied Germany and produced in very large quantities. Date of manufacture: 1954
This is the first computer developed by Heinz Nixdorf. He started work in July 1952 and it took him 15 months to complete. The electronic balancer is equipped with vacuum tubes. It is a one-off machine built especially for materials management at Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), where it supplemented the work of a Remington Rand tabulating machine, whose mechanical mode of operation was no match for the much faster Nixdorf electronics. Date of manufacture: 1953
The accounting machine Exacta-Continental 6000 was the ultimate in electromechanical office equipment: it could manage all accounting tasks with ease. It came with an optional Multitronic electronic multiplication unit manufactured by Heinz Nixdorf’s Labor für Impulstechnik, which signalled the beginning of a new data processing era from 1958 onwards. Date of manufacture: about 1958
The Zuse Z 11 was the first programmable relay computer from ZUSE KG to go into series production. It was used for mathematical calculations, its hard-wired programs having been designed for surveying tasks in particular. The last in a development series of electro-mechanically controlled computer systems, it contained relays as binary switching elements. These may have been slower than vacuum tubes, but were also more reliable, more durable and less expensive. Date of manufacture: 1958
The Curta is the only mechanical pocket calculator that is capable of performing all four basic arithmetic operations. The inventor of this precision-engineered masterpiece was an Austrian, Curt Herzstark (1902-1988). Date of manufacture: about 1965
The Anita was the first all-electronic, tube-based desktop calculator. Not only was it completely silent, but it operated much faster than mechanical machines, and was maintenance-free too. However, tubes were not an optimum technical solution for desktop calculators as they used a lot of electricity, were relatively susceptible to breakage and were expensive to produce. For this reason, this technology remained unique to the Anita. Mass production of such devices only became an option once transistors started to be used from around 1964 onwards. Date of manufacture: 1961
The linotype machine was a “line casting” machine used in printing. It replaced the extremely time-consuming manual type-setting process. The machine, which was patented in 1886, mechanised the setting and casting of letters. The setter entered text at a keyboard: every time a key was pressed, a matrix of the chosen letter fell into position from a magazine. The assembled line of matrices was cast as a single piece of type metal and filled with liquid lead once the spaces between words had been automatically adjusted. After cooling, this produced “A LINE OF TYPES”. Date of manufacture: 1962
At the start of the 1950s, VEB Optima Büromaschinenwerk Erfurt was asked to develop a typewriter for China as part of e socialist initiative to support allied nations. The Erfurt manufacturers based their design on the box-type typewriter first sold in 1917 by Nippon Typewriter Co. Ltd. in Tokyo. The “Chinese Optima” made its début in 1953. Subsequently, the Chinese bicycle factory “Flying Dove” took over production of the device, two versions of which were produced in China under the “Flying Dove” brand until the end of 1992. Date of manufacture: 1992
This computer originated from the Gemini II mission; it featured in an unmanned space flight on 19.01.1965. The Mercury and Gemini space programmes laid the groundwork for the moon landing. From 1963 onwards, the Gemini missions tested orbital coupling manoeuvres necessary to achieve rendezvous and docking. Safe, accurate manoeuvring was only possible with the aid of a computer. IBM’s commission to develop the on-board computer was worth $26.6 million. It was the first computer to have a magnetic core memory so that data was not destroyed when read out. It was also IBM’s first computer to be fully transistorised. The computer proved reliable in operation. Date of manufacture: about 1964
In 1965, the Digital Equipment Corporation presented the PDP-8, thereby marking the beginning of the mini-computer era. Priced at just 18,200 Dollars, this general-purpose computer was robust enough to be used in both production and laboratory environments. Some 10,000 of them were sold within the space of 10 years; by 1975, the PDP-8 cost just 2,600 Dollars. A whole variety of manufacturers tapped into the new market, building computers based on the PDP-8 for use in process and manufacturing technology and for controlling experiments in research. By 1975, more than 30 companies in the West German market alone were selling mini-computers. Date of manufacture: 1965
In 1964, Nixdorf developed the electronics for a desk-top calculator produced by office equipment manufacturer Wanderer, later building the components itself under licence. The “Wanderer Conti” was presented to the public for the first time in 1965 at the Hanover Trade Fair. It was the world’s first fully electronic desk-top calculator with printing output. In terms of design, the four-species calculator was a bona fide computer, boasting an arithmetic unit, a magnetic core memory, a printer and a threaded read-only memory (ROM). The Conti enabled Nixdorf to gain a foothold in the US market when the Chicago-based Victor Comptometer Corporation placed an order worth DM 100 million for the machine in 1968. Date of manufacture: 1966
The Olivetti Valentine is a mechanical typewriter that stands out largely by virtue of its unconventional appearance. It is regarded as a milestone in industrial design and is a sought-after collector’s item. Date of manufacture: early 1970s
The great success enjoyed by Nixdorf at the end of the 1960s and start of the 1970s was based largely on the computers of the 820 series. These were universal computers for companies of all sizes and could be used for almost any application area thanks to their modular construction and consistent application of the modular design system. Date of manufacture: 1974
Canon Canola Pocketronic, Sanyo ICC-82D, Sharp EL-8: The first battery-operated electronic pocket calculators were brought out virtually simultaneously in 1970 by Japanese firms Sanyo, Sharp and Canon. However, the "heart" of these first pocket calculators – the microchip – was produced by US companies such as Texas Instruments and Rockwell. Texas Instruments had developed the first portable prototype as early as 1967. But the Cal-Tech, as it was known, was merely supposed to demonstrate the power of the new chip and never went into series production. The huge sales potential of the pocket calculator had yet to be recognised, especially since it was still too expensive to produce. It was for this reason that Texas Instruments sold the technical design of the Cal-Tech to Canon, and only brought out its own pocket calculator in 1972. Date of manufacture: 1970
The Odyssey console laid the foundations for the video game era. In 1966 Ralph Baer, a US engineer of German descent, filed a patent for a kind of ping-pong game. This was ultimately granted in 1968. It was not until 1972 that the game was distributed with a gaming console by Magnavox. Poor marketing meant that although the video game wasn’t a commercial flop, it wasn’t a resounding financial success either. Date of manufacture: 1972
The HP-35 was the world's first scientific pocket calculator. Before it came along, slide rules and logarithm tables were required for trigonometric and exponential functions. Pocket calculators were only capable of the four basic arithmetic operations. The price for an HP-35 in 1972 was about DM 2,000. Date of manufacture: 1972
In 1970, the photocopier company Xerox founded a research centre in Palo Alto known as PARC. This is where the Xerox Alto was developed, a forerunner of much of the PC technology taken for granted today. The Alto had a graphical user interface and a mouse, and was the model on which first the Macintosh, then Windows were based. It was also fully network-capable: the Ethernet was another Xerox PARC invention. Many Alto system engineers later worked on the Apple Macintosh. Only around 1,000 examples of the Alto were built; it was a prototype and was never launched on the market. Date of manufacture: 1973
The January 1975 issue of the magazine Popular Electronics featured the forerunner of the first personal computer, the Altair 8800, which had been designed by Ed Roberts and his company MITS. It was available as a kit for 397 US dollars, making it the first computer that ordinary consumers could afford and marking the advent of widespread PC use. Incidentally, the Altair's name comes from a TV series. The twelve-year-old daughter of editor Les Solomon said: “Call it Altair. That's where the Enterprise is heading tonight.“ Date of manufacture: 1975
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple on 1 April 1976. Soon afterwards, they presented their first computer: the Apple I. A total of only 200 Apple I computers were made. Jobs and Wozniak built it in Jobs's parents' garage in Los Altos, California and sold it for $666. The Apple I was actually just a circuit board. Users had to make their own housing for it and add input and output devices themselves. There are still around 70 Apple I computers in existence worldwide. Date of manufacture: 1976
The Apple II was the first “personal“ desktop computer to achieve commercial success. In contrast to the Apple I, the main board was supplied in a plastic housing together with a keyboard, a monitor and software.  The Apple Writer word processor and VisiCalc spreadsheet software were key to its success. The Apple II marked the start of Apple's rise to become the world's most successful company. Date of manufacture: 1977
The computer centre from the Sachsenwerk in Dresden is part of a system that was only shut down in 1993. It played a role in GDR computer history and a part in the success story of a major computer system. The Einheitliches System Elektronischer Rechenanlagen (standardized system of electronic computers) is the functional replica of an IBM computer: ESER 1055 is compatible with the 370/155 in terms of hardware and software alike. These computer systems were built until well into the 1980s. Date of manufacture: about 1979
Whenever computers were mentioned in the 1960s and 1970s, IBM was the name on everyone's lips. Despite this, the manufacturing giant was so slow to react that it almost missed out on the personal computer revolution, eventually launching its own PC 5150 in August 1981. The device proved an immediate hit, becoming an office mainstay. After all, it was a product of THE computer company, a fact which engendered trust among businesses that had not had any faith in the models available on the market thus far. The IBM PC, which ran with Microsoft's DOS operating system, provided the industry standard that had been lacking for so long. Date of manufacture: 1984
When Adam Osborne founded his computer firm, he was already well-known on the burgeoning home-computer scene thanks to numerous books and articles he had published. Although others before him had toyed with the idea of building a portable computer, his model, the Osborne 1, was the first on the market. Compared with today’s laptops, the Osborne 1 was extremely heavy and unwieldy. Despite this drawback, it proved a big success and almost became a cult object. Unfortunately, Osborne’s company went bankrupt in 1983. Date of manufacture: 1983
Commodore presented the C64 in 1982. Two years after its launch, four million units had already been sold, breaking all previous records for computer sales. Ultimately, a total of over 20 million C64 computers were sold throughout the world. The C64 was sometimes referred to as the “breadbox“ or even the “neck rest“ due to its shape. Date of manufacture: 1982
Motorola launched the first commercial mobile phone in 1983: the Dynatac 8000X. This bulky forebear of today's mobile phones weighed almost 750 grams and cost around $400. Date of manufacture: 1983
Apple launched the Macintosh on 24 January 1984. The Mac broke with all the previously accepted notions about PCs. When Jef Raskin, the father of the Mac, proposed the project in 1979, his idea was to design a computer that was geared to people. The Mac enabled normal users to become acquainted with the graphical user interface featuring desktop, mouse and windows. All they had to do beforehand was to unpack it and plug it in. Although the Mac lost out to the IBM PCs in the office environment, it revolutionised the entire graphic design industry. Date of manufacture: 1984
The Cray-2 was the fastest computer in the world in 1985. It weighed 2.5 tonnes. It was supplied as a supercomputer with up to four processors, a peak performance of 2 GFLOPS, 2 GB of memory and a maximum clock speed of 4.1 ns. It is notable for its striking design. A total of 27 units were sold. Date of manufacture: 1985
The Nintendo Game Boy proved to be one of the most successful products in the company’s history. The hand-held video game device was launched on the market in a plain grey-and-white version in 1989. Its robust technology, ease of operation and low battery consumption all helped to make it the biggest-selling console of the time. Although the Game Boy was initially only available with the game Tetris, strangely enough this became part of its appeal: it wasn’t just for hard-core players, but for everyone. The Game Boy was manufactured until 2002 and 120 million devices were sold in all. Date of manufacture: about 1990
The Newton was Apple’s attempt to create a revolutionary new device. A feature of the PDA (Private Digital Assistant) was handwriting recognition software; the device also came with a stylus which was supposed to make entering text child’s play. The touch-sensitive screen would detect characters and words automatically as they were written. However, this feature never really worked properly at market launch, something which gave rise to less than glowing reviews in the press. The project was halted in 1998 when company founder Steve Jobs re-joined the company. Date of manufacture: 1993
Robot soccer represents a major challenge for researchers in the field of artificial intelligence. A proving ground for the state of science in this field, it is also a means of promoting university-level education. Since 1997, international RoboCup matches featuring research teams from all over the world have been held in various leagues. This model – a third-generation, Middle Size League robot – belongs to the Fraunhofer Institut. Each robot has its own sensors and can make decisions completely autonomously. The robots can, however, communicate wirelessly with one another and with a computer. Date of manufacture: 1999
The robot dog AIBO was perhaps the most technically sophisticated toy ever to be created by its Japanese manufacturer Sony: the battery-operated dog came with 18 electrically controlled joints, microphones, loudspeakers, emotion display, 64-bit processor and a balance system to enable it to stand up. Date of manufacture: 1999
Lauron stands for “LAUfROboter Neuronal gesteuert” (English: “Walking Robot, Neural Controlled”). The walking robot (the 3rd generation of which is on show) was developed in order to research statically stable walking in rough terrain. Its movements are biologically inspired, mimicking those of a stick insect. Each leg can respond semi-autonomously to impulses; the movements are coordinated at a higher level. Lauron is able to gather information about its environment and plan a path towards a given goal autonomously. While walking, the robot uses sensors to detect potential obstacles and then either walks over or around them. Date of manufacture: 1999
Using a camera, this 2nd-generation face robot scans the viewer’s facial expression, which is then recognised and interpreted by software based on a neural net. From a repertoire of pre-programmed responses, the robot’s mechanism is activated and a matching facial expression is generated. The mechanical and electronic parts of the Mark II were covered by a silicone skin to create a robot face that looks as human as possible. Fumio Hara, Science University of Tokyo, Japan, 2001
RoboThespian is a life-sized humanoid robot designed for human interaction in public environments. It can sing as well as tell jokes and recite text passages. Visitors can choose from a selection of programmed text sequences for the metallic creation to read out, accompanied by a range of gestures. Date of manufacture: 2011
The earliest documents written on clay tablets in cuneiform script were used for tax and accounting purposes. Records were kept of the bread rations paid to workers, for example. The precise history is not known. About 2350-2100 BC
Wilhelm Schickard wanted to “mechanise” the laborious and error-prone task of calculating astronomical tables. In 1623 he had two calculating machines built to his specifications in a mechanic’s workshop in Tübingen – one for himself, the other for Johannes Kepler. The practical benefits of his “calculating clock” appeared somewhat dubious at the time, as the system based on logarithmic tables was superior. Regrettably, both machines were destroyed in a fire at the workshop and the invention was forgotten. This reconstruction of the machine by Baron von Freytag Löringhoff was completed in 1957. Date of manufacture: 1957
In 1678, French watchmaker René Grillet presented the “Machine arithmétique” which was capable of carrying out all four basic arithmetic operations. Constructed largely out of paper, the invention used so-called Napier’s rods that had been around since 1617 for the calculation process. It is an excellent example of the early days of mechanical calculation and an ancestor of today’s pocket calculator. Date of manufacture: 1678
This calculating machine, invented by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, was built in the years from 1690 to 1720. It represents a historic milestone in the development of mechanical calculating machines because it was the first to perform all four arithmetic operations. Leibniz's operating mechanism, known as the stepped cylinder or Leibniz wheel, allowed multiplication to be performed mechanically and remained an indispensable component of mechanical calculators for over 200 years. Functioning replica of the only remaining original (at the Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek in Hanover), built to plans by N. Joachim Lehmann. HNF replica: 1995
The device popularly known as the “Chess Turk“ was built in 1769 by Austrian court official Wolfgang von Kempelen in such a way as to convince spectators that they were watching an “automated chess player“. In fact an individual of quite normal size sat inside and controlled the gripper arm with the aid of levers and cable winches. Magnetised chess pieces and small magnetic pins on the underside of the board enabled the moves to be followed by the person within. Functional HNF replica: 2004
An Arithmometer is a mechanical calculating machine invented by the Frenchman Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar (1785-1870). It was the world's first calculating machine to go into series production. As well as addition and subtraction, it could perform multiplication and division by means of repeated addition and subtraction. This luxury version of the calculating machine was a gift to the king of Portugal. Date of manufacture: about 1855
The Hansen Writing Ball was the world's first typewriter to be produced commercially, albeit in small batches. It was developed in 1865 by Rasmus Johann Malling-Hansen, a Danish pastor and teacher of deaf-mutes. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a well-known user. Date of manufacture: about 1878
The name Morse and the code of the same name became synonymous with telegraphy. His procedure for transmitting text information via a series of pulses (dots and dashes) and the silences between them helped the technology achieve a breakthrough. The most important components of the Ericsson Morse Telegraph Type TA 100 for receiving messages (“sounder”) are an electromagnet, an armature, a mechanical clockwork to move the paper tape, a coloured stylus and a roll of paper. A Morse key is required to transmit messages. Date of manufacture: about 1880
In 1883, Englishman Joseph Edmondson obtained a patent for a circular calculating machine based on the stepped-drum mechanism. His design was based on Thomas de Colmar’s simple “arithmomètre”. The advantage of Edmondson’s machine was that it was not limited to a certain number of decimal places if a division produced a remainder. Date of manufacture: about 1885
This machine is a replica of the first Hollerith machine that was used so successfully to complete the first census in the USA thanks to the use of punched cards. It provided a much faster way of counting the vast amount of data gathered. The Hollerith machine consists of two hinged plates, a switch panel with relays, a counting device with 40 counters and a sorting box. When one of the pins on the plates meets a hole in the punched card, a circuit is completed and an electric pulse causes the pointer of a counter to advance accordingly. The respective compartment of the sorting box is also opened, and the operator can place the analysed punched card into it by hand. Functional HNF replica: 2006
The comptometer was the first exclusively key-driven mechanical calculator. The “wooden box” was a precursor to the full-keyboard adding machines built between 1886 and 1904. According to its manufacturer’s promotional material, it was the world’s first adding machine with a practical application. Date of manufacture: about 1900
The Underwood No. 5, which appeared in 1900, was the first classic modern typewriter (with visible text, upper- and lower-case letters and tab stops). It set the standard for all subsequent typewriters worldwide until they were superseded first by IBM electric typewriters, which used a type ball instead of type bars, and then by PCs. Date of manufacture: 1915
This extremely compact table-top telephone with a quirky design was also known as the “Pferdefuss” or “horse’s hoof” in Bavaria due to its shape. It was the approved standard dialling apparatus only in Bavaria. Incidentally, the device was referred to as the “cow’s hoof” in Prussia. Date of manufacture: from 1925 onwards
In 1879 the Ritty brothers filed a patent application for the first cash register in the USA. Businessman John H. Patterson acquired the rights to manufacture cash registers in 1884 and founded the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio. The NCR 400 series models were among the standard cash registers in use at the time. They were favoured by retail outlets because of their robust nature. Model 422 has five rows of keys and features 42 keys in all. The indicators are in English and show sums of pounds and pence. Date of manufacture: 1910
The Kryha Liliput is a very rare cipher machine in pocket-watch format. The machine consisted of two concentric rings, each featuring an alphabet and numbers. The user would operate it by pushing a lever to step the inner ring a random number of places against the outer ring, thereby changing the relationship between the two. Although Kryha’s devices were a commercial success, they were cryptographically weak as the period lengths of the codes were generally quite short. The Kryha Liliput was cryptographically compatible with its “big sister”, the Kryha Standard. Date of manufacture: about 1926
The legendary Enigma cipher machine was developed in the early 1920s by the German engineer Artur Scherbius in Berlin and initially marketed for commercial purposes. The machine has three rotors, each of which performs an alphabetic substitution cipher. By combining the rotors in series and using a plugboard with variable wiring, very complex scrambling of the message can be achieved. Date of manufacture: about 1942
The T52 e was a World War II German cipher machine and teleprinter. Due to its size and weight, however, it was only ever used as a stationary device. Unlike the Enigma, messages were encrypted and deciphered automatically. On 20 July 1944, the resistance group led by Claus von Stauffenberg used the device to issue encrypted commands for Operation Valkyrie, the plot to assassinate Hitler. Date of manufacture: 1942
The first functioning electronic computer consisted of 40 panels with almost 18,000 vacuum tubes. J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly were commissioned to construct a vacuum-tube computer by the US Army in 1943. ENIAC, which was 1,000 times faster than other calculating machines, was developed by the young scientists at the Moore School of Electronics in Philadelphia. It required just eight hours to perform calculations that had previously taken an entire year. The high processing capacity was needed by the US Army to calculate artillery firing tables. Mauchly wanted to use ENIAC’s speed to produce more accurate weather forecasts, which is why its inventors built a “universal machine“. Date of manufacture: 1946
The history of IBM in Germany dates back to 1910, with the founding of DEHOMAG (Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH) in Berlin. The company was renamed IBM Deutschland GmbH in 1949, when it relocated to Böblingen. The D 11 tabulator, which was manufactured from 1935 onwards, was the first German machine of its kind. Used for punched card analysis, its ability to read, count, compute and print cards made it the mainstay of many so-called Hollerith departments. The machine proved a milestone in the development of punched card technology: It was on sale until 1960, latterly as the IBM D11 Type 450. Around 1,100 D 11 models were sold in all. Date of manufacture: between 1949 and 1960
In the early days of telephony, calls were connected manually by a switchboard operator . The next stage of development saw the introduction of automatic telephone exchanges which dispensed with the need for human intervention. A local telephone exchange establishes connections between the subscribers of a local network. In this case, an analogue electrical signal is switched via electromechanical components. If the first digit dialled by the subscriber is a zero, he or she is put through to the trunk or long-distance exchange. The electromechanical system exhibited here was in use in Hagen-Eilpe until 1994, when it was replaced by a digital switching system.
The W48 desktop telephone was developed for the Deutsche Bundespost by Siemens & Halske in 1948 in the western zone of occupied Germany and produced in very large quantities. Date of manufacture: 1954
This is the first computer developed by Heinz Nixdorf. He started work in July 1952 and it took him 15 months to complete. The electronic balancer is equipped with vacuum tubes. It is a one-off machine built especially for materials management at Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), where it supplemented the work of a Remington Rand tabulating machine, whose mechanical mode of operation was no match for the much faster Nixdorf electronics. Date of manufacture: 1953
The accounting machine Exacta-Continental 6000 was the ultimate in electromechanical office equipment: it could manage all accounting tasks with ease. It came with an optional Multitronic electronic multiplication unit manufactured by Heinz Nixdorf’s Labor für Impulstechnik, which signalled the beginning of a new data processing era from 1958 onwards. Date of manufacture: about 1958
The Zuse Z 11 was the first programmable relay computer from ZUSE KG to go into series production. It was used for mathematical calculations, its hard-wired programs having been designed for surveying tasks in particular. The last in a development series of electro-mechanically controlled computer systems, it contained relays as binary switching elements. These may have been slower than vacuum tubes, but were also more reliable, more durable and less expensive. Date of manufacture: 1958
The Curta is the only mechanical pocket calculator that is capable of performing all four basic arithmetic operations. The inventor of this precision-engineered masterpiece was an Austrian, Curt Herzstark (1902-1988). Date of manufacture: about 1965
The Anita was the first all-electronic, tube-based desktop calculator. Not only was it completely silent, but it operated much faster than mechanical machines, and was maintenance-free too. However, tubes were not an optimum technical solution for desktop calculators as they used a lot of electricity, were relatively susceptible to breakage and were expensive to produce. For this reason, this technology remained unique to the Anita. Mass production of such devices only became an option once transistors started to be used from around 1964 onwards. Date of manufacture: 1961
The linotype machine was a “line casting” machine used in printing. It replaced the extremely time-consuming manual type-setting process. The machine, which was patented in 1886, mechanised the setting and casting of letters. The setter entered text at a keyboard: every time a key was pressed, a matrix of the chosen letter fell into position from a magazine. The assembled line of matrices was cast as a single piece of type metal and filled with liquid lead once the spaces between words had been automatically adjusted. After cooling, this produced “A LINE OF TYPES”. Date of manufacture: 1962
At the start of the 1950s, VEB Optima Büromaschinenwerk Erfurt was asked to develop a typewriter for China as part of e socialist initiative to support allied nations. The Erfurt manufacturers based their design on the box-type typewriter first sold in 1917 by Nippon Typewriter Co. Ltd. in Tokyo. The “Chinese Optima” made its début in 1953. Subsequently, the Chinese bicycle factory “Flying Dove” took over production of the device, two versions of which were produced in China under the “Flying Dove” brand until the end of 1992. Date of manufacture: 1992
This computer originated from the Gemini II mission; it featured in an unmanned space flight on 19.01.1965. The Mercury and Gemini space programmes laid the groundwork for the moon landing. From 1963 onwards, the Gemini missions tested orbital coupling manoeuvres necessary to achieve rendezvous and docking. Safe, accurate manoeuvring was only possible with the aid of a computer. IBM’s commission to develop the on-board computer was worth $26.6 million. It was the first computer to have a magnetic core memory so that data was not destroyed when read out. It was also IBM’s first computer to be fully transistorised. The computer proved reliable in operation. Date of manufacture: about 1964
In 1965, the Digital Equipment Corporation presented the PDP-8, thereby marking the beginning of the mini-computer era. Priced at just 18,200 Dollars, this general-purpose computer was robust enough to be used in both production and laboratory environments. Some 10,000 of them were sold within the space of 10 years; by 1975, the PDP-8 cost just 2,600 Dollars. A whole variety of manufacturers tapped into the new market, building computers based on the PDP-8 for use in process and manufacturing technology and for controlling experiments in research. By 1975, more than 30 companies in the West German market alone were selling mini-computers. Date of manufacture: 1965
In 1964, Nixdorf developed the electronics for a desk-top calculator produced by office equipment manufacturer Wanderer, later building the components itself under licence. The “Wanderer Conti” was presented to the public for the first time in 1965 at the Hanover Trade Fair. It was the world’s first fully electronic desk-top calculator with printing output. In terms of design, the four-species calculator was a bona fide computer, boasting an arithmetic unit, a magnetic core memory, a printer and a threaded read-only memory (ROM). The Conti enabled Nixdorf to gain a foothold in the US market when the Chicago-based Victor Comptometer Corporation placed an order worth DM 100 million for the machine in 1968. Date of manufacture: 1966
The Olivetti Valentine is a mechanical typewriter that stands out largely by virtue of its unconventional appearance. It is regarded as a milestone in industrial design and is a sought-after collector’s item. Date of manufacture: early 1970s
The great success enjoyed by Nixdorf at the end of the 1960s and start of the 1970s was based largely on the computers of the 820 series. These were universal computers for companies of all sizes and could be used for almost any application area thanks to their modular construction and consistent application of the modular design system. Date of manufacture: 1974
Canon Canola Pocketronic, Sanyo ICC-82D, Sharp EL-8: The first battery-operated electronic pocket calculators were brought out virtually simultaneously in 1970 by Japanese firms Sanyo, Sharp and Canon. However, the "heart" of these first pocket calculators – the microchip – was produced by US companies such as Texas Instruments and Rockwell. Texas Instruments had developed the first portable prototype as early as 1967. But the Cal-Tech, as it was known, was merely supposed to demonstrate the power of the new chip and never went into series production. The huge sales potential of the pocket calculator had yet to be recognised, especially since it was still too expensive to produce. It was for this reason that Texas Instruments sold the technical design of the Cal-Tech to Canon, and only brought out its own pocket calculator in 1972. Date of manufacture: 1970
The Odyssey console laid the foundations for the video game era. In 1966 Ralph Baer, a US engineer of German descent, filed a patent for a kind of ping-pong game. This was ultimately granted in 1968. It was not until 1972 that the game was distributed with a gaming console by Magnavox. Poor marketing meant that although the video game wasn’t a commercial flop, it wasn’t a resounding financial success either. Date of manufacture: 1972
The HP-35 was the world's first scientific pocket calculator. Before it came along, slide rules and logarithm tables were required for trigonometric and exponential functions. Pocket calculators were only capable of the four basic arithmetic operations. The price for an HP-35 in 1972 was about DM 2,000. Date of manufacture: 1972
In 1970, the photocopier company Xerox founded a research centre in Palo Alto known as PARC. This is where the Xerox Alto was developed, a forerunner of much of the PC technology taken for granted today. The Alto had a graphical user interface and a mouse, and was the model on which first the Macintosh, then Windows were based. It was also fully network-capable: the Ethernet was another Xerox PARC invention. Many Alto system engineers later worked on the Apple Macintosh. Only around 1,000 examples of the Alto were built; it was a prototype and was never launched on the market. Date of manufacture: 1973
The January 1975 issue of the magazine Popular Electronics featured the forerunner of the first personal computer, the Altair 8800, which had been designed by Ed Roberts and his company MITS. It was available as a kit for 397 US dollars, making it the first computer that ordinary consumers could afford and marking the advent of widespread PC use. Incidentally, the Altair's name comes from a TV series. The twelve-year-old daughter of editor Les Solomon said: “Call it Altair. That's where the Enterprise is heading tonight.“ Date of manufacture: 1975
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple on 1 April 1976. Soon afterwards, they presented their first computer: the Apple I. A total of only 200 Apple I computers were made. Jobs and Wozniak built it in Jobs's parents' garage in Los Altos, California and sold it for $666. The Apple I was actually just a circuit board. Users had to make their own housing for it and add input and output devices themselves. There are still around 70 Apple I computers in existence worldwide. Date of manufacture: 1976
The Apple II was the first “personal“ desktop computer to achieve commercial success. In contrast to the Apple I, the main board was supplied in a plastic housing together with a keyboard, a monitor and software.  The Apple Writer word processor and VisiCalc spreadsheet software were key to its success. The Apple II marked the start of Apple's rise to become the world's most successful company. Date of manufacture: 1977
The computer centre from the Sachsenwerk in Dresden is part of a system that was only shut down in 1993. It played a role in GDR computer history and a part in the success story of a major computer system. The Einheitliches System Elektronischer Rechenanlagen (standardized system of electronic computers) is the functional replica of an IBM computer: ESER 1055 is compatible with the 370/155 in terms of hardware and software alike. These computer systems were built until well into the 1980s. Date of manufacture: about 1979
Whenever computers were mentioned in the 1960s and 1970s, IBM was the name on everyone's lips. Despite this, the manufacturing giant was so slow to react that it almost missed out on the personal computer revolution, eventually launching its own PC 5150 in August 1981. The device proved an immediate hit, becoming an office mainstay. After all, it was a product of THE computer company, a fact which engendered trust among businesses that had not had any faith in the models available on the market thus far. The IBM PC, which ran with Microsoft's DOS operating system, provided the industry standard that had been lacking for so long. Date of manufacture: 1984
When Adam Osborne founded his computer firm, he was already well-known on the burgeoning home-computer scene thanks to numerous books and articles he had published. Although others before him had toyed with the idea of building a portable computer, his model, the Osborne 1, was the first on the market. Compared with today’s laptops, the Osborne 1 was extremely heavy and unwieldy. Despite this drawback, it proved a big success and almost became a cult object. Unfortunately, Osborne’s company went bankrupt in 1983. Date of manufacture: 1983
Commodore presented the C64 in 1982. Two years after its launch, four million units had already been sold, breaking all previous records for computer sales. Ultimately, a total of over 20 million C64 computers were sold throughout the world. The C64 was sometimes referred to as the “breadbox“ or even the “neck rest“ due to its shape. Date of manufacture: 1982
Motorola launched the first commercial mobile phone in 1983: the Dynatac 8000X. This bulky forebear of today's mobile phones weighed almost 750 grams and cost around $400. Date of manufacture: 1983
Apple launched the Macintosh on 24 January 1984. The Mac broke with all the previously accepted notions about PCs. When Jef Raskin, the father of the Mac, proposed the project in 1979, his idea was to design a computer that was geared to people. The Mac enabled normal users to become acquainted with the graphical user interface featuring desktop, mouse and windows. All they had to do beforehand was to unpack it and plug it in. Although the Mac lost out to the IBM PCs in the office environment, it revolutionised the entire graphic design industry. Date of manufacture: 1984
The Cray-2 was the fastest computer in the world in 1985. It weighed 2.5 tonnes. It was supplied as a supercomputer with up to four processors, a peak performance of 2 GFLOPS, 2 GB of memory and a maximum clock speed of 4.1 ns. It is notable for its striking design. A total of 27 units were sold. Date of manufacture: 1985
The Nintendo Game Boy proved to be one of the most successful products in the company’s history. The hand-held video game device was launched on the market in a plain grey-and-white version in 1989. Its robust technology, ease of operation and low battery consumption all helped to make it the biggest-selling console of the time. Although the Game Boy was initially only available with the game Tetris, strangely enough this became part of its appeal: it wasn’t just for hard-core players, but for everyone. The Game Boy was manufactured until 2002 and 120 million devices were sold in all. Date of manufacture: about 1990
The Newton was Apple’s attempt to create a revolutionary new device. A feature of the PDA (Private Digital Assistant) was handwriting recognition software; the device also came with a stylus which was supposed to make entering text child’s play. The touch-sensitive screen would detect characters and words automatically as they were written. However, this feature never really worked properly at market launch, something which gave rise to less than glowing reviews in the press. The project was halted in 1998 when company founder Steve Jobs re-joined the company. Date of manufacture: 1993
Robot soccer represents a major challenge for researchers in the field of artificial intelligence. A proving ground for the state of science in this field, it is also a means of promoting university-level education. Since 1997, international RoboCup matches featuring research teams from all over the world have been held in various leagues. This model – a third-generation, Middle Size League robot – belongs to the Fraunhofer Institut. Each robot has its own sensors and can make decisions completely autonomously. The robots can, however, communicate wirelessly with one another and with a computer. Date of manufacture: 1999
The robot dog AIBO was perhaps the most technically sophisticated toy ever to be created by its Japanese manufacturer Sony: the battery-operated dog came with 18 electrically controlled joints, microphones, loudspeakers, emotion display, 64-bit processor and a balance system to enable it to stand up. Date of manufacture: 1999
Lauron stands for “LAUfROboter Neuronal gesteuert” (English: “Walking Robot, Neural Controlled”). The walking robot (the 3rd generation of which is on show) was developed in order to research statically stable walking in rough terrain. Its movements are biologically inspired, mimicking those of a stick insect. Each leg can respond semi-autonomously to impulses; the movements are coordinated at a higher level. Lauron is able to gather information about its environment and plan a path towards a given goal autonomously. While walking, the robot uses sensors to detect potential obstacles and then either walks over or around them. Date of manufacture: 1999
Using a camera, this 2nd-generation face robot scans the viewer’s facial expression, which is then recognised and interpreted by software based on a neural net. From a repertoire of pre-programmed responses, the robot’s mechanism is activated and a matching facial expression is generated. The mechanical and electronic parts of the Mark II were covered by a silicone skin to create a robot face that looks as human as possible. Fumio Hara, Science University of Tokyo, Japan, 2001
RoboThespian is a life-sized humanoid robot designed for human interaction in public environments. It can sing as well as tell jokes and recite text passages. Visitors can choose from a selection of programmed text sequences for the metallic creation to read out, accompanied by a range of gestures. Date of manufacture: 2011
The earliest documents written on clay tablets in cuneiform script were used for tax and accounting purposes. Records were kept of the bread rations paid to workers, for example. The precise history is not known. About 2350-2100 BC
Wilhelm Schickard wanted to “mechanise” the laborious and error-prone task of calculating astronomical tables. In 1623 he had two calculating machines built to his specifications in a mechanic’s workshop in Tübingen – one for himself, the other for Johannes Kepler. The practical benefits of his “calculating clock” appeared somewhat dubious at the time, as the system based on logarithmic tables was superior. Regrettably, both machines were destroyed in a fire at the workshop and the invention was forgotten. This reconstruction of the machine by Baron von Freytag Löringhoff was completed in 1957. Date of manufacture: 1957
In 1678, French watchmaker René Grillet presented the “Machine arithmétique” which was capable of carrying out all four basic arithmetic operations. Constructed largely out of paper, the invention used so-called Napier’s rods that had been around since 1617 for the calculation process. It is an excellent example of the early days of mechanical calculation and an ancestor of today’s pocket calculator. Date of manufacture: 1678
This calculating machine, invented by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, was built in the years from 1690 to 1720. It represents a historic milestone in the development of mechanical calculating machines because it was the first to perform all four arithmetic operations. Leibniz's operating mechanism, known as the stepped cylinder or Leibniz wheel, allowed multiplication to be performed mechanically and remained an indispensable component of mechanical calculators for over 200 years. Functioning replica of the only remaining original (at the Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek in Hanover), built to plans by N. Joachim Lehmann. HNF replica: 1995
The device popularly known as the “Chess Turk“ was built in 1769 by Austrian court official Wolfgang von Kempelen in such a way as to convince spectators that they were watching an “automated chess player“. In fact an individual of quite normal size sat inside and controlled the gripper arm with the aid of levers and cable winches. Magnetised chess pieces and small magnetic pins on the underside of the board enabled the moves to be followed by the person within. Functional HNF replica: 2004
An Arithmometer is a mechanical calculating machine invented by the Frenchman Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar (1785-1870). It was the world's first calculating machine to go into series production. As well as addition and subtraction, it could perform multiplication and division by means of repeated addition and subtraction. This luxury version of the calculating machine was a gift to the king of Portugal. Date of manufacture: about 1855
The Hansen Writing Ball was the world's first typewriter to be produced commercially, albeit in small batches. It was developed in 1865 by Rasmus Johann Malling-Hansen, a Danish pastor and teacher of deaf-mutes. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a well-known user. Date of manufacture: about 1878
The name Morse and the code of the same name became synonymous with telegraphy. His procedure for transmitting text information via a series of pulses (dots and dashes) and the silences between them helped the technology achieve a breakthrough. The most important components of the Ericsson Morse Telegraph Type TA 100 for receiving messages (“sounder”) are an electromagnet, an armature, a mechanical clockwork to move the paper tape, a coloured stylus and a roll of paper. A Morse key is required to transmit messages. Date of manufacture: about 1880
In 1883, Englishman Joseph Edmondson obtained a patent for a circular calculating machine based on the stepped-drum mechanism. His design was based on Thomas de Colmar’s simple “arithmomètre”. The advantage of Edmondson’s machine was that it was not limited to a certain number of decimal places if a division produced a remainder. Date of manufacture: about 1885
This machine is a replica of the first Hollerith machine that was used so successfully to complete the first census in the USA thanks to the use of punched cards. It provided a much faster way of counting the vast amount of data gathered. The Hollerith machine consists of two hinged plates, a switch panel with relays, a counting device with 40 counters and a sorting box. When one of the pins on the plates meets a hole in the punched card, a circuit is completed and an electric pulse causes the pointer of a counter to advance accordingly. The respective compartment of the sorting box is also opened, and the operator can place the analysed punched card into it by hand. Functional HNF replica: 2006
The comptometer was the first exclusively key-driven mechanical calculator. The “wooden box” was a precursor to the full-keyboard adding machines built between 1886 and 1904. According to its manufacturer’s promotional material, it was the world’s first adding machine with a practical application. Date of manufacture: about 1900
The Underwood No. 5, which appeared in 1900, was the first classic modern typewriter (with visible text, upper- and lower-case letters and tab stops). It set the standard for all subsequent typewriters worldwide until they were superseded first by IBM electric typewriters, which used a type ball instead of type bars, and then by PCs. Date of manufacture: 1915
This extremely compact table-top telephone with a quirky design was also known as the “Pferdefuss” or “horse’s hoof” in Bavaria due to its shape. It was the approved standard dialling apparatus only in Bavaria. Incidentally, the device was referred to as the “cow’s hoof” in Prussia. Date of manufacture: from 1925 onwards
In 1879 the Ritty brothers filed a patent application for the first cash register in the USA. Businessman John H. Patterson acquired the rights to manufacture cash registers in 1884 and founded the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio. The NCR 400 series models were among the standard cash registers in use at the time. They were favoured by retail outlets because of their robust nature. Model 422 has five rows of keys and features 42 keys in all. The indicators are in English and show sums of pounds and pence. Date of manufacture: 1910
The Kryha Liliput is a very rare cipher machine in pocket-watch format. The machine consisted of two concentric rings, each featuring an alphabet and numbers. The user would operate it by pushing a lever to step the inner ring a random number of places against the outer ring, thereby changing the relationship between the two. Although Kryha’s devices were a commercial success, they were cryptographically weak as the period lengths of the codes were generally quite short. The Kryha Liliput was cryptographically compatible with its “big sister”, the Kryha Standard. Date of manufacture: about 1926
The legendary Enigma cipher machine was developed in the early 1920s by the German engineer Artur Scherbius in Berlin and initially marketed for commercial purposes. The machine has three rotors, each of which performs an alphabetic substitution cipher. By combining the rotors in series and using a plugboard with variable wiring, very complex scrambling of the message can be achieved. Date of manufacture: about 1942
The T52 e was a World War II German cipher machine and teleprinter. Due to its size and weight, however, it was only ever used as a stationary device. Unlike the Enigma, messages were encrypted and deciphered automatically. On 20 July 1944, the resistance group led by Claus von Stauffenberg used the device to issue encrypted commands for Operation Valkyrie, the plot to assassinate Hitler. Date of manufacture: 1942
The first functioning electronic computer consisted of 40 panels with almost 18,000 vacuum tubes. J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly were commissioned to construct a vacuum-tube computer by the US Army in 1943. ENIAC, which was 1,000 times faster than other calculating machines, was developed by the young scientists at the Moore School of Electronics in Philadelphia. It required just eight hours to perform calculations that had previously taken an entire year. The high processing capacity was needed by the US Army to calculate artillery firing tables. Mauchly wanted to use ENIAC’s speed to produce more accurate weather forecasts, which is why its inventors built a “universal machine“. Date of manufacture: 1946
The history of IBM in Germany dates back to 1910, with the founding of DEHOMAG (Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH) in Berlin. The company was renamed IBM Deutschland GmbH in 1949, when it relocated to Böblingen. The D 11 tabulator, which was manufactured from 1935 onwards, was the first German machine of its kind. Used for punched card analysis, its ability to read, count, compute and print cards made it the mainstay of many so-called Hollerith departments. The machine proved a milestone in the development of punched card technology: It was on sale until 1960, latterly as the IBM D11 Type 450. Around 1,100 D 11 models were sold in all. Date of manufacture: between 1949 and 1960
In the early days of telephony, calls were connected manually by a switchboard operator . The next stage of development saw the introduction of automatic telephone exchanges which dispensed with the need for human intervention. A local telephone exchange establishes connections between the subscribers of a local network. In this case, an analogue electrical signal is switched via electromechanical components. If the first digit dialled by the subscriber is a zero, he or she is put through to the trunk or long-distance exchange. The electromechanical system exhibited here was in use in Hagen-Eilpe until 1994, when it was replaced by a digital switching system.
The W48 desktop telephone was developed for the Deutsche Bundespost by Siemens & Halske in 1948 in the western zone of occupied Germany and produced in very large quantities. Date of manufacture: 1954
This is the first computer developed by Heinz Nixdorf. He started work in July 1952 and it took him 15 months to complete. The electronic balancer is equipped with vacuum tubes. It is a one-off machine built especially for materials management at Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), where it supplemented the work of a Remington Rand tabulating machine, whose mechanical mode of operation was no match for the much faster Nixdorf electronics. Date of manufacture: 1953
The accounting machine Exacta-Continental 6000 was the ultimate in electromechanical office equipment: it could manage all accounting tasks with ease. It came with an optional Multitronic electronic multiplication unit manufactured by Heinz Nixdorf’s Labor für Impulstechnik, which signalled the beginning of a new data processing era from 1958 onwards. Date of manufacture: about 1958
The Zuse Z 11 was the first programmable relay computer from ZUSE KG to go into series production. It was used for mathematical calculations, its hard-wired programs having been designed for surveying tasks in particular. The last in a development series of electro-mechanically controlled computer systems, it contained relays as binary switching elements. These may have been slower than vacuum tubes, but were also more reliable, more durable and less expensive. Date of manufacture: 1958
The Curta is the only mechanical pocket calculator that is capable of performing all four basic arithmetic operations. The inventor of this precision-engineered masterpiece was an Austrian, Curt Herzstark (1902-1988). Date of manufacture: about 1965
The Anita was the first all-electronic, tube-based desktop calculator. Not only was it completely silent, but it operated much faster than mechanical machines, and was maintenance-free too. However, tubes were not an optimum technical solution for desktop calculators as they used a lot of electricity, were relatively susceptible to breakage and were expensive to produce. For this reason, this technology remained unique to the Anita. Mass production of such devices only became an option once transistors started to be used from around 1964 onwards. Date of manufacture: 1961
The linotype machine was a “line casting” machine used in printing. It replaced the extremely time-consuming manual type-setting process. The machine, which was patented in 1886, mechanised the setting and casting of letters. The setter entered text at a keyboard: every time a key was pressed, a matrix of the chosen letter fell into position from a magazine. The assembled line of matrices was cast as a single piece of type metal and filled with liquid lead once the spaces between words had been automatically adjusted. After cooling, this produced “A LINE OF TYPES”. Date of manufacture: 1962
At the start of the 1950s, VEB Optima Büromaschinenwerk Erfurt was asked to develop a typewriter for China as part of e socialist initiative to support allied nations. The Erfurt manufacturers based their design on the box-type typewriter first sold in 1917 by Nippon Typewriter Co. Ltd. in Tokyo. The “Chinese Optima” made its début in 1953. Subsequently, the Chinese bicycle factory “Flying Dove” took over production of the device, two versions of which were produced in China under the “Flying Dove” brand until the end of 1992. Date of manufacture: 1992
This computer originated from the Gemini II mission; it featured in an unmanned space flight on 19.01.1965. The Mercury and Gemini space programmes laid the groundwork for the moon landing. From 1963 onwards, the Gemini missions tested orbital coupling manoeuvres necessary to achieve rendezvous and docking. Safe, accurate manoeuvring was only possible with the aid of a computer. IBM’s commission to develop the on-board computer was worth $26.6 million. It was the first computer to have a magnetic core memory so that data was not destroyed when read out. It was also IBM’s first computer to be fully transistorised. The computer proved reliable in operation. Date of manufacture: about 1964
In 1965, the Digital Equipment Corporation presented the PDP-8, thereby marking the beginning of the mini-computer era. Priced at just 18,200 Dollars, this general-purpose computer was robust enough to be used in both production and laboratory environments. Some 10,000 of them were sold within the space of 10 years; by 1975, the PDP-8 cost just 2,600 Dollars. A whole variety of manufacturers tapped into the new market, building computers based on the PDP-8 for use in process and manufacturing technology and for controlling experiments in research. By 1975, more than 30 companies in the West German market alone were selling mini-computers. Date of manufacture: 1965
In 1964, Nixdorf developed the electronics for a desk-top calculator produced by office equipment manufacturer Wanderer, later building the components itself under licence. The “Wanderer Conti” was presented to the public for the first time in 1965 at the Hanover Trade Fair. It was the world’s first fully electronic desk-top calculator with printing output. In terms of design, the four-species calculator was a bona fide computer, boasting an arithmetic unit, a magnetic core memory, a printer and a threaded read-only memory (ROM). The Conti enabled Nixdorf to gain a foothold in the US market when the Chicago-based Victor Comptometer Corporation placed an order worth DM 100 million for the machine in 1968. Date of manufacture: 1966
The Olivetti Valentine is a mechanical typewriter that stands out largely by virtue of its unconventional appearance. It is regarded as a milestone in industrial design and is a sought-after collector’s item. Date of manufacture: early 1970s
The great success enjoyed by Nixdorf at the end of the 1960s and start of the 1970s was based largely on the computers of the 820 series. These were universal computers for companies of all sizes and could be used for almost any application area thanks to their modular construction and consistent application of the modular design system. Date of manufacture: 1974
Canon Canola Pocketronic, Sanyo ICC-82D, Sharp EL-8: The first battery-operated electronic pocket calculators were brought out virtually simultaneously in 1970 by Japanese firms Sanyo, Sharp and Canon. However, the "heart" of these first pocket calculators – the microchip – was produced by US companies such as Texas Instruments and Rockwell. Texas Instruments had developed the first portable prototype as early as 1967. But the Cal-Tech, as it was known, was merely supposed to demonstrate the power of the new chip and never went into series production. The huge sales potential of the pocket calculator had yet to be recognised, especially since it was still too expensive to produce. It was for this reason that Texas Instruments sold the technical design of the Cal-Tech to Canon, and only brought out its own pocket calculator in 1972. Date of manufacture: 1970
The Odyssey console laid the foundations for the video game era. In 1966 Ralph Baer, a US engineer of German descent, filed a patent for a kind of ping-pong game. This was ultimately granted in 1968. It was not until 1972 that the game was distributed with a gaming console by Magnavox. Poor marketing meant that although the video game wasn’t a commercial flop, it wasn’t a resounding financial success either. Date of manufacture: 1972
The HP-35 was the world's first scientific pocket calculator. Before it came along, slide rules and logarithm tables were required for trigonometric and exponential functions. Pocket calculators were only capable of the four basic arithmetic operations. The price for an HP-35 in 1972 was about DM 2,000. Date of manufacture: 1972
In 1970, the photocopier company Xerox founded a research centre in Palo Alto known as PARC. This is where the Xerox Alto was developed, a forerunner of much of the PC technology taken for granted today. The Alto had a graphical user interface and a mouse, and was the model on which first the Macintosh, then Windows were based. It was also fully network-capable: the Ethernet was another Xerox PARC invention. Many Alto system engineers later worked on the Apple Macintosh. Only around 1,000 examples of the Alto were built; it was a prototype and was never launched on the market. Date of manufacture: 1973
The January 1975 issue of the magazine Popular Electronics featured the forerunner of the first personal computer, the Altair 8800, which had been designed by Ed Roberts and his company MITS. It was available as a kit for 397 US dollars, making it the first computer that ordinary consumers could afford and marking the advent of widespread PC use. Incidentally, the Altair's name comes from a TV series. The twelve-year-old daughter of editor Les Solomon said: “Call it Altair. That's where the Enterprise is heading tonight.“ Date of manufacture: 1975
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple on 1 April 1976. Soon afterwards, they presented their first computer: the Apple I. A total of only 200 Apple I computers were made. Jobs and Wozniak built it in Jobs's parents' garage in Los Altos, California and sold it for $666. The Apple I was actually just a circuit board. Users had to make their own housing for it and add input and output devices themselves. There are still around 70 Apple I computers in existence worldwide. Date of manufacture: 1976
The Apple II was the first “personal“ desktop computer to achieve commercial success. In contrast to the Apple I, the main board was supplied in a plastic housing together with a keyboard, a monitor and software.  The Apple Writer word processor and VisiCalc spreadsheet software were key to its success. The Apple II marked the start of Apple's rise to become the world's most successful company. Date of manufacture: 1977
The computer centre from the Sachsenwerk in Dresden is part of a system that was only shut down in 1993. It played a role in GDR computer history and a part in the success story of a major computer system. The Einheitliches System Elektronischer Rechenanlagen (standardized system of electronic computers) is the functional replica of an IBM computer: ESER 1055 is compatible with the 370/155 in terms of hardware and software alike. These computer systems were built until well into the 1980s. Date of manufacture: about 1979
Whenever computers were mentioned in the 1960s and 1970s, IBM was the name on everyone's lips. Despite this, the manufacturing giant was so slow to react that it almost missed out on the personal computer revolution, eventually launching its own PC 5150 in August 1981. The device proved an immediate hit, becoming an office mainstay. After all, it was a product of THE computer company, a fact which engendered trust among businesses that had not had any faith in the models available on the market thus far. The IBM PC, which ran with Microsoft's DOS operating system, provided the industry standard that had been lacking for so long. Date of manufacture: 1984
When Adam Osborne founded his computer firm, he was already well-known on the burgeoning home-computer scene thanks to numerous books and articles he had published. Although others before him had toyed with the idea of building a portable computer, his model, the Osborne 1, was the first on the market. Compared with today’s laptops, the Osborne 1 was extremely heavy and unwieldy. Despite this drawback, it proved a big success and almost became a cult object. Unfortunately, Osborne’s company went bankrupt in 1983. Date of manufacture: 1983
Commodore presented the C64 in 1982. Two years after its launch, four million units had already been sold, breaking all previous records for computer sales. Ultimately, a total of over 20 million C64 computers were sold throughout the world. The C64 was sometimes referred to as the “breadbox“ or even the “neck rest“ due to its shape. Date of manufacture: 1982
Motorola launched the first commercial mobile phone in 1983: the Dynatac 8000X. This bulky forebear of today's mobile phones weighed almost 750 grams and cost around $400. Date of manufacture: 1983
Apple launched the Macintosh on 24 January 1984. The Mac broke with all the previously accepted notions about PCs. When Jef Raskin, the father of the Mac, proposed the project in 1979, his idea was to design a computer that was geared to people. The Mac enabled normal users to become acquainted with the graphical user interface featuring desktop, mouse and windows. All they had to do beforehand was to unpack it and plug it in. Although the Mac lost out to the IBM PCs in the office environment, it revolutionised the entire graphic design industry. Date of manufacture: 1984
The Cray-2 was the fastest computer in the world in 1985. It weighed 2.5 tonnes. It was supplied as a supercomputer with up to four processors, a peak performance of 2 GFLOPS, 2 GB of memory and a maximum clock speed of 4.1 ns. It is notable for its striking design. A total of 27 units were sold. Date of manufacture: 1985
The Nintendo Game Boy proved to be one of the most successful products in the company’s history. The hand-held video game device was launched on the market in a plain grey-and-white version in 1989. Its robust technology, ease of operation and low battery consumption all helped to make it the biggest-selling console of the time. Although the Game Boy was initially only available with the game Tetris, strangely enough this became part of its appeal: it wasn’t just for hard-core players, but for everyone. The Game Boy was manufactured until 2002 and 120 million devices were sold in all. Date of manufacture: about 1990
The Newton was Apple’s attempt to create a revolutionary new device. A feature of the PDA (Private Digital Assistant) was handwriting recognition software; the device also came with a stylus which was supposed to make entering text child’s play. The touch-sensitive screen would detect characters and words automatically as they were written. However, this feature never really worked properly at market launch, something which gave rise to less than glowing reviews in the press. The project was halted in 1998 when company founder Steve Jobs re-joined the company. Date of manufacture: 1993
Robot soccer represents a major challenge for researchers in the field of artificial intelligence. A proving ground for the state of science in this field, it is also a means of promoting university-level education. Since 1997, international RoboCup matches featuring research teams from all over the world have been held in various leagues. This model – a third-generation, Middle Size League robot – belongs to the Fraunhofer Institut. Each robot has its own sensors and can make decisions completely autonomously. The robots can, however, communicate wirelessly with one another and with a computer. Date of manufacture: 1999
The robot dog AIBO was perhaps the most technically sophisticated toy ever to be created by its Japanese manufacturer Sony: the battery-operated dog came with 18 electrically controlled joints, microphones, loudspeakers, emotion display, 64-bit processor and a balance system to enable it to stand up. Date of manufacture: 1999
Lauron stands for “LAUfROboter Neuronal gesteuert” (English: “Walking Robot, Neural Controlled”). The walking robot (the 3rd generation of which is on show) was developed in order to research statically stable walking in rough terrain. Its movements are biologically inspired, mimicking those of a stick insect. Each leg can respond semi-autonomously to impulses; the movements are coordinated at a higher level. Lauron is able to gather information about its environment and plan a path towards a given goal autonomously. While walking, the robot uses sensors to detect potential obstacles and then either walks over or around them. Date of manufacture: 1999
Using a camera, this 2nd-generation face robot scans the viewer’s facial expression, which is then recognised and interpreted by software based on a neural net. From a repertoire of pre-programmed responses, the robot’s mechanism is activated and a matching facial expression is generated. The mechanical and electronic parts of the Mark II were covered by a silicone skin to create a robot face that looks as human as possible. Fumio Hara, Science University of Tokyo, Japan, 2001
RoboThespian is a life-sized humanoid robot designed for human interaction in public environments. It can sing as well as tell jokes and recite text passages. Visitors can choose from a selection of programmed text sequences for the metallic creation to read out, accompanied by a range of gestures. Date of manufacture: 2011
The earliest documents written on clay tablets in cuneiform script were used for tax and accounting purposes. Records were kept of the bread rations paid to workers, for example. The precise history is not known. About 2350-2100 BC
Wilhelm Schickard wanted to “mechanise” the laborious and error-prone task of calculating astronomical tables. In 1623 he had two calculating machines built to his specifications in a mechanic’s workshop in Tübingen – one for himself, the other for Johannes Kepler. The practical benefits of his “calculating clock” appeared somewhat dubious at the time, as the system based on logarithmic tables was superior. Regrettably, both machines were destroyed in a fire at the workshop and the invention was forgotten. This reconstruction of the machine by Baron von Freytag Löringhoff was completed in 1957. Date of manufacture: 1957
In 1678, French watchmaker René Grillet presented the “Machine arithmétique” which was capable of carrying out all four basic arithmetic operations. Constructed largely out of paper, the invention used so-called Napier’s rods that had been around since 1617 for the calculation process. It is an excellent example of the early days of mechanical calculation and an ancestor of today’s pocket calculator. Date of manufacture: 1678
This calculating machine, invented by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, was built in the years from 1690 to 1720. It represents a historic milestone in the development of mechanical calculating machines because it was the first to perform all four arithmetic operations. Leibniz's operating mechanism, known as the stepped cylinder or Leibniz wheel, allowed multiplication to be performed mechanically and remained an indispensable component of mechanical calculators for over 200 years. Functioning replica of the only remaining original (at the Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek in Hanover), built to plans by N. Joachim Lehmann. HNF replica: 1995
The device popularly known as the “Chess Turk“ was built in 1769 by Austrian court official Wolfgang von Kempelen in such a way as to convince spectators that they were watching an “automated chess player“. In fact an individual of quite normal size sat inside and controlled the gripper arm with the aid of levers and cable winches. Magnetised chess pieces and small magnetic pins on the underside of the board enabled the moves to be followed by the person within. Functional HNF replica: 2004
An Arithmometer is a mechanical calculating machine invented by the Frenchman Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar (1785-1870). It was the world's first calculating machine to go into series production. As well as addition and subtraction, it could perform multiplication and division by means of repeated addition and subtraction. This luxury version of the calculating machine was a gift to the king of Portugal. Date of manufacture: about 1855
The Hansen Writing Ball was the world's first typewriter to be produced commercially, albeit in small batches. It was developed in 1865 by Rasmus Johann Malling-Hansen, a Danish pastor and teacher of deaf-mutes. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a well-known user. Date of manufacture: about 1878
The name Morse and the code of the same name became synonymous with telegraphy. His procedure for transmitting text information via a series of pulses (dots and dashes) and the silences between them helped the technology achieve a breakthrough. The most important components of the Ericsson Morse Telegraph Type TA 100 for receiving messages (“sounder”) are an electromagnet, an armature, a mechanical clockwork to move the paper tape, a coloured stylus and a roll of paper. A Morse key is required to transmit messages. Date of manufacture: about 1880
In 1883, Englishman Joseph Edmondson obtained a patent for a circular calculating machine based on the stepped-drum mechanism. His design was based on Thomas de Colmar’s simple “arithmomètre”. The advantage of Edmondson’s machine was that it was not limited to a certain number of decimal places if a division produced a remainder. Date of manufacture: about 1885
This machine is a replica of the first Hollerith machine that was used so successfully to complete the first census in the USA thanks to the use of punched cards. It provided a much faster way of counting the vast amount of data gathered. The Hollerith machine consists of two hinged plates, a switch panel with relays, a counting device with 40 counters and a sorting box. When one of the pins on the plates meets a hole in the punched card, a circuit is completed and an electric pulse causes the pointer of a counter to advance accordingly. The respective compartment of the sorting box is also opened, and the operator can place the analysed punched card into it by hand. Functional HNF replica: 2006
The comptometer was the first exclusively key-driven mechanical calculator. The “wooden box” was a precursor to the full-keyboard adding machines built between 1886 and 1904. According to its manufacturer’s promotional material, it was the world’s first adding machine with a practical application. Date of manufacture: about 1900
The Underwood No. 5, which appeared in 1900, was the first classic modern typewriter (with visible text, upper- and lower-case letters and tab stops). It set the standard for all subsequent typewriters worldwide until they were superseded first by IBM electric typewriters, which used a type ball instead of type bars, and then by PCs. Date of manufacture: 1915
This extremely compact table-top telephone with a quirky design was also known as the “Pferdefuss” or “horse’s hoof” in Bavaria due to its shape. It was the approved standard dialling apparatus only in Bavaria. Incidentally, the device was referred to as the “cow’s hoof” in Prussia. Date of manufacture: from 1925 onwards
In 1879 the Ritty brothers filed a patent application for the first cash register in the USA. Businessman John H. Patterson acquired the rights to manufacture cash registers in 1884 and founded the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio. The NCR 400 series models were among the standard cash registers in use at the time. They were favoured by retail outlets because of their robust nature. Model 422 has five rows of keys and features 42 keys in all. The indicators are in English and show sums of pounds and pence. Date of manufacture: 1910
The Kryha Liliput is a very rare cipher machine in pocket-watch format. The machine consisted of two concentric rings, each featuring an alphabet and numbers. The user would operate it by pushing a lever to step the inner ring a random number of places against the outer ring, thereby changing the relationship between the two. Although Kryha’s devices were a commercial success, they were cryptographically weak as the period lengths of the codes were generally quite short. The Kryha Liliput was cryptographically compatible with its “big sister”, the Kryha Standard. Date of manufacture: about 1926
The legendary Enigma cipher machine was developed in the early 1920s by the German engineer Artur Scherbius in Berlin and initially marketed for commercial purposes. The machine has three rotors, each of which performs an alphabetic substitution cipher. By combining the rotors in series and using a plugboard with variable wiring, very complex scrambling of the message can be achieved. Date of manufacture: about 1942
The T52 e was a World War II German cipher machine and teleprinter. Due to its size and weight, however, it was only ever used as a stationary device. Unlike the Enigma, messages were encrypted and deciphered automatically. On 20 July 1944, the resistance group led by Claus von Stauffenberg used the device to issue encrypted commands for Operation Valkyrie, the plot to assassinate Hitler. Date of manufacture: 1942
The first functioning electronic computer consisted of 40 panels with almost 18,000 vacuum tubes. J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly were commissioned to construct a vacuum-tube computer by the US Army in 1943. ENIAC, which was 1,000 times faster than other calculating machines, was developed by the young scientists at the Moore School of Electronics in Philadelphia. It required just eight hours to perform calculations that had previously taken an entire year. The high processing capacity was needed by the US Army to calculate artillery firing tables. Mauchly wanted to use ENIAC’s speed to produce more accurate weather forecasts, which is why its inventors built a “universal machine“. Date of manufacture: 1946
The history of IBM in Germany dates back to 1910, with the founding of DEHOMAG (Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH) in Berlin. The company was renamed IBM Deutschland GmbH in 1949, when it relocated to Böblingen. The D 11 tabulator, which was manufactured from 1935 onwards, was the first German machine of its kind. Used for punched card analysis, its ability to read, count, compute and print cards made it the mainstay of many so-called Hollerith departments. The machine proved a milestone in the development of punched card technology: It was on sale until 1960, latterly as the IBM D11 Type 450. Around 1,100 D 11 models were sold in all. Date of manufacture: between 1949 and 1960
In the early days of telephony, calls were connected manually by a switchboard operator . The next stage of development saw the introduction of automatic telephone exchanges which dispensed with the need for human intervention. A local telephone exchange establishes connections between the subscribers of a local network. In this case, an analogue electrical signal is switched via electromechanical components. If the first digit dialled by the subscriber is a zero, he or she is put through to the trunk or long-distance exchange. The electromechanical system exhibited here was in use in Hagen-Eilpe until 1994, when it was replaced by a digital switching system.
The W48 desktop telephone was developed for the Deutsche Bundespost by Siemens & Halske in 1948 in the western zone of occupied Germany and produced in very large quantities. Date of manufacture: 1954
This is the first computer developed by Heinz Nixdorf. He started work in July 1952 and it took him 15 months to complete. The electronic balancer is equipped with vacuum tubes. It is a one-off machine built especially for materials management at Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), where it supplemented the work of a Remington Rand tabulating machine, whose mechanical mode of operation was no match for the much faster Nixdorf electronics. Date of manufacture: 1953
The accounting machine Exacta-Continental 6000 was the ultimate in electromechanical office equipment: it could manage all accounting tasks with ease. It came with an optional Multitronic electronic multiplication unit manufactured by Heinz Nixdorf’s Labor für Impulstechnik, which signalled the beginning of a new data processing era from 1958 onwards. Date of manufacture: about 1958
The Zuse Z 11 was the first programmable relay computer from ZUSE KG to go into series production. It was used for mathematical calculations, its hard-wired programs having been designed for surveying tasks in particular. The last in a development series of electro-mechanically controlled computer systems, it contained relays as binary switching elements. These may have been slower than vacuum tubes, but were also more reliable, more durable and less expensive. Date of manufacture: 1958
The Curta is the only mechanical pocket calculator that is capable of performing all four basic arithmetic operations. The inventor of this precision-engineered masterpiece was an Austrian, Curt Herzstark (1902-1988). Date of manufacture: about 1965
The Anita was the first all-electronic, tube-based desktop calculator. Not only was it completely silent, but it operated much faster than mechanical machines, and was maintenance-free too. However, tubes were not an optimum technical solution for desktop calculators as they used a lot of electricity, were relatively susceptible to breakage and were expensive to produce. For this reason, this technology remained unique to the Anita. Mass production of such devices only became an option once transistors started to be used from around 1964 onwards. Date of manufacture: 1961
The linotype machine was a “line casting” machine used in printing. It replaced the extremely time-consuming manual type-setting process. The machine, which was patented in 1886, mechanised the setting and casting of letters. The setter entered text at a keyboard: every time a key was pressed, a matrix of the chosen letter fell into position from a magazine. The assembled line of matrices was cast as a single piece of type metal and filled with liquid lead once the spaces between words had been automatically adjusted. After cooling, this produced “A LINE OF TYPES”. Date of manufacture: 1962
At the start of the 1950s, VEB Optima Büromaschinenwerk Erfurt was asked to develop a typewriter for China as part of e socialist initiative to support allied nations. The Erfurt manufacturers based their design on the box-type typewriter first sold in 1917 by Nippon Typewriter Co. Ltd. in Tokyo. The “Chinese Optima” made its début in 1953. Subsequently, the Chinese bicycle factory “Flying Dove” took over production of the device, two versions of which were produced in China under the “Flying Dove” brand until the end of 1992. Date of manufacture: 1992
This computer originated from the Gemini II mission; it featured in an unmanned space flight on 19.01.1965. The Mercury and Gemini space programmes laid the groundwork for the moon landing. From 1963 onwards, the Gemini missions tested orbital coupling manoeuvres necessary to achieve rendezvous and docking. Safe, accurate manoeuvring was only possible with the aid of a computer. IBM’s commission to develop the on-board computer was worth $26.6 million. It was the first computer to have a magnetic core memory so that data was not destroyed when read out. It was also IBM’s first computer to be fully transistorised. The computer proved reliable in operation. Date of manufacture: about 1964
In 1965, the Digital Equipment Corporation presented the PDP-8, thereby marking the beginning of the mini-computer era. Priced at just 18,200 Dollars, this general-purpose computer was robust enough to be used in both production and laboratory environments. Some 10,000 of them were sold within the space of 10 years; by 1975, the PDP-8 cost just 2,600 Dollars. A whole variety of manufacturers tapped into the new market, building computers based on the PDP-8 for use in process and manufacturing technology and for controlling experiments in research. By 1975, more than 30 companies in the West German market alone were selling mini-computers. Date of manufacture: 1965
In 1964, Nixdorf developed the electronics for a desk-top calculator produced by office equipment manufacturer Wanderer, later building the components itself under licence. The “Wanderer Conti” was presented to the public for the first time in 1965 at the Hanover Trade Fair. It was the world’s first fully electronic desk-top calculator with printing output. In terms of design, the four-species calculator was a bona fide computer, boasting an arithmetic unit, a magnetic core memory, a printer and a threaded read-only memory (ROM). The Conti enabled Nixdorf to gain a foothold in the US market when the Chicago-based Victor Comptometer Corporation placed an order worth DM 100 million for the machine in 1968. Date of manufacture: 1966
The Olivetti Valentine is a mechanical typewriter that stands out largely by virtue of its unconventional appearance. It is regarded as a milestone in industrial design and is a sought-after collector’s item. Date of manufacture: early 1970s
The great success enjoyed by Nixdorf at the end of the 1960s and start of the 1970s was based largely on the computers of the 820 series. These were universal computers for companies of all sizes and could be used for almost any application area thanks to their modular construction and consistent application of the modular design system. Date of manufacture: 1974
Canon Canola Pocketronic, Sanyo ICC-82D, Sharp EL-8: The first battery-operated electronic pocket calculators were brought out virtually simultaneously in 1970 by Japanese firms Sanyo, Sharp and Canon. However, the "heart" of these first pocket calculators – the microchip – was produced by US companies such as Texas Instruments and Rockwell. Texas Instruments had developed the first portable prototype as early as 1967. But the Cal-Tech, as it was known, was merely supposed to demonstrate the power of the new chip and never went into series production. The huge sales potential of the pocket calculator had yet to be recognised, especially since it was still too expensive to produce. It was for this reason that Texas Instruments sold the technical design of the Cal-Tech to Canon, and only brought out its own pocket calculator in 1972. Date of manufacture: 1970
The Odyssey console laid the foundations for the video game era. In 1966 Ralph Baer, a US engineer of German descent, filed a patent for a kind of ping-pong game. This was ultimately granted in 1968. It was not until 1972 that the game was distributed with a gaming console by Magnavox. Poor marketing meant that although the video game wasn’t a commercial flop, it wasn’t a resounding financial success either. Date of manufacture: 1972
The HP-35 was the world's first scientific pocket calculator. Before it came along, slide rules and logarithm tables were required for trigonometric and exponential functions. Pocket calculators were only capable of the four basic arithmetic operations. The price for an HP-35 in 1972 was about DM 2,000. Date of manufacture: 1972
In 1970, the photocopier company Xerox founded a research centre in Palo Alto known as PARC. This is where the Xerox Alto was developed, a forerunner of much of the PC technology taken for granted today. The Alto had a graphical user interface and a mouse, and was the model on which first the Macintosh, then Windows were based. It was also fully network-capable: the Ethernet was another Xerox PARC invention. Many Alto system engineers later worked on the Apple Macintosh. Only around 1,000 examples of the Alto were built; it was a prototype and was never launched on the market. Date of manufacture: 1973
The January 1975 issue of the magazine Popular Electronics featured the forerunner of the first personal computer, the Altair 8800, which had been designed by Ed Roberts and his company MITS. It was available as a kit for 397 US dollars, making it the first computer that ordinary consumers could afford and marking the advent of widespread PC use. Incidentally, the Altair's name comes from a TV series. The twelve-year-old daughter of editor Les Solomon said: “Call it Altair. That's where the Enterprise is heading tonight.“ Date of manufacture: 1975
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple on 1 April 1976. Soon afterwards, they presented their first computer: the Apple I. A total of only 200 Apple I computers were made. Jobs and Wozniak built it in Jobs's parents' garage in Los Altos, California and sold it for $666. The Apple I was actually just a circuit board. Users had to make their own housing for it and add input and output devices themselves. There are still around 70 Apple I computers in existence worldwide. Date of manufacture: 1976
The Apple II was the first “personal“ desktop computer to achieve commercial success. In contrast to the Apple I, the main board was supplied in a plastic housing together with a keyboard, a monitor and software.  The Apple Writer word processor and VisiCalc spreadsheet software were key to its success. The Apple II marked the start of Apple's rise to become the world's most successful company. Date of manufacture: 1977
The computer centre from the Sachsenwerk in Dresden is part of a system that was only shut down in 1993. It played a role in GDR computer history and a part in the success story of a major computer system. The Einheitliches System Elektronischer Rechenanlagen (standardized system of electronic computers) is the functional replica of an IBM computer: ESER 1055 is compatible with the 370/155 in terms of hardware and software alike. These computer systems were built until well into the 1980s. Date of manufacture: about 1979
Whenever computers were mentioned in the 1960s and 1970s, IBM was the name on everyone's lips. Despite this, the manufacturing giant was so slow to react that it almost missed out on the personal computer revolution, eventually launching its own PC 5150 in August 1981. The device proved an immediate hit, becoming an office mainstay. After all, it was a product of THE computer company, a fact which engendered trust among businesses that had not had any faith in the models available on the market thus far. The IBM PC, which ran with Microsoft's DOS operating system, provided the industry standard that had been lacking for so long. Date of manufacture: 1984
When Adam Osborne founded his computer firm, he was already well-known on the burgeoning home-computer scene thanks to numerous books and articles he had published. Although others before him had toyed with the idea of building a portable computer, his model, the Osborne 1, was the first on the market. Compared with today’s laptops, the Osborne 1 was extremely heavy and unwieldy. Despite this drawback, it proved a big success and almost became a cult object. Unfortunately, Osborne’s company went bankrupt in 1983. Date of manufacture: 1983
Commodore presented the C64 in 1982. Two years after its launch, four million units had already been sold, breaking all previous records for computer sales. Ultimately, a total of over 20 million C64 computers were sold throughout the world. The C64 was sometimes referred to as the “breadbox“ or even the “neck rest“ due to its shape. Date of manufacture: 1982
Motorola launched the first commercial mobile phone in 1983: the Dynatac 8000X. This bulky forebear of today's mobile phones weighed almost 750 grams and cost around $400. Date of manufacture: 1983
Apple launched the Macintosh on 24 January 1984. The Mac broke with all the previously accepted notions about PCs. When Jef Raskin, the father of the Mac, proposed the project in 1979, his idea was to design a computer that was geared to people. The Mac enabled normal users to become acquainted with the graphical user interface featuring desktop, mouse and windows. All they had to do beforehand was to unpack it and plug it in. Although the Mac lost out to the IBM PCs in the office environment, it revolutionised the entire graphic design industry. Date of manufacture: 1984
The Cray-2 was the fastest computer in the world in 1985. It weighed 2.5 tonnes. It was supplied as a supercomputer with up to four processors, a peak performance of 2 GFLOPS, 2 GB of memory and a maximum clock speed of 4.1 ns. It is notable for its striking design. A total of 27 units were sold. Date of manufacture: 1985
The Nintendo Game Boy proved to be one of the most successful products in the company’s history. The hand-held video game device was launched on the market in a plain grey-and-white version in 1989. Its robust technology, ease of operation and low battery consumption all helped to make it the biggest-selling console of the time. Although the Game Boy was initially only available with the game Tetris, strangely enough this became part of its appeal: it wasn’t just for hard-core players, but for everyone. The Game Boy was manufactured until 2002 and 120 million devices were sold in all. Date of manufacture: about 1990
The Newton was Apple’s attempt to create a revolutionary new device. A feature of the PDA (Private Digital Assistant) was handwriting recognition software; the device also came with a stylus which was supposed to make entering text child’s play. The touch-sensitive screen would detect characters and words automatically as they were written. However, this feature never really worked properly at market launch, something which gave rise to less than glowing reviews in the press. The project was halted in 1998 when company founder Steve Jobs re-joined the company. Date of manufacture: 1993
Robot soccer represents a major challenge for researchers in the field of artificial intelligence. A proving ground for the state of science in this field, it is also a means of promoting university-level education. Since 1997, international RoboCup matches featuring research teams from all over the world have been held in various leagues. This model – a third-generation, Middle Size League robot – belongs to the Fraunhofer Institut. Each robot has its own sensors and can make decisions completely autonomously. The robots can, however, communicate wirelessly with one another and with a computer. Date of manufacture: 1999
The robot dog AIBO was perhaps the most technically sophisticated toy ever to be created by its Japanese manufacturer Sony: the battery-operated dog came with 18 electrically controlled joints, microphones, loudspeakers, emotion display, 64-bit processor and a balance system to enable it to stand up. Date of manufacture: 1999
Lauron stands for “LAUfROboter Neuronal gesteuert” (English: “Walking Robot, Neural Controlled”). The walking robot (the 3rd generation of which is on show) was developed in order to research statically stable walking in rough terrain. Its movements are biologically inspired, mimicking those of a stick insect. Each leg can respond semi-autonomously to impulses; the movements are coordinated at a higher level. Lauron is able to gather information about its environment and plan a path towards a given goal autonomously. While walking, the robot uses sensors to detect potential obstacles and then either walks over or around them. Date of manufacture: 1999
Using a camera, this 2nd-generation face robot scans the viewer’s facial expression, which is then recognised and interpreted by software based on a neural net. From a repertoire of pre-programmed responses, the robot’s mechanism is activated and a matching facial expression is generated. The mechanical and electronic parts of the Mark II were covered by a silicone skin to create a robot face that looks as human as possible. Fumio Hara, Science University of Tokyo, Japan, 2001
RoboThespian is a life-sized humanoid robot designed for human interaction in public environments. It can sing as well as tell jokes and recite text passages. Visitors can choose from a selection of programmed text sequences for the metallic creation to read out, accompanied by a range of gestures. Date of manufacture: 2011
The earliest documents written on clay tablets in cuneiform script were used for tax and accounting purposes. Records were kept of the bread rations paid to workers, for example. The precise history is not known. About 2350-2100 BC
Wilhelm Schickard wanted to “mechanise” the laborious and error-prone task of calculating astronomical tables. In 1623 he had two calculating machines built to his specifications in a mechanic’s workshop in Tübingen – one for himself, the other for Johannes Kepler. The practical benefits of his “calculating clock” appeared somewhat dubious at the time, as the system based on logarithmic tables was superior. Regrettably, both machines were destroyed in a fire at the workshop and the invention was forgotten. This reconstruction of the machine by Baron von Freytag Löringhoff was completed in 1957. Date of manufacture: 1957
In 1678, French watchmaker René Grillet presented the “Machine arithmétique” which was capable of carrying out all four basic arithmetic operations. Constructed largely out of paper, the invention used so-called Napier’s rods that had been around since 1617 for the calculation process. It is an excellent example of the early days of mechanical calculation and an ancestor of today’s pocket calculator. Date of manufacture: 1678
This calculating machine, invented by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, was built in the years from 1690 to 1720. It represents a historic milestone in the development of mechanical calculating machines because it was the first to perform all four arithmetic operations. Leibniz's operating mechanism, known as the stepped cylinder or Leibniz wheel, allowed multiplication to be performed mechanically and remained an indispensable component of mechanical calculators for over 200 years. Functioning replica of the only remaining original (at the Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek in Hanover), built to plans by N. Joachim Lehmann. HNF replica: 1995
The device popularly known as the “Chess Turk“ was built in 1769 by Austrian court official Wolfgang von Kempelen in such a way as to convince spectators that they were watching an “automated chess player“. In fact an individual of quite normal size sat inside and controlled the gripper arm with the aid of levers and cable winches. Magnetised chess pieces and small magnetic pins on the underside of the board enabled the moves to be followed by the person within. Functional HNF replica: 2004
An Arithmometer is a mechanical calculating machine invented by the Frenchman Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar (1785-1870). It was the world's first calculating machine to go into series production. As well as addition and subtraction, it could perform multiplication and division by means of repeated addition and subtraction. This luxury version of the calculating machine was a gift to the king of Portugal. Date of manufacture: about 1855
The Hansen Writing Ball was the world's first typewriter to be produced commercially, albeit in small batches. It was developed in 1865 by Rasmus Johann Malling-Hansen, a Danish pastor and teacher of deaf-mutes. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a well-known user. Date of manufacture: about 1878
The name Morse and the code of the same name became synonymous with telegraphy. His procedure for transmitting text information via a series of pulses (dots and dashes) and the silences between them helped the technology achieve a breakthrough. The most important components of the Ericsson Morse Telegraph Type TA 100 for receiving messages (“sounder”) are an electromagnet, an armature, a mechanical clockwork to move the paper tape, a coloured stylus and a roll of paper. A Morse key is required to transmit messages. Date of manufacture: about 1880
In 1883, Englishman Joseph Edmondson obtained a patent for a circular calculating machine based on the stepped-drum mechanism. His design was based on Thomas de Colmar’s simple “arithmomètre”. The advantage of Edmondson’s machine was that it was not limited to a certain number of decimal places if a division produced a remainder. Date of manufacture: about 1885
This machine is a replica of the first Hollerith machine that was used so successfully to complete the first census in the USA thanks to the use of punched cards. It provided a much faster way of counting the vast amount of data gathered. The Hollerith machine consists of two hinged plates, a switch panel with relays, a counting device with 40 counters and a sorting box. When one of the pins on the plates meets a hole in the punched card, a circuit is completed and an electric pulse causes the pointer of a counter to advance accordingly. The respective compartment of the sorting box is also opened, and the operator can place the analysed punched card into it by hand. Functional HNF replica: 2006
The comptometer was the first exclusively key-driven mechanical calculator. The “wooden box” was a precursor to the full-keyboard adding machines built between 1886 and 1904. According to its manufacturer’s promotional material, it was the world’s first adding machine with a practical application. Date of manufacture: about 1900
The Underwood No. 5, which appeared in 1900, was the first classic modern typewriter (with visible text, upper- and lower-case letters and tab stops). It set the standard for all subsequent typewriters worldwide until they were superseded first by IBM electric typewriters, which used a type ball instead of type bars, and then by PCs. Date of manufacture: 1915
This extremely compact table-top telephone with a quirky design was also known as the “Pferdefuss” or “horse’s hoof” in Bavaria due to its shape. It was the approved standard dialling apparatus only in Bavaria. Incidentally, the device was referred to as the “cow’s hoof” in Prussia. Date of manufacture: from 1925 onwards
In 1879 the Ritty brothers filed a patent application for the first cash register in the USA. Businessman John H. Patterson acquired the rights to manufacture cash registers in 1884 and founded the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio. The NCR 400 series models were among the standard cash registers in use at the time. They were favoured by retail outlets because of their robust nature. Model 422 has five rows of keys and features 42 keys in all. The indicators are in English and show sums of pounds and pence. Date of manufacture: 1910
The Kryha Liliput is a very rare cipher machine in pocket-watch format. The machine consisted of two concentric rings, each featuring an alphabet and numbers. The user would operate it by pushing a lever to step the inner ring a random number of places against the outer ring, thereby changing the relationship between the two. Although Kryha’s devices were a commercial success, they were cryptographically weak as the period lengths of the codes were generally quite short. The Kryha Liliput was cryptographically compatible with its “big sister”, the Kryha Standard. Date of manufacture: about 1926
The legendary Enigma cipher machine was developed in the early 1920s by the German engineer Artur Scherbius in Berlin and initially marketed for commercial purposes. The machine has three rotors, each of which performs an alphabetic substitution cipher. By combining the rotors in series and using a plugboard with variable wiring, very complex scrambling of the message can be achieved. Date of manufacture: about 1942
The T52 e was a World War II German cipher machine and teleprinter. Due to its size and weight, however, it was only ever used as a stationary device. Unlike the Enigma, messages were encrypted and deciphered automatically. On 20 July 1944, the resistance group led by Claus von Stauffenberg used the device to issue encrypted commands for Operation Valkyrie, the plot to assassinate Hitler. Date of manufacture: 1942
The first functioning electronic computer consisted of 40 panels with almost 18,000 vacuum tubes. J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly were commissioned to construct a vacuum-tube computer by the US Army in 1943. ENIAC, which was 1,000 times faster than other calculating machines, was developed by the young scientists at the Moore School of Electronics in Philadelphia. It required just eight hours to perform calculations that had previously taken an entire year. The high processing capacity was needed by the US Army to calculate artillery firing tables. Mauchly wanted to use ENIAC’s speed to produce more accurate weather forecasts, which is why its inventors built a “universal machine“. Date of manufacture: 1946
The history of IBM in Germany dates back to 1910, with the founding of DEHOMAG (Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH) in Berlin. The company was renamed IBM Deutschland GmbH in 1949, when it relocated to Böblingen. The D 11 tabulator, which was manufactured from 1935 onwards, was the first German machine of its kind. Used for punched card analysis, its ability to read, count, compute and print cards made it the mainstay of many so-called Hollerith departments. The machine proved a milestone in the development of punched card technology: It was on sale until 1960, latterly as the IBM D11 Type 450. Around 1,100 D 11 models were sold in all. Date of manufacture: between 1949 and 1960
In the early days of telephony, calls were connected manually by a switchboard operator . The next stage of development saw the introduction of automatic telephone exchanges which dispensed with the need for human intervention. A local telephone exchange establishes connections between the subscribers of a local network. In this case, an analogue electrical signal is switched via electromechanical components. If the first digit dialled by the subscriber is a zero, he or she is put through to the trunk or long-distance exchange. The electromechanical system exhibited here was in use in Hagen-Eilpe until 1994, when it was replaced by a digital switching system.
The W48 desktop telephone was developed for the Deutsche Bundespost by Siemens & Halske in 1948 in the western zone of occupied Germany and produced in very large quantities. Date of manufacture: 1954
This is the first computer developed by Heinz Nixdorf. He started work in July 1952 and it took him 15 months to complete. The electronic balancer is equipped with vacuum tubes. It is a one-off machine built especially for materials management at Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), where it supplemented the work of a Remington Rand tabulating machine, whose mechanical mode of operation was no match for the much faster Nixdorf electronics. Date of manufacture: 1953
The accounting machine Exacta-Continental 6000 was the ultimate in electromechanical office equipment: it could manage all accounting tasks with ease. It came with an optional Multitronic electronic multiplication unit manufactured by Heinz Nixdorf’s Labor für Impulstechnik, which signalled the beginning of a new data processing era from 1958 onwards. Date of manufacture: about 1958
The Zuse Z 11 was the first programmable relay computer from ZUSE KG to go into series production. It was used for mathematical calculations, its hard-wired programs having been designed for surveying tasks in particular. The last in a development series of electro-mechanically controlled computer systems, it contained relays as binary switching elements. These may have been slower than vacuum tubes, but were also more reliable, more durable and less expensive. Date of manufacture: 1958
The Curta is the only mechanical pocket calculator that is capable of performing all four basic arithmetic operations. The inventor of this precision-engineered masterpiece was an Austrian, Curt Herzstark (1902-1988). Date of manufacture: about 1965
The Anita was the first all-electronic, tube-based desktop calculator. Not only was it completely silent, but it operated much faster than mechanical machines, and was maintenance-free too. However, tubes were not an optimum technical solution for desktop calculators as they used a lot of electricity, were relatively susceptible to breakage and were expensive to produce. For this reason, this technology remained unique to the Anita. Mass production of such devices only became an option once transistors started to be used from around 1964 onwards. Date of manufacture: 1961
The linotype machine was a “line casting” machine used in printing. It replaced the extremely time-consuming manual type-setting process. The machine, which was patented in 1886, mechanised the setting and casting of letters. The setter entered text at a keyboard: every time a key was pressed, a matrix of the chosen letter fell into position from a magazine. The assembled line of matrices was cast as a single piece of type metal and filled with liquid lead once the spaces between words had been automatically adjusted. After cooling, this produced “A LINE OF TYPES”. Date of manufacture: 1962
At the start of the 1950s, VEB Optima Büromaschinenwerk Erfurt was asked to develop a typewriter for China as part of e socialist initiative to support allied nations. The Erfurt manufacturers based their design on the box-type typewriter first sold in 1917 by Nippon Typewriter Co. Ltd. in Tokyo. The “Chinese Optima” made its début in 1953. Subsequently, the Chinese bicycle factory “Flying Dove” took over production of the device, two versions of which were produced in China under the “Flying Dove” brand until the end of 1992. Date of manufacture: 1992
This computer originated from the Gemini II mission; it featured in an unmanned space flight on 19.01.1965. The Mercury and Gemini space programmes laid the groundwork for the moon landing. From 1963 onwards, the Gemini missions tested orbital coupling manoeuvres necessary to achieve rendezvous and docking. Safe, accurate manoeuvring was only possible with the aid of a computer. IBM’s commission to develop the on-board computer was worth $26.6 million. It was the first computer to have a magnetic core memory so that data was not destroyed when read out. It was also IBM’s first computer to be fully transistorised. The computer proved reliable in operation. Date of manufacture: about 1964
In 1965, the Digital Equipment Corporation presented the PDP-8, thereby marking the beginning of the mini-computer era. Priced at just 18,200 Dollars, this general-purpose computer was robust enough to be used in both production and laboratory environments. Some 10,000 of them were sold within the space of 10 years; by 1975, the PDP-8 cost just 2,600 Dollars. A whole variety of manufacturers tapped into the new market, building computers based on the PDP-8 for use in process and manufacturing technology and for controlling experiments in research. By 1975, more than 30 companies in the West German market alone were selling mini-computers. Date of manufacture: 1965
In 1964, Nixdorf developed the electronics for a desk-top calculator produced by office equipment manufacturer Wanderer, later building the components itself under licence. The “Wanderer Conti” was presented to the public for the first time in 1965 at the Hanover Trade Fair. It was the world’s first fully electronic desk-top calculator with printing output. In terms of design, the four-species calculator was a bona fide computer, boasting an arithmetic unit, a magnetic core memory, a printer and a threaded read-only memory (ROM). The Conti enabled Nixdorf to gain a foothold in the US market when the Chicago-based Victor Comptometer Corporation placed an order worth DM 100 million for the machine in 1968. Date of manufacture: 1966
The Olivetti Valentine is a mechanical typewriter that stands out largely by virtue of its unconventional appearance. It is regarded as a milestone in industrial design and is a sought-after collector’s item. Date of manufacture: early 1970s
The great success enjoyed by Nixdorf at the end of the 1960s and start of the 1970s was based largely on the computers of the 820 series. These were universal computers for companies of all sizes and could be used for almost any application area thanks to their modular construction and consistent application of the modular design system. Date of manufacture: 1974
Canon Canola Pocketronic, Sanyo ICC-82D, Sharp EL-8: The first battery-operated electronic pocket calculators were brought out virtually simultaneously in 1970 by Japanese firms Sanyo, Sharp and Canon. However, the "heart" of these first pocket calculators – the microchip – was produced by US companies such as Texas Instruments and Rockwell. Texas Instruments had developed the first portable prototype as early as 1967. But the Cal-Tech, as it was known, was merely supposed to demonstrate the power of the new chip and never went into series production. The huge sales potential of the pocket calculator had yet to be recognised, especially since it was still too expensive to produce. It was for this reason that Texas Instruments sold the technical design of the Cal-Tech to Canon, and only brought out its own pocket calculator in 1972. Date of manufacture: 1970
The Odyssey console laid the foundations for the video game era. In 1966 Ralph Baer, a US engineer of German descent, filed a patent for a kind of ping-pong game. This was ultimately granted in 1968. It was not until 1972 that the game was distributed with a gaming console by Magnavox. Poor marketing meant that although the video game wasn’t a commercial flop, it wasn’t a resounding financial success either. Date of manufacture: 1972
The HP-35 was the world's first scientific pocket calculator. Before it came along, slide rules and logarithm tables were required for trigonometric and exponential functions. Pocket calculators were only capable of the four basic arithmetic operations. The price for an HP-35 in 1972 was about DM 2,000. Date of manufacture: 1972
In 1970, the photocopier company Xerox founded a research centre in Palo Alto known as PARC. This is where the Xerox Alto was developed, a forerunner of much of the PC technology taken for granted today. The Alto had a graphical user interface and a mouse, and was the model on which first the Macintosh, then Windows were based. It was also fully network-capable: the Ethernet was another Xerox PARC invention. Many Alto system engineers later worked on the Apple Macintosh. Only around 1,000 examples of the Alto were built; it was a prototype and was never launched on the market. Date of manufacture: 1973
The January 1975 issue of the magazine Popular Electronics featured the forerunner of the first personal computer, the Altair 8800, which had been designed by Ed Roberts and his company MITS. It was available as a kit for 397 US dollars, making it the first computer that ordinary consumers could afford and marking the advent of widespread PC use. Incidentally, the Altair's name comes from a TV series. The twelve-year-old daughter of editor Les Solomon said: “Call it Altair. That's where the Enterprise is heading tonight.“ Date of manufacture: 1975
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple on 1 April 1976. Soon afterwards, they presented their first computer: the Apple I. A total of only 200 Apple I computers were made. Jobs and Wozniak built it in Jobs's parents' garage in Los Altos, California and sold it for $666. The Apple I was actually just a circuit board. Users had to make their own housing for it and add input and output devices themselves. There are still around 70 Apple I computers in existence worldwide. Date of manufacture: 1976
The Apple II was the first “personal“ desktop computer to achieve commercial success. In contrast to the Apple I, the main board was supplied in a plastic housing together with a keyboard, a monitor and software.  The Apple Writer word processor and VisiCalc spreadsheet software were key to its success. The Apple II marked the start of Apple's rise to become the world's most successful company. Date of manufacture: 1977
The computer centre from the Sachsenwerk in Dresden is part of a system that was only shut down in 1993. It played a role in GDR computer history and a part in the success story of a major computer system. The Einheitliches System Elektronischer Rechenanlagen (standardized system of electronic computers) is the functional replica of an IBM computer: ESER 1055 is compatible with the 370/155 in terms of hardware and software alike. These computer systems were built until well into the 1980s. Date of manufacture: about 1979
Whenever computers were mentioned in the 1960s and 1970s, IBM was the name on everyone's lips. Despite this, the manufacturing giant was so slow to react that it almost missed out on the personal computer revolution, eventually launching its own PC 5150 in August 1981. The device proved an immediate hit, becoming an office mainstay. After all, it was a product of THE computer company, a fact which engendered trust among businesses that had not had any faith in the models available on the market thus far. The IBM PC, which ran with Microsoft's DOS operating system, provided the industry standard that had been lacking for so long. Date of manufacture: 1984
When Adam Osborne founded his computer firm, he was already well-known on the burgeoning home-computer scene thanks to numerous books and articles he had published. Although others before him had toyed with the idea of building a portable computer, his model, the Osborne 1, was the first on the market. Compared with today’s laptops, the Osborne 1 was extremely heavy and unwieldy. Despite this drawback, it proved a big success and almost became a cult object. Unfortunately, Osborne’s company went bankrupt in 1983. Date of manufacture: 1983
Commodore presented the C64 in 1982. Two years after its launch, four million units had already been sold, breaking all previous records for computer sales. Ultimately, a total of over 20 million C64 computers were sold throughout the world. The C64 was sometimes referred to as the “breadbox“ or even the “neck rest“ due to its shape. Date of manufacture: 1982
Motorola launched the first commercial mobile phone in 1983: the Dynatac 8000X. This bulky forebear of today's mobile phones weighed almost 750 grams and cost around $400. Date of manufacture: 1983
Apple launched the Macintosh on 24 January 1984. The Mac broke with all the previously accepted notions about PCs. When Jef Raskin, the father of the Mac, proposed the project in 1979, his idea was to design a computer that was geared to people. The Mac enabled normal users to become acquainted with the graphical user interface featuring desktop, mouse and windows. All they had to do beforehand was to unpack it and plug it in. Although the Mac lost out to the IBM PCs in the office environment, it revolutionised the entire graphic design industry. Date of manufacture: 1984
The Cray-2 was the fastest computer in the world in 1985. It weighed 2.5 tonnes. It was supplied as a supercomputer with up to four processors, a peak performance of 2 GFLOPS, 2 GB of memory and a maximum clock speed of 4.1 ns. It is notable for its striking design. A total of 27 units were sold. Date of manufacture: 1985
The Nintendo Game Boy proved to be one of the most successful products in the company’s history. The hand-held video game device was launched on the market in a plain grey-and-white version in 1989. Its robust technology, ease of operation and low battery consumption all helped to make it the biggest-selling console of the time. Although the Game Boy was initially only available with the game Tetris, strangely enough this became part of its appeal: it wasn’t just for hard-core players, but for everyone. The Game Boy was manufactured until 2002 and 120 million devices were sold in all. Date of manufacture: about 1990
The Newton was Apple’s attempt to create a revolutionary new device. A feature of the PDA (Private Digital Assistant) was handwriting recognition software; the device also came with a stylus which was supposed to make entering text child’s play. The touch-sensitive screen would detect characters and words automatically as they were written. However, this feature never really worked properly at market launch, something which gave rise to less than glowing reviews in the press. The project was halted in 1998 when company founder Steve Jobs re-joined the company. Date of manufacture: 1993
Robot soccer represents a major challenge for researchers in the field of artificial intelligence. A proving ground for the state of science in this field, it is also a means of promoting university-level education. Since 1997, international RoboCup matches featuring research teams from all over the world have been held in various leagues. This model – a third-generation, Middle Size League robot – belongs to the Fraunhofer Institut. Each robot has its own sensors and can make decisions completely autonomously. The robots can, however, communicate wirelessly with one another and with a computer. Date of manufacture: 1999
The robot dog AIBO was perhaps the most technically sophisticated toy ever to be created by its Japanese manufacturer Sony: the battery-operated dog came with 18 electrically controlled joints, microphones, loudspeakers, emotion display, 64-bit processor and a balance system to enable it to stand up. Date of manufacture: 1999
Lauron stands for “LAUfROboter Neuronal gesteuert” (English: “Walking Robot, Neural Controlled”). The walking robot (the 3rd generation of which is on show) was developed in order to research statically stable walking in rough terrain. Its movements are biologically inspired, mimicking those of a stick insect. Each leg can respond semi-autonomously to impulses; the movements are coordinated at a higher level. Lauron is able to gather information about its environment and plan a path towards a given goal autonomously. While walking, the robot uses sensors to detect potential obstacles and then either walks over or around them. Date of manufacture: 1999
Using a camera, this 2nd-generation face robot scans the viewer’s facial expression, which is then recognised and interpreted by software based on a neural net. From a repertoire of pre-programmed responses, the robot’s mechanism is activated and a matching facial expression is generated. The mechanical and electronic parts of the Mark II were covered by a silicone skin to create a robot face that looks as human as possible. Fumio Hara, Science University of Tokyo, Japan, 2001
RoboThespian is a life-sized humanoid robot designed for human interaction in public environments. It can sing as well as tell jokes and recite text passages. Visitors can choose from a selection of programmed text sequences for the metallic creation to read out, accompanied by a range of gestures. Date of manufacture: 2011
The earliest documents written on clay tablets in cuneiform script were used for tax and accounting purposes. Records were kept of the bread rations paid to workers, for example. The precise history is not known. About 2350-2100 BC
Wilhelm Schickard wanted to “mechanise” the laborious and error-prone task of calculating astronomical tables. In 1623 he had two calculating machines built to his specifications in a mechanic’s workshop in Tübingen – one for himself, the other for Johannes Kepler. The practical benefits of his “calculating clock” appeared somewhat dubious at the time, as the system based on logarithmic tables was superior. Regrettably, both machines were destroyed in a fire at the workshop and the invention was forgotten. This reconstruction of the machine by Baron von Freytag Löringhoff was completed in 1957. Date of manufacture: 1957
In 1678, French watchmaker René Grillet presented the “Machine arithmétique” which was capable of carrying out all four basic arithmetic operations. Constructed largely out of paper, the invention used so-called Napier’s rods that had been around since 1617 for the calculation process. It is an excellent example of the early days of mechanical calculation and an ancestor of today’s pocket calculator. Date of manufacture: 1678
This calculating machine, invented by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, was built in the years from 1690 to 1720. It represents a historic milestone in the development of mechanical calculating machines because it was the first to perform all four arithmetic operations. Leibniz's operating mechanism, known as the stepped cylinder or Leibniz wheel, allowed multiplication to be performed mechanically and remained an indispensable component of mechanical calculators for over 200 years. Functioning replica of the only remaining original (at the Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek in Hanover), built to plans by N. Joachim Lehmann. HNF replica: 1995
The device popularly known as the “Chess Turk“ was built in 1769 by Austrian court official Wolfgang von Kempelen in such a way as to convince spectators that they were watching an “automated chess player“. In fact an individual of quite normal size sat inside and controlled the gripper arm with the aid of levers and cable winches. Magnetised chess pieces and small magnetic pins on the underside of the board enabled the moves to be followed by the person within. Functional HNF replica: 2004
An Arithmometer is a mechanical calculating machine invented by the Frenchman Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar (1785-1870). It was the world's first calculating machine to go into series production. As well as addition and subtraction, it could perform multiplication and division by means of repeated addition and subtraction. This luxury version of the calculating machine was a gift to the king of Portugal. Date of manufacture: about 1855
The Hansen Writing Ball was the world's first typewriter to be produced commercially, albeit in small batches. It was developed in 1865 by Rasmus Johann Malling-Hansen, a Danish pastor and teacher of deaf-mutes. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a well-known user. Date of manufacture: about 1878
The name Morse and the code of the same name became synonymous with telegraphy. His procedure for transmitting text information via a series of pulses (dots and dashes) and the silences between them helped the technology achieve a breakthrough. The most important components of the Ericsson Morse Telegraph Type TA 100 for receiving messages (“sounder”) are an electromagnet, an armature, a mechanical clockwork to move the paper tape, a coloured stylus and a roll of paper. A Morse key is required to transmit messages. Date of manufacture: about 1880
In 1883, Englishman Joseph Edmondson obtained a patent for a circular calculating machine based on the stepped-drum mechanism. His design was based on Thomas de Colmar’s simple “arithmomètre”. The advantage of Edmondson’s machine was that it was not limited to a certain number of decimal places if a division produced a remainder. Date of manufacture: about 1885
This machine is a replica of the first Hollerith machine that was used so successfully to complete the first census in the USA thanks to the use of punched cards. It provided a much faster way of counting the vast amount of data gathered. The Hollerith machine consists of two hinged plates, a switch panel with relays, a counting device with 40 counters and a sorting box. When one of the pins on the plates meets a hole in the punched card, a circuit is completed and an electric pulse causes the pointer of a counter to advance accordingly. The respective compartment of the sorting box is also opened, and the operator can place the analysed punched card into it by hand. Functional HNF replica: 2006
The comptometer was the first exclusively key-driven mechanical calculator. The “wooden box” was a precursor to the full-keyboard adding machines built between 1886 and 1904. According to its manufacturer’s promotional material, it was the world’s first adding machine with a practical application. Date of manufacture: about 1900
The Underwood No. 5, which appeared in 1900, was the first classic modern typewriter (with visible text, upper- and lower-case letters and tab stops). It set the standard for all subsequent typewriters worldwide until they were superseded first by IBM electric typewriters, which used a type ball instead of type bars, and then by PCs. Date of manufacture: 1915
This extremely compact table-top telephone with a quirky design was also known as the “Pferdefuss” or “horse’s hoof” in Bavaria due to its shape. It was the approved standard dialling apparatus only in Bavaria. Incidentally, the device was referred to as the “cow’s hoof” in Prussia. Date of manufacture: from 1925 onwards
In 1879 the Ritty brothers filed a patent application for the first cash register in the USA. Businessman John H. Patterson acquired the rights to manufacture cash registers in 1884 and founded the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio. The NCR 400 series models were among the standard cash registers in use at the time. They were favoured by retail outlets because of their robust nature. Model 422 has five rows of keys and features 42 keys in all. The indicators are in English and show sums of pounds and pence. Date of manufacture: 1910
The Kryha Liliput is a very rare cipher machine in pocket-watch format. The machine consisted of two concentric rings, each featuring an alphabet and numbers. The user would operate it by pushing a lever to step the inner ring a random number of places against the outer ring, thereby changing the relationship between the two. Although Kryha’s devices were a commercial success, they were cryptographically weak as the period lengths of the codes were generally quite short. The Kryha Liliput was cryptographically compatible with its “big sister”, the Kryha Standard. Date of manufacture: about 1926
The legendary Enigma cipher machine was developed in the early 1920s by the German engineer Artur Scherbius in Berlin and initially marketed for commercial purposes. The machine has three rotors, each of which performs an alphabetic substitution cipher. By combining the rotors in series and using a plugboard with variable wiring, very complex scrambling of the message can be achieved. Date of manufacture: about 1942
The T52 e was a World War II German cipher machine and teleprinter. Due to its size and weight, however, it was only ever used as a stationary device. Unlike the Enigma, messages were encrypted and deciphered automatically. On 20 July 1944, the resistance group led by Claus von Stauffenberg used the device to issue encrypted commands for Operation Valkyrie, the plot to assassinate Hitler. Date of manufacture: 1942
The first functioning electronic computer consisted of 40 panels with almost 18,000 vacuum tubes. J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly were commissioned to construct a vacuum-tube computer by the US Army in 1943. ENIAC, which was 1,000 times faster than other calculating machines, was developed by the young scientists at the Moore School of Electronics in Philadelphia. It required just eight hours to perform calculations that had previously taken an entire year. The high processing capacity was needed by the US Army to calculate artillery firing tables. Mauchly wanted to use ENIAC’s speed to produce more accurate weather forecasts, which is why its inventors built a “universal machine“. Date of manufacture: 1946
The history of IBM in Germany dates back to 1910, with the founding of DEHOMAG (Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH) in Berlin. The company was renamed IBM Deutschland GmbH in 1949, when it relocated to Böblingen. The D 11 tabulator, which was manufactured from 1935 onwards, was the first German machine of its kind. Used for punched card analysis, its ability to read, count, compute and print cards made it the mainstay of many so-called Hollerith departments. The machine proved a milestone in the development of punched card technology: It was on sale until 1960, latterly as the IBM D11 Type 450. Around 1,100 D 11 models were sold in all. Date of manufacture: between 1949 and 1960
In the early days of telephony, calls were connected manually by a switchboard operator . The next stage of development saw the introduction of automatic telephone exchanges which dispensed with the need for human intervention. A local telephone exchange establishes connections between the subscribers of a local network. In this case, an analogue electrical signal is switched via electromechanical components. If the first digit dialled by the subscriber is a zero, he or she is put through to the trunk or long-distance exchange. The electromechanical system exhibited here was in use in Hagen-Eilpe until 1994, when it was replaced by a digital switching system.
The W48 desktop telephone was developed for the Deutsche Bundespost by Siemens & Halske in 1948 in the western zone of occupied Germany and produced in very large quantities. Date of manufacture: 1954
This is the first computer developed by Heinz Nixdorf. He started work in July 1952 and it took him 15 months to complete. The electronic balancer is equipped with vacuum tubes. It is a one-off machine built especially for materials management at Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), where it supplemented the work of a Remington Rand tabulating machine, whose mechanical mode of operation was no match for the much faster Nixdorf electronics. Date of manufacture: 1953
The accounting machine Exacta-Continental 6000 was the ultimate in electromechanical office equipment: it could manage all accounting tasks with ease. It came with an optional Multitronic electronic multiplication unit manufactured by Heinz Nixdorf’s Labor für Impulstechnik, which signalled the beginning of a new data processing era from 1958 onwards. Date of manufacture: about 1958
The Zuse Z 11 was the first programmable relay computer from ZUSE KG to go into series production. It was used for mathematical calculations, its hard-wired programs having been designed for surveying tasks in particular. The last in a development series of electro-mechanically controlled computer systems, it contained relays as binary switching elements. These may have been slower than vacuum tubes, but were also more reliable, more durable and less expensive. Date of manufacture: 1958
The Curta is the only mechanical pocket calculator that is capable of performing all four basic arithmetic operations. The inventor of this precision-engineered masterpiece was an Austrian, Curt Herzstark (1902-1988). Date of manufacture: about 1965
The Anita was the first all-electronic, tube-based desktop calculator. Not only was it completely silent, but it operated much faster than mechanical machines, and was maintenance-free too. However, tubes were not an optimum technical solution for desktop calculators as they used a lot of electricity, were relatively susceptible to breakage and were expensive to produce. For this reason, this technology remained unique to the Anita. Mass production of such devices only became an option once transistors started to be used from around 1964 onwards. Date of manufacture: 1961
The linotype machine was a “line casting” machine used in printing. It replaced the extremely time-consuming manual type-setting process. The machine, which was patented in 1886, mechanised the setting and casting of letters. The setter entered text at a keyboard: every time a key was pressed, a matrix of the chosen letter fell into position from a magazine. The assembled line of matrices was cast as a single piece of type metal and filled with liquid lead once the spaces between words had been automatically adjusted. After cooling, this produced “A LINE OF TYPES”. Date of manufacture: 1962
At the start of the 1950s, VEB Optima Büromaschinenwerk Erfurt was asked to develop a typewriter for China as part of e socialist initiative to support allied nations. The Erfurt manufacturers based their design on the box-type typewriter first sold in 1917 by Nippon Typewriter Co. Ltd. in Tokyo. The “Chinese Optima” made its début in 1953. Subsequently, the Chinese bicycle factory “Flying Dove” took over production of the device, two versions of which were produced in China under the “Flying Dove” brand until the end of 1992. Date of manufacture: 1992
This computer originated from the Gemini II mission; it featured in an unmanned space flight on 19.01.1965. The Mercury and Gemini space programmes laid the groundwork for the moon landing. From 1963 onwards, the Gemini missions tested orbital coupling manoeuvres necessary to achieve rendezvous and docking. Safe, accurate manoeuvring was only possible with the aid of a computer. IBM’s commission to develop the on-board computer was worth $26.6 million. It was the first computer to have a magnetic core memory so that data was not destroyed when read out. It was also IBM’s first computer to be fully transistorised. The computer proved reliable in operation. Date of manufacture: about 1964
In 1965, the Digital Equipment Corporation presented the PDP-8, thereby marking the beginning of the mini-computer era. Priced at just 18,200 Dollars, this general-purpose computer was robust enough to be used in both production and laboratory environments. Some 10,000 of them were sold within the space of 10 years; by 1975, the PDP-8 cost just 2,600 Dollars. A whole variety of manufacturers tapped into the new market, building computers based on the PDP-8 for use in process and manufacturing technology and for controlling experiments in research. By 1975, more than 30 companies in the West German market alone were selling mini-computers. Date of manufacture: 1965
In 1964, Nixdorf developed the electronics for a desk-top calculator produced by office equipment manufacturer Wanderer, later building the components itself under licence. The “Wanderer Conti” was presented to the public for the first time in 1965 at the Hanover Trade Fair. It was the world’s first fully electronic desk-top calculator with printing output. In terms of design, the four-species calculator was a bona fide computer, boasting an arithmetic unit, a magnetic core memory, a printer and a threaded read-only memory (ROM). The Conti enabled Nixdorf to gain a foothold in the US market when the Chicago-based Victor Comptometer Corporation placed an order worth DM 100 million for the machine in 1968. Date of manufacture: 1966
The Olivetti Valentine is a mechanical typewriter that stands out largely by virtue of its unconventional appearance. It is regarded as a milestone in industrial design and is a sought-after collector’s item. Date of manufacture: early 1970s
The great success enjoyed by Nixdorf at the end of the 1960s and start of the 1970s was based largely on the computers of the 820 series. These were universal computers for companies of all sizes and could be used for almost any application area thanks to their modular construction and consistent application of the modular design system. Date of manufacture: 1974
Canon Canola Pocketronic, Sanyo ICC-82D, Sharp EL-8: The first battery-operated electronic pocket calculators were brought out virtually simultaneously in 1970 by Japanese firms Sanyo, Sharp and Canon. However, the "heart" of these first pocket calculators – the microchip – was produced by US companies such as Texas Instruments and Rockwell. Texas Instruments had developed the first portable prototype as early as 1967. But the Cal-Tech, as it was known, was merely supposed to demonstrate the power of the new chip and never went into series production. The huge sales potential of the pocket calculator had yet to be recognised, especially since it was still too expensive to produce. It was for this reason that Texas Instruments sold the technical design of the Cal-Tech to Canon, and only brought out its own pocket calculator in 1972. Date of manufacture: 1970
The Odyssey console laid the foundations for the video game era. In 1966 Ralph Baer, a US engineer of German descent, filed a patent for a kind of ping-pong game. This was ultimately granted in 1968. It was not until 1972 that the game was distributed with a gaming console by Magnavox. Poor marketing meant that although the video game wasn’t a commercial flop, it wasn’t a resounding financial success either. Date of manufacture: 1972
The HP-35 was the world's first scientific pocket calculator. Before it came along, slide rules and logarithm tables were required for trigonometric and exponential functions. Pocket calculators were only capable of the four basic arithmetic operations. The price for an HP-35 in 1972 was about DM 2,000. Date of manufacture: 1972
In 1970, the photocopier company Xerox founded a research centre in Palo Alto known as PARC. This is where the Xerox Alto was developed, a forerunner of much of the PC technology taken for granted today. The Alto had a graphical user interface and a mouse, and was the model on which first the Macintosh, then Windows were based. It was also fully network-capable: the Ethernet was another Xerox PARC invention. Many Alto system engineers later worked on the Apple Macintosh. Only around 1,000 examples of the Alto were built; it was a prototype and was never launched on the market. Date of manufacture: 1973
The January 1975 issue of the magazine Popular Electronics featured the forerunner of the first personal computer, the Altair 8800, which had been designed by Ed Roberts and his company MITS. It was available as a kit for 397 US dollars, making it the first computer that ordinary consumers could afford and marking the advent of widespread PC use. Incidentally, the Altair's name comes from a TV series. The twelve-year-old daughter of editor Les Solomon said: “Call it Altair. That's where the Enterprise is heading tonight.“ Date of manufacture: 1975
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple on 1 April 1976. Soon afterwards, they presented their first computer: the Apple I. A total of only 200 Apple I computers were made. Jobs and Wozniak built it in Jobs's parents' garage in Los Altos, California and sold it for $666. The Apple I was actually just a circuit board. Users had to make their own housing for it and add input and output devices themselves. There are still around 70 Apple I computers in existence worldwide. Date of manufacture: 1976
The Apple II was the first “personal“ desktop computer to achieve commercial success. In contrast to the Apple I, the main board was supplied in a plastic housing together with a keyboard, a monitor and software.  The Apple Writer word processor and VisiCalc spreadsheet software were key to its success. The Apple II marked the start of Apple's rise to become the world's most successful company. Date of manufacture: 1977
The computer centre from the Sachsenwerk in Dresden is part of a system that was only shut down in 1993. It played a role in GDR computer history and a part in the success story of a major computer system. The Einheitliches System Elektronischer Rechenanlagen (standardized system of electronic computers) is the functional replica of an IBM computer: ESER 1055 is compatible with the 370/155 in terms of hardware and software alike. These computer systems were built until well into the 1980s. Date of manufacture: about 1979
Whenever computers were mentioned in the 1960s and 1970s, IBM was the name on everyone's lips. Despite this, the manufacturing giant was so slow to react that it almost missed out on the personal computer revolution, eventually launching its own PC 5150 in August 1981. The device proved an immediate hit, becoming an office mainstay. After all, it was a product of THE computer company, a fact which engendered trust among businesses that had not had any faith in the models available on the market thus far. The IBM PC, which ran with Microsoft's DOS operating system, provided the industry standard that had been lacking for so long. Date of manufacture: 1984
When Adam Osborne founded his computer firm, he was already well-known on the burgeoning home-computer scene thanks to numerous books and articles he had published. Although others before him had toyed with the idea of building a portable computer, his model, the Osborne 1, was the first on the market. Compared with today’s laptops, the Osborne 1 was extremely heavy and unwieldy. Despite this drawback, it proved a big success and almost became a cult object. Unfortunately, Osborne’s company went bankrupt in 1983. Date of manufacture: 1983
Commodore presented the C64 in 1982. Two years after its launch, four million units had already been sold, breaking all previous records for computer sales. Ultimately, a total of over 20 million C64 computers were sold throughout the world. The C64 was sometimes referred to as the “breadbox“ or even the “neck rest“ due to its shape. Date of manufacture: 1982
Motorola launched the first commercial mobile phone in 1983: the Dynatac 8000X. This bulky forebear of today's mobile phones weighed almost 750 grams and cost around $400. Date of manufacture: 1983
Apple launched the Macintosh on 24 January 1984. The Mac broke with all the previously accepted notions about PCs. When Jef Raskin, the father of the Mac, proposed the project in 1979, his idea was to design a computer that was geared to people. The Mac enabled normal users to become acquainted with the graphical user interface featuring desktop, mouse and windows. All they had to do beforehand was to unpack it and plug it in. Although the Mac lost out to the IBM PCs in the office environment, it revolutionised the entire graphic design industry. Date of manufacture: 1984
The Cray-2 was the fastest computer in the world in 1985. It weighed 2.5 tonnes. It was supplied as a supercomputer with up to four processors, a peak performance of 2 GFLOPS, 2 GB of memory and a maximum clock speed of 4.1 ns. It is notable for its striking design. A total of 27 units were sold. Date of manufacture: 1985
The Nintendo Game Boy proved to be one of the most successful products in the company’s history. The hand-held video game device was launched on the market in a plain grey-and-white version in 1989. Its robust technology, ease of operation and low battery consumption all helped to make it the biggest-selling console of the time. Although the Game Boy was initially only available with the game Tetris, strangely enough this became part of its appeal: it wasn’t just for hard-core players, but for everyone. The Game Boy was manufactured until 2002 and 120 million devices were sold in all. Date of manufacture: about 1990
The Newton was Apple’s attempt to create a revolutionary new device. A feature of the PDA (Private Digital Assistant) was handwriting recognition software; the device also came with a stylus which was supposed to make entering text child’s play. The touch-sensitive screen would detect characters and words automatically as they were written. However, this feature never really worked properly at market launch, something which gave rise to less than glowing reviews in the press. The project was halted in 1998 when company founder Steve Jobs re-joined the company. Date of manufacture: 1993
Robot soccer represents a major challenge for researchers in the field of artificial intelligence. A proving ground for the state of science in this field, it is also a means of promoting university-level education. Since 1997, international RoboCup matches featuring research teams from all over the world have been held in various leagues. This model – a third-generation, Middle Size League robot – belongs to the Fraunhofer Institut. Each robot has its own sensors and can make decisions completely autonomously. The robots can, however, communicate wirelessly with one another and with a computer. Date of manufacture: 1999
The robot dog AIBO was perhaps the most technically sophisticated toy ever to be created by its Japanese manufacturer Sony: the battery-operated dog came with 18 electrically controlled joints, microphones, loudspeakers, emotion display, 64-bit processor and a balance system to enable it to stand up. Date of manufacture: 1999
Lauron stands for “LAUfROboter Neuronal gesteuert” (English: “Walking Robot, Neural Controlled”). The walking robot (the 3rd generation of which is on show) was developed in order to research statically stable walking in rough terrain. Its movements are biologically inspired, mimicking those of a stick insect. Each leg can respond semi-autonomously to impulses; the movements are coordinated at a higher level. Lauron is able to gather information about its environment and plan a path towards a given goal autonomously. While walking, the robot uses sensors to detect potential obstacles and then either walks over or around them. Date of manufacture: 1999
Using a camera, this 2nd-generation face robot scans the viewer’s facial expression, which is then recognised and interpreted by software based on a neural net. From a repertoire of pre-programmed responses, the robot’s mechanism is activated and a matching facial expression is generated. The mechanical and electronic parts of the Mark II were covered by a silicone skin to create a robot face that looks as human as possible. Fumio Hara, Science University of Tokyo, Japan, 2001
RoboThespian is a life-sized humanoid robot designed for human interaction in public environments. It can sing as well as tell jokes and recite text passages. Visitors can choose from a selection of programmed text sequences for the metallic creation to read out, accompanied by a range of gestures. Date of manufacture: 2011
The earliest documents written on clay tablets in cuneiform script were used for tax and accounting purposes. Records were kept of the bread rations paid to workers, for example. The precise history is not known. About 2350-2100 BC
Wilhelm Schickard wanted to “mechanise” the laborious and error-prone task of calculating astronomical tables. In 1623 he had two calculating machines built to his specifications in a mechanic’s workshop in Tübingen – one for himself, the other for Johannes Kepler. The practical benefits of his “calculating clock” appeared somewhat dubious at the time, as the system based on logarithmic tables was superior. Regrettably, both machines were destroyed in a fire at the workshop and the invention was forgotten. This reconstruction of the machine by Baron von Freytag Löringhoff was completed in 1957. Date of manufacture: 1957
In 1678, French watchmaker René Grillet presented the “Machine arithmétique” which was capable of carrying out all four basic arithmetic operations. Constructed largely out of paper, the invention used so-called Napier’s rods that had been around since 1617 for the calculation process. It is an excellent example of the early days of mechanical calculation and an ancestor of today’s pocket calculator. Date of manufacture: 1678
This calculating machine, invented by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, was built in the years from 1690 to 1720. It represents a historic milestone in the development of mechanical calculating machines because it was the first to perform all four arithmetic operations. Leibniz's operating mechanism, known as the stepped cylinder or Leibniz wheel, allowed multiplication to be performed mechanically and remained an indispensable component of mechanical calculators for over 200 years. Functioning replica of the only remaining original (at the Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek in Hanover), built to plans by N. Joachim Lehmann. HNF replica: 1995
The device popularly known as the “Chess Turk“ was built in 1769 by Austrian court official Wolfgang von Kempelen in such a way as to convince spectators that they were watching an “automated chess player“. In fact an individual of quite normal size sat inside and controlled the gripper arm with the aid of levers and cable winches. Magnetised chess pieces and small magnetic pins on the underside of the board enabled the moves to be followed by the person within. Functional HNF replica: 2004
An Arithmometer is a mechanical calculating machine invented by the Frenchman Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar (1785-1870). It was the world's first calculating machine to go into series production. As well as addition and subtraction, it could perform multiplication and division by means of repeated addition and subtraction. This luxury version of the calculating machine was a gift to the king of Portugal. Date of manufacture: about 1855
The Hansen Writing Ball was the world's first typewriter to be produced commercially, albeit in small batches. It was developed in 1865 by Rasmus Johann Malling-Hansen, a Danish pastor and teacher of deaf-mutes. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a well-known user. Date of manufacture: about 1878
The name Morse and the code of the same name became synonymous with telegraphy. His procedure for transmitting text information via a series of pulses (dots and dashes) and the silences between them helped the technology achieve a breakthrough. The most important components of the Ericsson Morse Telegraph Type TA 100 for receiving messages (“sounder”) are an electromagnet, an armature, a mechanical clockwork to move the paper tape, a coloured stylus and a roll of paper. A Morse key is required to transmit messages. Date of manufacture: about 1880
In 1883, Englishman Joseph Edmondson obtained a patent for a circular calculating machine based on the stepped-drum mechanism. His design was based on Thomas de Colmar’s simple “arithmomètre”. The advantage of Edmondson’s machine was that it was not limited to a certain number of decimal places if a division produced a remainder. Date of manufacture: about 1885
This machine is a replica of the first Hollerith machine that was used so successfully to complete the first census in the USA thanks to the use of punched cards. It provided a much faster way of counting the vast amount of data gathered. The Hollerith machine consists of two hinged plates, a switch panel with relays, a counting device with 40 counters and a sorting box. When one of the pins on the plates meets a hole in the punched card, a circuit is completed and an electric pulse causes the pointer of a counter to advance accordingly. The respective compartment of the sorting box is also opened, and the operator can place the analysed punched card into it by hand. Functional HNF replica: 2006
The comptometer was the first exclusively key-driven mechanical calculator. The “wooden box” was a precursor to the full-keyboard adding machines built between 1886 and 1904. According to its manufacturer’s promotional material, it was the world’s first adding machine with a practical application. Date of manufacture: about 1900
The Underwood No. 5, which appeared in 1900, was the first classic modern typewriter (with visible text, upper- and lower-case letters and tab stops). It set the standard for all subsequent typewriters worldwide until they were superseded first by IBM electric typewriters, which used a type ball instead of type bars, and then by PCs. Date of manufacture: 1915
This extremely compact table-top telephone with a quirky design was also known as the “Pferdefuss” or “horse’s hoof” in Bavaria due to its shape. It was the approved standard dialling apparatus only in Bavaria. Incidentally, the device was referred to as the “cow’s hoof” in Prussia. Date of manufacture: from 1925 onwards
In 1879 the Ritty brothers filed a patent application for the first cash register in the USA. Businessman John H. Patterson acquired the rights to manufacture cash registers in 1884 and founded the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio. The NCR 400 series models were among the standard cash registers in use at the time. They were favoured by retail outlets because of their robust nature. Model 422 has five rows of keys and features 42 keys in all. The indicators are in English and show sums of pounds and pence. Date of manufacture: 1910
The Kryha Liliput is a very rare cipher machine in pocket-watch format. The machine consisted of two concentric rings, each featuring an alphabet and numbers. The user would operate it by pushing a lever to step the inner ring a random number of places against the outer ring, thereby changing the relationship between the two. Although Kryha’s devices were a commercial success, they were cryptographically weak as the period lengths of the codes were generally quite short. The Kryha Liliput was cryptographically compatible with its “big sister”, the Kryha Standard. Date of manufacture: about 1926
The legendary Enigma cipher machine was developed in the early 1920s by the German engineer Artur Scherbius in Berlin and initially marketed for commercial purposes. The machine has three rotors, each of which performs an alphabetic substitution cipher. By combining the rotors in series and using a plugboard with variable wiring, very complex scrambling of the message can be achieved. Date of manufacture: about 1942
The T52 e was a World War II German cipher machine and teleprinter. Due to its size and weight, however, it was only ever used as a stationary device. Unlike the Enigma, messages were encrypted and deciphered automatically. On 20 July 1944, the resistance group led by Claus von Stauffenberg used the device to issue encrypted commands for Operation Valkyrie, the plot to assassinate Hitler. Date of manufacture: 1942
The first functioning electronic computer consisted of 40 panels with almost 18,000 vacuum tubes. J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly were commissioned to construct a vacuum-tube computer by the US Army in 1943. ENIAC, which was 1,000 times faster than other calculating machines, was developed by the young scientists at the Moore School of Electronics in Philadelphia. It required just eight hours to perform calculations that had previously taken an entire year. The high processing capacity was needed by the US Army to calculate artillery firing tables. Mauchly wanted to use ENIAC’s speed to produce more accurate weather forecasts, which is why its inventors built a “universal machine“. Date of manufacture: 1946
The history of IBM in Germany dates back to 1910, with the founding of DEHOMAG (Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH) in Berlin. The company was renamed IBM Deutschland GmbH in 1949, when it relocated to Böblingen. The D 11 tabulator, which was manufactured from 1935 onwards, was the first German machine of its kind. Used for punched card analysis, its ability to read, count, compute and print cards made it the mainstay of many so-called Hollerith departments. The machine proved a milestone in the development of punched card technology: It was on sale until 1960, latterly as the IBM D11 Type 450. Around 1,100 D 11 models were sold in all. Date of manufacture: between 1949 and 1960
In the early days of telephony, calls were connected manually by a switchboard operator . The next stage of development saw the introduction of automatic telephone exchanges which dispensed with the need for human intervention. A local telephone exchange establishes connections between the subscribers of a local network. In this case, an analogue electrical signal is switched via electromechanical components. If the first digit dialled by the subscriber is a zero, he or she is put through to the trunk or long-distance exchange. The electromechanical system exhibited here was in use in Hagen-Eilpe until 1994, when it was replaced by a digital switching system.
The W48 desktop telephone was developed for the Deutsche Bundespost by Siemens & Halske in 1948 in the western zone of occupied Germany and produced in very large quantities. Date of manufacture: 1954
This is the first computer developed by Heinz Nixdorf. He started work in July 1952 and it took him 15 months to complete. The electronic balancer is equipped with vacuum tubes. It is a one-off machine built especially for materials management at Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), where it supplemented the work of a Remington Rand tabulating machine, whose mechanical mode of operation was no match for the much faster Nixdorf electronics. Date of manufacture: 1953
The accounting machine Exacta-Continental 6000 was the ultimate in electromechanical office equipment: it could manage all accounting tasks with ease. It came with an optional Multitronic electronic multiplication unit manufactured by Heinz Nixdorf’s Labor für Impulstechnik, which signalled the beginning of a new data processing era from 1958 onwards. Date of manufacture: about 1958
The Zuse Z 11 was the first programmable relay computer from ZUSE KG to go into series production. It was used for mathematical calculations, its hard-wired programs having been designed for surveying tasks in particular. The last in a development series of electro-mechanically controlled computer systems, it contained relays as binary switching elements. These may have been slower than vacuum tubes, but were also more reliable, more durable and less expensive. Date of manufacture: 1958
The Curta is the only mechanical pocket calculator that is capable of performing all four basic arithmetic operations. The inventor of this precision-engineered masterpiece was an Austrian, Curt Herzstark (1902-1988). Date of manufacture: about 1965
The Anita was the first all-electronic, tube-based desktop calculator. Not only was it completely silent, but it operated much faster than mechanical machines, and was maintenance-free too. However, tubes were not an optimum technical solution for desktop calculators as they used a lot of electricity, were relatively susceptible to breakage and were expensive to produce. For this reason, this technology remained unique to the Anita. Mass production of such devices only became an option once transistors started to be used from around 1964 onwards. Date of manufacture: 1961
The linotype machine was a “line casting” machine used in printing. It replaced the extremely time-consuming manual type-setting process. The machine, which was patented in 1886, mechanised the setting and casting of letters. The setter entered text at a keyboard: every time a key was pressed, a matrix of the chosen letter fell into position from a magazine. The assembled line of matrices was cast as a single piece of type metal and filled with liquid lead once the spaces between words had been automatically adjusted. After cooling, this produced “A LINE OF TYPES”. Date of manufacture: 1962
At the start of the 1950s, VEB Optima Büromaschinenwerk Erfurt was asked to develop a typewriter for China as part of e socialist initiative to support allied nations. The Erfurt manufacturers based their design on the box-type typewriter first sold in 1917 by Nippon Typewriter Co. Ltd. in Tokyo. The “Chinese Optima” made its début in 1953. Subsequently, the Chinese bicycle factory “Flying Dove” took over production of the device, two versions of which were produced in China under the “Flying Dove” brand until the end of 1992. Date of manufacture: 1992
This computer originated from the Gemini II mission; it featured in an unmanned space flight on 19.01.1965. The Mercury and Gemini space programmes laid the groundwork for the moon landing. From 1963 onwards, the Gemini missions tested orbital coupling manoeuvres necessary to achieve rendezvous and docking. Safe, accurate manoeuvring was only possible with the aid of a computer. IBM’s commission to develop the on-board computer was worth $26.6 million. It was the first computer to have a magnetic core memory so that data was not destroyed when read out. It was also IBM’s first computer to be fully transistorised. The computer proved reliable in operation. Date of manufacture: about 1964
In 1965, the Digital Equipment Corporation presented the PDP-8, thereby marking the beginning of the mini-computer era. Priced at just 18,200 Dollars, this general-purpose computer was robust enough to be used in both production and laboratory environments. Some 10,000 of them were sold within the space of 10 years; by 1975, the PDP-8 cost just 2,600 Dollars. A whole variety of manufacturers tapped into the new market, building computers based on the PDP-8 for use in process and manufacturing technology and for controlling experiments in research. By 1975, more than 30 companies in the West German market alone were selling mini-computers. Date of manufacture: 1965
In 1964, Nixdorf developed the electronics for a desk-top calculator produced by office equipment manufacturer Wanderer, later building the components itself under licence. The “Wanderer Conti” was presented to the public for the first time in 1965 at the Hanover Trade Fair. It was the world’s first fully electronic desk-top calculator with printing output. In terms of design, the four-species calculator was a bona fide computer, boasting an arithmetic unit, a magnetic core memory, a printer and a threaded read-only memory (ROM). The Conti enabled Nixdorf to gain a foothold in the US market when the Chicago-based Victor Comptometer Corporation placed an order worth DM 100 million for the machine in 1968. Date of manufacture: 1966
The Olivetti Valentine is a mechanical typewriter that stands out largely by virtue of its unconventional appearance. It is regarded as a milestone in industrial design and is a sought-after collector’s item. Date of manufacture: early 1970s
The great success enjoyed by Nixdorf at the end of the 1960s and start of the 1970s was based largely on the computers of the 820 series. These were universal computers for companies of all sizes and could be used for almost any application area thanks to their modular construction and consistent application of the modular design system. Date of manufacture: 1974
Canon Canola Pocketronic, Sanyo ICC-82D, Sharp EL-8: The first battery-operated electronic pocket calculators were brought out virtually simultaneously in 1970 by Japanese firms Sanyo, Sharp and Canon. However, the "heart" of these first pocket calculators – the microchip – was produced by US companies such as Texas Instruments and Rockwell. Texas Instruments had developed the first portable prototype as early as 1967. But the Cal-Tech, as it was known, was merely supposed to demonstrate the power of the new chip and never went into series production. The huge sales potential of the pocket calculator had yet to be recognised, especially since it was still too expensive to produce. It was for this reason that Texas Instruments sold the technical design of the Cal-Tech to Canon, and only brought out its own pocket calculator in 1972. Date of manufacture: 1970
The Odyssey console laid the foundations for the video game era. In 1966 Ralph Baer, a US engineer of German descent, filed a patent for a kind of ping-pong game. This was ultimately granted in 1968. It was not until 1972 that the game was distributed with a gaming console by Magnavox. Poor marketing meant that although the video game wasn’t a commercial flop, it wasn’t a resounding financial success either. Date of manufacture: 1972
The HP-35 was the world's first scientific pocket calculator. Before it came along, slide rules and logarithm tables were required for trigonometric and exponential functions. Pocket calculators were only capable of the four basic arithmetic operations. The price for an HP-35 in 1972 was about DM 2,000. Date of manufacture: 1972
In 1970, the photocopier company Xerox founded a research centre in Palo Alto known as PARC. This is where the Xerox Alto was developed, a forerunner of much of the PC technology taken for granted today. The Alto had a graphical user interface and a mouse, and was the model on which first the Macintosh, then Windows were based. It was also fully network-capable: the Ethernet was another Xerox PARC invention. Many Alto system engineers later worked on the Apple Macintosh. Only around 1,000 examples of the Alto were built; it was a prototype and was never launched on the market. Date of manufacture: 1973
The January 1975 issue of the magazine Popular Electronics featured the forerunner of the first personal computer, the Altair 8800, which had been designed by Ed Roberts and his company MITS. It was available as a kit for 397 US dollars, making it the first computer that ordinary consumers could afford and marking the advent of widespread PC use. Incidentally, the Altair's name comes from a TV series. The twelve-year-old daughter of editor Les Solomon said: “Call it Altair. That's where the Enterprise is heading tonight.“ Date of manufacture: 1975
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple on 1 April 1976. Soon afterwards, they presented their first computer: the Apple I. A total of only 200 Apple I computers were made. Jobs and Wozniak built it in Jobs's parents' garage in Los Altos, California and sold it for $666. The Apple I was actually just a circuit board. Users had to make their own housing for it and add input and output devices themselves. There are still around 70 Apple I computers in existence worldwide. Date of manufacture: 1976
The Apple II was the first “personal“ desktop computer to achieve commercial success. In contrast to the Apple I, the main board was supplied in a plastic housing together with a keyboard, a monitor and software.  The Apple Writer word processor and VisiCalc spreadsheet software were key to its success. The Apple II marked the start of Apple's rise to become the world's most successful company. Date of manufacture: 1977
The computer centre from the Sachsenwerk in Dresden is part of a system that was only shut down in 1993. It played a role in GDR computer history and a part in the success story of a major computer system. The Einheitliches System Elektronischer Rechenanlagen (standardized system of electronic computers) is the functional replica of an IBM computer: ESER 1055 is compatible with the 370/155 in terms of hardware and software alike. These computer systems were built until well into the 1980s. Date of manufacture: about 1979
Whenever computers were mentioned in the 1960s and 1970s, IBM was the name on everyone's lips. Despite this, the manufacturing giant was so slow to react that it almost missed out on the personal computer revolution, eventually launching its own PC 5150 in August 1981. The device proved an immediate hit, becoming an office mainstay. After all, it was a product of THE computer company, a fact which engendered trust among businesses that had not had any faith in the models available on the market thus far. The IBM PC, which ran with Microsoft's DOS operating system, provided the industry standard that had been lacking for so long. Date of manufacture: 1984
When Adam Osborne founded his computer firm, he was already well-known on the burgeoning home-computer scene thanks to numerous books and articles he had published. Although others before him had toyed with the idea of building a portable computer, his model, the Osborne 1, was the first on the market. Compared with today’s laptops, the Osborne 1 was extremely heavy and unwieldy. Despite this drawback, it proved a big success and almost became a cult object. Unfortunately, Osborne’s company went bankrupt in 1983. Date of manufacture: 1983
Commodore presented the C64 in 1982. Two years after its launch, four million units had already been sold, breaking all previous records for computer sales. Ultimately, a total of over 20 million C64 computers were sold throughout the world. The C64 was sometimes referred to as the “breadbox“ or even the “neck rest“ due to its shape. Date of manufacture: 1982
Motorola launched the first commercial mobile phone in 1983: the Dynatac 8000X. This bulky forebear of today's mobile phones weighed almost 750 grams and cost around $400. Date of manufacture: 1983
Apple launched the Macintosh on 24 January 1984. The Mac broke with all the previously accepted notions about PCs. When Jef Raskin, the father of the Mac, proposed the project in 1979, his idea was to design a computer that was geared to people. The Mac enabled normal users to become acquainted with the graphical user interface featuring desktop, mouse and windows. All they had to do beforehand was to unpack it and plug it in. Although the Mac lost out to the IBM PCs in the office environment, it revolutionised the entire graphic design industry. Date of manufacture: 1984
The Cray-2 was the fastest computer in the world in 1985. It weighed 2.5 tonnes. It was supplied as a supercomputer with up to four processors, a peak performance of 2 GFLOPS, 2 GB of memory and a maximum clock speed of 4.1 ns. It is notable for its striking design. A total of 27 units were sold. Date of manufacture: 1985
The Nintendo Game Boy proved to be one of the most successful products in the company’s history. The hand-held video game device was launched on the market in a plain grey-and-white version in 1989. Its robust technology, ease of operation and low battery consumption all helped to make it the biggest-selling console of the time. Although the Game Boy was initially only available with the game Tetris, strangely enough this became part of its appeal: it wasn’t just for hard-core players, but for everyone. The Game Boy was manufactured until 2002 and 120 million devices were sold in all. Date of manufacture: about 1990
The Newton was Apple’s attempt to create a revolutionary new device. A feature of the PDA (Private Digital Assistant) was handwriting recognition software; the device also came with a stylus which was supposed to make entering text child’s play. The touch-sensitive screen would detect characters and words automatically as they were written. However, this feature never really worked properly at market launch, something which gave rise to less than glowing reviews in the press. The project was halted in 1998 when company founder Steve Jobs re-joined the company. Date of manufacture: 1993
Robot soccer represents a major challenge for researchers in the field of artificial intelligence. A proving ground for the state of science in this field, it is also a means of promoting university-level education. Since 1997, international RoboCup matches featuring research teams from all over the world have been held in various leagues. This model – a third-generation, Middle Size League robot – belongs to the Fraunhofer Institut. Each robot has its own sensors and can make decisions completely autonomously. The robots can, however, communicate wirelessly with one another and with a computer. Date of manufacture: 1999
The robot dog AIBO was perhaps the most technically sophisticated toy ever to be created by its Japanese manufacturer Sony: the battery-operated dog came with 18 electrically controlled joints, microphones, loudspeakers, emotion display, 64-bit processor and a balance system to enable it to stand up. Date of manufacture: 1999
Lauron stands for “LAUfROboter Neuronal gesteuert” (English: “Walking Robot, Neural Controlled”). The walking robot (the 3rd generation of which is on show) was developed in order to research statically stable walking in rough terrain. Its movements are biologically inspired, mimicking those of a stick insect. Each leg can respond semi-autonomously to impulses; the movements are coordinated at a higher level. Lauron is able to gather information about its environment and plan a path towards a given goal autonomously. While walking, the robot uses sensors to detect potential obstacles and then either walks over or around them. Date of manufacture: 1999
Using a camera, this 2nd-generation face robot scans the viewer’s facial expression, which is then recognised and interpreted by software based on a neural net. From a repertoire of pre-programmed responses, the robot’s mechanism is activated and a matching facial expression is generated. The mechanical and electronic parts of the Mark II were covered by a silicone skin to create a robot face that looks as human as possible. Fumio Hara, Science University of Tokyo, Japan, 2001
RoboThespian is a life-sized humanoid robot designed for human interaction in public environments. It can sing as well as tell jokes and recite text passages. Visitors can choose from a selection of programmed text sequences for the metallic creation to read out, accompanied by a range of gestures. Date of manufacture: 2011
The earliest documents written on clay tablets in cuneiform script were used for tax and accounting purposes. Records were kept of the bread rations paid to workers, for example. The precise history is not known. About 2350-2100 BC
Wilhelm Schickard wanted to “mechanise” the laborious and error-prone task of calculating astronomical tables. In 1623 he had two calculating machines built to his specifications in a mechanic’s workshop in Tübingen – one for himself, the other for Johannes Kepler. The practical benefits of his “calculating clock” appeared somewhat dubious at the time, as the system based on logarithmic tables was superior. Regrettably, both machines were destroyed in a fire at the workshop and the invention was forgotten. This reconstruction of the machine by Baron von Freytag Löringhoff was completed in 1957. Date of manufacture: 1957
In 1678, French watchmaker René Grillet presented the “Machine arithmétique” which was capable of carrying out all four basic arithmetic operations. Constructed largely out of paper, the invention used so-called Napier’s rods that had been around since 1617 for the calculation process. It is an excellent example of the early days of mechanical calculation and an ancestor of today’s pocket calculator. Date of manufacture: 1678
This calculating machine, invented by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, was built in the years from 1690 to 1720. It represents a historic milestone in the development of mechanical calculating machines because it was the first to perform all four arithmetic operations. Leibniz's operating mechanism, known as the stepped cylinder or Leibniz wheel, allowed multiplication to be performed mechanically and remained an indispensable component of mechanical calculators for over 200 years. Functioning replica of the only remaining original (at the Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek in Hanover), built to plans by N. Joachim Lehmann. HNF replica: 1995
The device popularly known as the “Chess Turk“ was built in 1769 by Austrian court official Wolfgang von Kempelen in such a way as to convince spectators that they were watching an “automated chess player“. In fact an individual of quite normal size sat inside and controlled the gripper arm with the aid of levers and cable winches. Magnetised chess pieces and small magnetic pins on the underside of the board enabled the moves to be followed by the person within. Functional HNF replica: 2004
An Arithmometer is a mechanical calculating machine invented by the Frenchman Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar (1785-1870). It was the world's first calculating machine to go into series production. As well as addition and subtraction, it could perform multiplication and division by means of repeated addition and subtraction. This luxury version of the calculating machine was a gift to the king of Portugal. Date of manufacture: about 1855
The Hansen Writing Ball was the world's first typewriter to be produced commercially, albeit in small batches. It was developed in 1865 by Rasmus Johann Malling-Hansen, a Danish pastor and teacher of deaf-mutes. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a well-known user. Date of manufacture: about 1878
The name Morse and the code of the same name became synonymous with telegraphy. His procedure for transmitting text information via a series of pulses (dots and dashes) and the silences between them helped the technology achieve a breakthrough. The most important components of the Ericsson Morse Telegraph Type TA 100 for receiving messages (“sounder”) are an electromagnet, an armature, a mechanical clockwork to move the paper tape, a coloured stylus and a roll of paper. A Morse key is required to transmit messages. Date of manufacture: about 1880
In 1883, Englishman Joseph Edmondson obtained a patent for a circular calculating machine based on the stepped-drum mechanism. His design was based on Thomas de Colmar’s simple “arithmomètre”. The advantage of Edmondson’s machine was that it was not limited to a certain number of decimal places if a division produced a remainder. Date of manufacture: about 1885
This machine is a replica of the first Hollerith machine that was used so successfully to complete the first census in the USA thanks to the use of punched cards. It provided a much faster way of counting the vast amount of data gathered. The Hollerith machine consists of two hinged plates, a switch panel with relays, a counting device with 40 counters and a sorting box. When one of the pins on the plates meets a hole in the punched card, a circuit is completed and an electric pulse causes the pointer of a counter to advance accordingly. The respective compartment of the sorting box is also opened, and the operator can place the analysed punched card into it by hand. Functional HNF replica: 2006
The comptometer was the first exclusively key-driven mechanical calculator. The “wooden box” was a precursor to the full-keyboard adding machines built between 1886 and 1904. According to its manufacturer’s promotional material, it was the world’s first adding machine with a practical application. Date of manufacture: about 1900
The Underwood No. 5, which appeared in 1900, was the first classic modern typewriter (with visible text, upper- and lower-case letters and tab stops). It set the standard for all subsequent typewriters worldwide until they were superseded first by IBM electric typewriters, which used a type ball instead of type bars, and then by PCs. Date of manufacture: 1915
This extremely compact table-top telephone with a quirky design was also known as the “Pferdefuss” or “horse’s hoof” in Bavaria due to its shape. It was the approved standard dialling apparatus only in Bavaria. Incidentally, the device was referred to as the “cow’s hoof” in Prussia. Date of manufacture: from 1925 onwards
In 1879 the Ritty brothers filed a patent application for the first cash register in the USA. Businessman John H. Patterson acquired the rights to manufacture cash registers in 1884 and founded the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio. The NCR 400 series models were among the standard cash registers in use at the time. They were favoured by retail outlets because of their robust nature. Model 422 has five rows of keys and features 42 keys in all. The indicators are in English and show sums of pounds and pence. Date of manufacture: 1910
The Kryha Liliput is a very rare cipher machine in pocket-watch format. The machine consisted of two concentric rings, each featuring an alphabet and numbers. The user would operate it by pushing a lever to step the inner ring a random number of places against the outer ring, thereby changing the relationship between the two. Although Kryha’s devices were a commercial success, they were cryptographically weak as the period lengths of the codes were generally quite short. The Kryha Liliput was cryptographically compatible with its “big sister”, the Kryha Standard. Date of manufacture: about 1926
The legendary Enigma cipher machine was developed in the early 1920s by the German engineer Artur Scherbius in Berlin and initially marketed for commercial purposes. The machine has three rotors, each of which performs an alphabetic substitution cipher. By combining the rotors in series and using a plugboard with variable wiring, very complex scrambling of the message can be achieved. Date of manufacture: about 1942
The T52 e was a World War II German cipher machine and teleprinter. Due to its size and weight, however, it was only ever used as a stationary device. Unlike the Enigma, messages were encrypted and deciphered automatically. On 20 July 1944, the resistance group led by Claus von Stauffenberg used the device to issue encrypted commands for Operation Valkyrie, the plot to assassinate Hitler. Date of manufacture: 1942
The first functioning electronic computer consisted of 40 panels with almost 18,000 vacuum tubes. J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly were commissioned to construct a vacuum-tube computer by the US Army in 1943. ENIAC, which was 1,000 times faster than other calculating machines, was developed by the young scientists at the Moore School of Electronics in Philadelphia. It required just eight hours to perform calculations that had previously taken an entire year. The high processing capacity was needed by the US Army to calculate artillery firing tables. Mauchly wanted to use ENIAC’s speed to produce more accurate weather forecasts, which is why its inventors built a “universal machine“. Date of manufacture: 1946
The history of IBM in Germany dates back to 1910, with the founding of DEHOMAG (Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH) in Berlin. The company was renamed IBM Deutschland GmbH in 1949, when it relocated to Böblingen. The D 11 tabulator, which was manufactured from 1935 onwards, was the first German machine of its kind. Used for punched card analysis, its ability to read, count, compute and print cards made it the mainstay of many so-called Hollerith departments. The machine proved a milestone in the development of punched card technology: It was on sale until 1960, latterly as the IBM D11 Type 450. Around 1,100 D 11 models were sold in all. Date of manufacture: between 1949 and 1960
In the early days of telephony, calls were connected manually by a switchboard operator . The next stage of development saw the introduction of automatic telephone exchanges which dispensed with the need for human intervention. A local telephone exchange establishes connections between the subscribers of a local network. In this case, an analogue electrical signal is switched via electromechanical components. If the first digit dialled by the subscriber is a zero, he or she is put through to the trunk or long-distance exchange. The electromechanical system exhibited here was in use in Hagen-Eilpe until 1994, when it was replaced by a digital switching system.
The W48 desktop telephone was developed for the Deutsche Bundespost by Siemens & Halske in 1948 in the western zone of occupied Germany and produced in very large quantities. Date of manufacture: 1954
This is the first computer developed by Heinz Nixdorf. He started work in July 1952 and it took him 15 months to complete. The electronic balancer is equipped with vacuum tubes. It is a one-off machine built especially for materials management at Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), where it supplemented the work of a Remington Rand tabulating machine, whose mechanical mode of operation was no match for the much faster Nixdorf electronics. Date of manufacture: 1953
The accounting machine Exacta-Continental 6000 was the ultimate in electromechanical office equipment: it could manage all accounting tasks with ease. It came with an optional Multitronic electronic multiplication unit manufactured by Heinz Nixdorf’s Labor für Impulstechnik, which signalled the beginning of a new data processing era from 1958 onwards. Date of manufacture: about 1958
The Zuse Z 11 was the first programmable relay computer from ZUSE KG to go into series production. It was used for mathematical calculations, its hard-wired programs having been designed for surveying tasks in particular. The last in a development series of electro-mechanically controlled computer systems, it contained relays as binary switching elements. These may have been slower than vacuum tubes, but were also more reliable, more durable and less expensive. Date of manufacture: 1958
The Curta is the only mechanical pocket calculator that is capable of performing all four basic arithmetic operations. The inventor of this precision-engineered masterpiece was an Austrian, Curt Herzstark (1902-1988). Date of manufacture: about 1965
The Anita was the first all-electronic, tube-based desktop calculator. Not only was it completely silent, but it operated much faster than mechanical machines, and was maintenance-free too. However, tubes were not an optimum technical solution for desktop calculators as they used a lot of electricity, were relatively susceptible to breakage and were expensive to produce. For this reason, this technology remained unique to the Anita. Mass production of such devices only became an option once transistors started to be used from around 1964 onwards. Date of manufacture: 1961
The linotype machine was a “line casting” machine used in printing. It replaced the extremely time-consuming manual type-setting process. The machine, which was patented in 1886, mechanised the setting and casting of letters. The setter entered text at a keyboard: every time a key was pressed, a matrix of the chosen letter fell into position from a magazine. The assembled line of matrices was cast as a single piece of type metal and filled with liquid lead once the spaces between words had been automatically adjusted. After cooling, this produced “A LINE OF TYPES”. Date of manufacture: 1962
At the start of the 1950s, VEB Optima Büromaschinenwerk Erfurt was asked to develop a typewriter for China as part of e socialist initiative to support allied nations. The Erfurt manufacturers based their design on the box-type typewriter first sold in 1917 by Nippon Typewriter Co. Ltd. in Tokyo. The “Chinese Optima” made its début in 1953. Subsequently, the Chinese bicycle factory “Flying Dove” took over production of the device, two versions of which were produced in China under the “Flying Dove” brand until the end of 1992. Date of manufacture: 1992
This computer originated from the Gemini II mission; it featured in an unmanned space flight on 19.01.1965. The Mercury and Gemini space programmes laid the groundwork for the moon landing. From 1963 onwards, the Gemini missions tested orbital coupling manoeuvres necessary to achieve rendezvous and docking. Safe, accurate manoeuvring was only possible with the aid of a computer. IBM’s commission to develop the on-board computer was worth $26.6 million. It was the first computer to have a magnetic core memory so that data was not destroyed when read out. It was also IBM’s first computer to be fully transistorised. The computer proved reliable in operation. Date of manufacture: about 1964
In 1965, the Digital Equipment Corporation presented the PDP-8, thereby marking the beginning of the mini-computer era. Priced at just 18,200 Dollars, this general-purpose computer was robust enough to be used in both production and laboratory environments. Some 10,000 of them were sold within the space of 10 years; by 1975, the PDP-8 cost just 2,600 Dollars. A whole variety of manufacturers tapped into the new market, building computers based on the PDP-8 for use in process and manufacturing technology and for controlling experiments in research. By 1975, more than 30 companies in the West German market alone were selling mini-computers. Date of manufacture: 1965
In 1964, Nixdorf developed the electronics for a desk-top calculator produced by office equipment manufacturer Wanderer, later building the components itself under licence. The “Wanderer Conti” was presented to the public for the first time in 1965 at the Hanover Trade Fair. It was the world’s first fully electronic desk-top calculator with printing output. In terms of design, the four-species calculator was a bona fide computer, boasting an arithmetic unit, a magnetic core memory, a printer and a threaded read-only memory (ROM). The Conti enabled Nixdorf to gain a foothold in the US market when the Chicago-based Victor Comptometer Corporation placed an order worth DM 100 million for the machine in 1968. Date of manufacture: 1966
The Olivetti Valentine is a mechanical typewriter that stands out largely by virtue of its unconventional appearance. It is regarded as a milestone in industrial design and is a sought-after collector’s item. Date of manufacture: early 1970s
The great success enjoyed by Nixdorf at the end of the 1960s and start of the 1970s was based largely on the computers of the 820 series. These were universal computers for companies of all sizes and could be used for almost any application area thanks to their modular construction and consistent application of the modular design system. Date of manufacture: 1974
Canon Canola Pocketronic, Sanyo ICC-82D, Sharp EL-8: The first battery-operated electronic pocket calculators were brought out virtually simultaneously in 1970 by Japanese firms Sanyo, Sharp and Canon. However, the "heart" of these first pocket calculators – the microchip – was produced by US companies such as Texas Instruments and Rockwell. Texas Instruments had developed the first portable prototype as early as 1967. But the Cal-Tech, as it was known, was merely supposed to demonstrate the power of the new chip and never went into series production. The huge sales potential of the pocket calculator had yet to be recognised, especially since it was still too expensive to produce. It was for this reason that Texas Instruments sold the technical design of the Cal-Tech to Canon, and only brought out its own pocket calculator in 1972. Date of manufacture: 1970
The Odyssey console laid the foundations for the video game era. In 1966 Ralph Baer, a US engineer of German descent, filed a patent for a kind of ping-pong game. This was ultimately granted in 1968. It was not until 1972 that the game was distributed with a gaming console by Magnavox. Poor marketing meant that although the video game wasn’t a commercial flop, it wasn’t a resounding financial success either. Date of manufacture: 1972
The HP-35 was the world's first scientific pocket calculator. Before it came along, slide rules and logarithm tables were required for trigonometric and exponential functions. Pocket calculators were only capable of the four basic arithmetic operations. The price for an HP-35 in 1972 was about DM 2,000. Date of manufacture: 1972
In 1970, the photocopier company Xerox founded a research centre in Palo Alto known as PARC. This is where the Xerox Alto was developed, a forerunner of much of the PC technology taken for granted today. The Alto had a graphical user interface and a mouse, and was the model on which first the Macintosh, then Windows were based. It was also fully network-capable: the Ethernet was another Xerox PARC invention. Many Alto system engineers later worked on the Apple Macintosh. Only around 1,000 examples of the Alto were built; it was a prototype and was never launched on the market. Date of manufacture: 1973
The January 1975 issue of the magazine Popular Electronics featured the forerunner of the first personal computer, the Altair 8800, which had been designed by Ed Roberts and his company MITS. It was available as a kit for 397 US dollars, making it the first computer that ordinary consumers could afford and marking the advent of widespread PC use. Incidentally, the Altair's name comes from a TV series. The twelve-year-old daughter of editor Les Solomon said: “Call it Altair. That's where the Enterprise is heading tonight.“ Date of manufacture: 1975
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple on 1 April 1976. Soon afterwards, they presented their first computer: the Apple I. A total of only 200 Apple I computers were made. Jobs and Wozniak built it in Jobs's parents' garage in Los Altos, California and sold it for $666. The Apple I was actually just a circuit board. Users had to make their own housing for it and add input and output devices themselves. There are still around 70 Apple I computers in existence worldwide. Date of manufacture: 1976
The Apple II was the first “personal“ desktop computer to achieve commercial success. In contrast to the Apple I, the main board was supplied in a plastic housing together with a keyboard, a monitor and software.  The Apple Writer word processor and VisiCalc spreadsheet software were key to its success. The Apple II marked the start of Apple's rise to become the world's most successful company. Date of manufacture: 1977
The computer centre from the Sachsenwerk in Dresden is part of a system that was only shut down in 1993. It played a role in GDR computer history and a part in the success story of a major computer system. The Einheitliches System Elektronischer Rechenanlagen (standardized system of electronic computers) is the functional replica of an IBM computer: ESER 1055 is compatible with the 370/155 in terms of hardware and software alike. These computer systems were built until well into the 1980s. Date of manufacture: about 1979
Whenever computers were mentioned in the 1960s and 1970s, IBM was the name on everyone's lips. Despite this, the manufacturing giant was so slow to react that it almost missed out on the personal computer revolution, eventually launching its own PC 5150 in August 1981. The device proved an immediate hit, becoming an office mainstay. After all, it was a product of THE computer company, a fact which engendered trust among businesses that had not had any faith in the models available on the market thus far. The IBM PC, which ran with Microsoft's DOS operating system, provided the industry standard that had been lacking for so long. Date of manufacture: 1984
When Adam Osborne founded his computer firm, he was already well-known on the burgeoning home-computer scene thanks to numerous books and articles he had published. Although others before him had toyed with the idea of building a portable computer, his model, the Osborne 1, was the first on the market. Compared with today’s laptops, the Osborne 1 was extremely heavy and unwieldy. Despite this drawback, it proved a big success and almost became a cult object. Unfortunately, Osborne’s company went bankrupt in 1983. Date of manufacture: 1983
Commodore presented the C64 in 1982. Two years after its launch, four million units had already been sold, breaking all previous records for computer sales. Ultimately, a total of over 20 million C64 computers were sold throughout the world. The C64 was sometimes referred to as the “breadbox“ or even the “neck rest“ due to its shape. Date of manufacture: 1982
Motorola launched the first commercial mobile phone in 1983: the Dynatac 8000X. This bulky forebear of today's mobile phones weighed almost 750 grams and cost around $400. Date of manufacture: 1983
Apple launched the Macintosh on 24 January 1984. The Mac broke with all the previously accepted notions about PCs. When Jef Raskin, the father of the Mac, proposed the project in 1979, his idea was to design a computer that was geared to people. The Mac enabled normal users to become acquainted with the graphical user interface featuring desktop, mouse and windows. All they had to do beforehand was to unpack it and plug it in. Although the Mac lost out to the IBM PCs in the office environment, it revolutionised the entire graphic design industry. Date of manufacture: 1984
The Cray-2 was the fastest computer in the world in 1985. It weighed 2.5 tonnes. It was supplied as a supercomputer with up to four processors, a peak performance of 2 GFLOPS, 2 GB of memory and a maximum clock speed of 4.1 ns. It is notable for its striking design. A total of 27 units were sold. Date of manufacture: 1985
The Nintendo Game Boy proved to be one of the most successful products in the company’s history. The hand-held video game device was launched on the market in a plain grey-and-white version in 1989. Its robust technology, ease of operation and low battery consumption all helped to make it the biggest-selling console of the time. Although the Game Boy was initially only available with the game Tetris, strangely enough this became part of its appeal: it wasn’t just for hard-core players, but for everyone. The Game Boy was manufactured until 2002 and 120 million devices were sold in all. Date of manufacture: about 1990
The Newton was Apple’s attempt to create a revolutionary new device. A feature of the PDA (Private Digital Assistant) was handwriting recognition software; the device also came with a stylus which was supposed to make entering text child’s play. The touch-sensitive screen would detect characters and words automatically as they were written. However, this feature never really worked properly at market launch, something which gave rise to less than glowing reviews in the press. The project was halted in 1998 when company founder Steve Jobs re-joined the company. Date of manufacture: 1993
Robot soccer represents a major challenge for researchers in the field of artificial intelligence. A proving ground for the state of science in this field, it is also a means of promoting university-level education. Since 1997, international RoboCup matches featuring research teams from all over the world have been held in various leagues. This model – a third-generation, Middle Size League robot – belongs to the Fraunhofer Institut. Each robot has its own sensors and can make decisions completely autonomously. The robots can, however, communicate wirelessly with one another and with a computer. Date of manufacture: 1999
The robot dog AIBO was perhaps the most technically sophisticated toy ever to be created by its Japanese manufacturer Sony: the battery-operated dog came with 18 electrically controlled joints, microphones, loudspeakers, emotion display, 64-bit processor and a balance system to enable it to stand up. Date of manufacture: 1999
Lauron stands for “LAUfROboter Neuronal gesteuert” (English: “Walking Robot, Neural Controlled”). The walking robot (the 3rd generation of which is on show) was developed in order to research statically stable walking in rough terrain. Its movements are biologically inspired, mimicking those of a stick insect. Each leg can respond semi-autonomously to impulses; the movements are coordinated at a higher level. Lauron is able to gather information about its environment and plan a path towards a given goal autonomously. While walking, the robot uses sensors to detect potential obstacles and then either walks over or around them. Date of manufacture: 1999
Using a camera, this 2nd-generation face robot scans the viewer’s facial expression, which is then recognised and interpreted by software based on a neural net. From a repertoire of pre-programmed responses, the robot’s mechanism is activated and a matching facial expression is generated. The mechanical and electronic parts of the Mark II were covered by a silicone skin to create a robot face that looks as human as possible. Fumio Hara, Science University of Tokyo, Japan, 2001
RoboThespian is a life-sized humanoid robot designed for human interaction in public environments. It can sing as well as tell jokes and recite text passages. Visitors can choose from a selection of programmed text sequences for the metallic creation to read out, accompanied by a range of gestures. Date of manufacture: 2011
The earliest documents written on clay tablets in cuneiform script were used for tax and accounting purposes. Records were kept of the bread rations paid to workers, for example. The precise history is not known. About 2350-2100 BC
Wilhelm Schickard wanted to “mechanise” the laborious and error-prone task of calculating astronomical tables. In 1623 he had two calculating machines built to his specifications in a mechanic’s workshop in Tübingen – one for himself, the other for Johannes Kepler. The practical benefits of his “calculating clock” appeared somewhat dubious at the time, as the system based on logarithmic tables was superior. Regrettably, both machines were destroyed in a fire at the workshop and the invention was forgotten. This reconstruction of the machine by Baron von Freytag Löringhoff was completed in 1957. Date of manufacture: 1957
In 1678, French watchmaker René Grillet presented the “Machine arithmétique” which was capable of carrying out all four basic arithmetic operations. Constructed largely out of paper, the invention used so-called Napier’s rods that had been around since 1617 for the calculation process. It is an excellent example of the early days of mechanical calculation and an ancestor of today’s pocket calculator. Date of manufacture: 1678
This calculating machine, invented by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, was built in the years from 1690 to 1720. It represents a historic milestone in the development of mechanical calculating machines because it was the first to perform all four arithmetic operations. Leibniz's operating mechanism, known as the stepped cylinder or Leibniz wheel, allowed multiplication to be performed mechanically and remained an indispensable component of mechanical calculators for over 200 years. Functioning replica of the only remaining original (at the Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek in Hanover), built to plans by N. Joachim Lehmann. HNF replica: 1995
The device popularly known as the “Chess Turk“ was built in 1769 by Austrian court official Wolfgang von Kempelen in such a way as to convince spectators that they were watching an “automated chess player“. In fact an individual of quite normal size sat inside and controlled the gripper arm with the aid of levers and cable winches. Magnetised chess pieces and small magnetic pins on the underside of the board enabled the moves to be followed by the person within. Functional HNF replica: 2004
An Arithmometer is a mechanical calculating machine invented by the Frenchman Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar (1785-1870). It was the world's first calculating machine to go into series production. As well as addition and subtraction, it could perform multiplication and division by means of repeated addition and subtraction. This luxury version of the calculating machine was a gift to the king of Portugal. Date of manufacture: about 1855
The Hansen Writing Ball was the world's first typewriter to be produced commercially, albeit in small batches. It was developed in 1865 by Rasmus Johann Malling-Hansen, a Danish pastor and teacher of deaf-mutes. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a well-known user. Date of manufacture: about 1878
The name Morse and the code of the same name became synonymous with telegraphy. His procedure for transmitting text information via a series of pulses (dots and dashes) and the silences between them helped the technology achieve a breakthrough. The most important components of the Ericsson Morse Telegraph Type TA 100 for receiving messages (“sounder”) are an electromagnet, an armature, a mechanical clockwork to move the paper tape, a coloured stylus and a roll of paper. A Morse key is required to transmit messages. Date of manufacture: about 1880
In 1883, Englishman Joseph Edmondson obtained a patent for a circular calculating machine based on the stepped-drum mechanism. His design was based on Thomas de Colmar’s simple “arithmomètre”. The advantage of Edmondson’s machine was that it was not limited to a certain number of decimal places if a division produced a remainder. Date of manufacture: about 1885
This machine is a replica of the first Hollerith machine that was used so successfully to complete the first census in the USA thanks to the use of punched cards. It provided a much faster way of counting the vast amount of data gathered. The Hollerith machine consists of two hinged plates, a switch panel with relays, a counting device with 40 counters and a sorting box. When one of the pins on the plates meets a hole in the punched card, a circuit is completed and an electric pulse causes the pointer of a counter to advance accordingly. The respective compartment of the sorting box is also opened, and the operator can place the analysed punched card into it by hand. Functional HNF replica: 2006
The comptometer was the first exclusively key-driven mechanical calculator. The “wooden box” was a precursor to the full-keyboard adding machines built between 1886 and 1904. According to its manufacturer’s promotional material, it was the world’s first adding machine with a practical application. Date of manufacture: about 1900
The Underwood No. 5, which appeared in 1900, was the first classic modern typewriter (with visible text, upper- and lower-case letters and tab stops). It set the standard for all subsequent typewriters worldwide until they were superseded first by IBM electric typewriters, which used a type ball instead of type bars, and then by PCs. Date of manufacture: 1915
This extremely compact table-top telephone with a quirky design was also known as the “Pferdefuss” or “horse’s hoof” in Bavaria due to its shape. It was the approved standard dialling apparatus only in Bavaria. Incidentally, the device was referred to as the “cow’s hoof” in Prussia. Date of manufacture: from 1925 onwards
In 1879 the Ritty brothers filed a patent application for the first cash register in the USA. Businessman John H. Patterson acquired the rights to manufacture cash registers in 1884 and founded the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio. The NCR 400 series models were among the standard cash registers in use at the time. They were favoured by retail outlets because of their robust nature. Model 422 has five rows of keys and features 42 keys in all. The indicators are in English and show sums of pounds and pence. Date of manufacture: 1910
The Kryha Liliput is a very rare cipher machine in pocket-watch format. The machine consisted of two concentric rings, each featuring an alphabet and numbers. The user would operate it by pushing a lever to step the inner ring a random number of places against the outer ring, thereby changing the relationship between the two. Although Kryha’s devices were a commercial success, they were cryptographically weak as the period lengths of the codes were generally quite short. The Kryha Liliput was cryptographically compatible with its “big sister”, the Kryha Standard. Date of manufacture: about 1926
The legendary Enigma cipher machine was developed in the early 1920s by the German engineer Artur Scherbius in Berlin and initially marketed for commercial purposes. The machine has three rotors, each of which performs an alphabetic substitution cipher. By combining the rotors in series and using a plugboard with variable wiring, very complex scrambling of the message can be achieved. Date of manufacture: about 1942
The T52 e was a World War II German cipher machine and teleprinter. Due to its size and weight, however, it was only ever used as a stationary device. Unlike the Enigma, messages were encrypted and deciphered automatically. On 20 July 1944, the resistance group led by Claus von Stauffenberg used the device to issue encrypted commands for Operation Valkyrie, the plot to assassinate Hitler. Date of manufacture: 1942
The first functioning electronic computer consisted of 40 panels with almost 18,000 vacuum tubes. J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly were commissioned to construct a vacuum-tube computer by the US Army in 1943. ENIAC, which was 1,000 times faster than other calculating machines, was developed by the young scientists at the Moore School of Electronics in Philadelphia. It required just eight hours to perform calculations that had previously taken an entire year. The high processing capacity was needed by the US Army to calculate artillery firing tables. Mauchly wanted to use ENIAC’s speed to produce more accurate weather forecasts, which is why its inventors built a “universal machine“. Date of manufacture: 1946
The history of IBM in Germany dates back to 1910, with the founding of DEHOMAG (Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH) in Berlin. The company was renamed IBM Deutschland GmbH in 1949, when it relocated to Böblingen. The D 11 tabulator, which was manufactured from 1935 onwards, was the first German machine of its kind. Used for punched card analysis, its ability to read, count, compute and print cards made it the mainstay of many so-called Hollerith departments. The machine proved a milestone in the development of punched card technology: It was on sale until 1960, latterly as the IBM D11 Type 450. Around 1,100 D 11 models were sold in all. Date of manufacture: between 1949 and 1960
In the early days of telephony, calls were connected manually by a switchboard operator . The next stage of development saw the introduction of automatic telephone exchanges which dispensed with the need for human intervention. A local telephone exchange establishes connections between the subscribers of a local network. In this case, an analogue electrical signal is switched via electromechanical components. If the first digit dialled by the subscriber is a zero, he or she is put through to the trunk or long-distance exchange. The electromechanical system exhibited here was in use in Hagen-Eilpe until 1994, when it was replaced by a digital switching system.
The W48 desktop telephone was developed for the Deutsche Bundespost by Siemens & Halske in 1948 in the western zone of occupied Germany and produced in very large quantities. Date of manufacture: 1954
This is the first computer developed by Heinz Nixdorf. He started work in July 1952 and it took him 15 months to complete. The electronic balancer is equipped with vacuum tubes. It is a one-off machine built especially for materials management at Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), where it supplemented the work of a Remington Rand tabulating machine, whose mechanical mode of operation was no match for the much faster Nixdorf electronics. Date of manufacture: 1953
The accounting machine Exacta-Continental 6000 was the ultimate in electromechanical office equipment: it could manage all accounting tasks with ease. It came with an optional Multitronic electronic multiplication unit manufactured by Heinz Nixdorf’s Labor für Impulstechnik, which signalled the beginning of a new data processing era from 1958 onwards. Date of manufacture: about 1958
The Zuse Z 11 was the first programmable relay computer from ZUSE KG to go into series production. It was used for mathematical calculations, its hard-wired programs having been designed for surveying tasks in particular. The last in a development series of electro-mechanically controlled computer systems, it contained relays as binary switching elements. These may have been slower than vacuum tubes, but were also more reliable, more durable and less expensive. Date of manufacture: 1958
The Curta is the only mechanical pocket calculator that is capable of performing all four basic arithmetic operations. The inventor of this precision-engineered masterpiece was an Austrian, Curt Herzstark (1902-1988). Date of manufacture: about 1965
The Anita was the first all-electronic, tube-based desktop calculator. Not only was it completely silent, but it operated much faster than mechanical machines, and was maintenance-free too. However, tubes were not an optimum technical solution for desktop calculators as they used a lot of electricity, were relatively susceptible to breakage and were expensive to produce. For this reason, this technology remained unique to the Anita. Mass production of such devices only became an option once transistors started to be used from around 1964 onwards. Date of manufacture: 1961
The linotype machine was a “line casting” machine used in printing. It replaced the extremely time-consuming manual type-setting process. The machine, which was patented in 1886, mechanised the setting and casting of letters. The setter entered text at a keyboard: every time a key was pressed, a matrix of the chosen letter fell into position from a magazine. The assembled line of matrices was cast as a single piece of type metal and filled with liquid lead once the spaces between words had been automatically adjusted. After cooling, this produced “A LINE OF TYPES”. Date of manufacture: 1962
At the start of the 1950s, VEB Optima Büromaschinenwerk Erfurt was asked to develop a typewriter for China as part of e socialist initiative to support allied nations. The Erfurt manufacturers based their design on the box-type typewriter first sold in 1917 by Nippon Typewriter Co. Ltd. in Tokyo. The “Chinese Optima” made its début in 1953. Subsequently, the Chinese bicycle factory “Flying Dove” took over production of the device, two versions of which were produced in China under the “Flying Dove” brand until the end of 1992. Date of manufacture: 1992
This computer originated from the Gemini II mission; it featured in an unmanned space flight on 19.01.1965. The Mercury and Gemini space programmes laid the groundwork for the moon landing. From 1963 onwards, the Gemini missions tested orbital coupling manoeuvres necessary to achieve rendezvous and docking. Safe, accurate manoeuvring was only possible with the aid of a computer. IBM’s commission to develop the on-board computer was worth $26.6 million. It was the first computer to have a magnetic core memory so that data was not destroyed when read out. It was also IBM’s first computer to be fully transistorised. The computer proved reliable in operation. Date of manufacture: about 1964
In 1965, the Digital Equipment Corporation presented the PDP-8, thereby marking the beginning of the mini-computer era. Priced at just 18,200 Dollars, this general-purpose computer was robust enough to be used in both production and laboratory environments. Some 10,000 of them were sold within the space of 10 years; by 1975, the PDP-8 cost just 2,600 Dollars. A whole variety of manufacturers tapped into the new market, building computers based on the PDP-8 for use in process and manufacturing technology and for controlling experiments in research. By 1975, more than 30 companies in the West German market alone were selling mini-computers. Date of manufacture: 1965
In 1964, Nixdorf developed the electronics for a desk-top calculator produced by office equipment manufacturer Wanderer, later building the components itself under licence. The “Wanderer Conti” was presented to the public for the first time in 1965 at the Hanover Trade Fair. It was the world’s first fully electronic desk-top calculator with printing output. In terms of design, the four-species calculator was a bona fide computer, boasting an arithmetic unit, a magnetic core memory, a printer and a threaded read-only memory (ROM). The Conti enabled Nixdorf to gain a foothold in the US market when the Chicago-based Victor Comptometer Corporation placed an order worth DM 100 million for the machine in 1968. Date of manufacture: 1966
The Olivetti Valentine is a mechanical typewriter that stands out largely by virtue of its unconventional appearance. It is regarded as a milestone in industrial design and is a sought-after collector’s item. Date of manufacture: early 1970s
The great success enjoyed by Nixdorf at the end of the 1960s and start of the 1970s was based largely on the computers of the 820 series. These were universal computers for companies of all sizes and could be used for almost any application area thanks to their modular construction and consistent application of the modular design system. Date of manufacture: 1974
Canon Canola Pocketronic, Sanyo ICC-82D, Sharp EL-8: The first battery-operated electronic pocket calculators were brought out virtually simultaneously in 1970 by Japanese firms Sanyo, Sharp and Canon. However, the "heart" of these first pocket calculators – the microchip – was produced by US companies such as Texas Instruments and Rockwell. Texas Instruments had developed the first portable prototype as early as 1967. But the Cal-Tech, as it was known, was merely supposed to demonstrate the power of the new chip and never went into series production. The huge sales potential of the pocket calculator had yet to be recognised, especially since it was still too expensive to produce. It was for this reason that Texas Instruments sold the technical design of the Cal-Tech to Canon, and only brought out its own pocket calculator in 1972. Date of manufacture: 1970
The Odyssey console laid the foundations for the video game era. In 1966 Ralph Baer, a US engineer of German descent, filed a patent for a kind of ping-pong game. This was ultimately granted in 1968. It was not until 1972 that the game was distributed with a gaming console by Magnavox. Poor marketing meant that although the video game wasn’t a commercial flop, it wasn’t a resounding financial success either. Date of manufacture: 1972
The HP-35 was the world's first scientific pocket calculator. Before it came along, slide rules and logarithm tables were required for trigonometric and exponential functions. Pocket calculators were only capable of the four basic arithmetic operations. The price for an HP-35 in 1972 was about DM 2,000. Date of manufacture: 1972
In 1970, the photocopier company Xerox founded a research centre in Palo Alto known as PARC. This is where the Xerox Alto was developed, a forerunner of much of the PC technology taken for granted today. The Alto had a graphical user interface and a mouse, and was the model on which first the Macintosh, then Windows were based. It was also fully network-capable: the Ethernet was another Xerox PARC invention. Many Alto system engineers later worked on the Apple Macintosh. Only around 1,000 examples of the Alto were built; it was a prototype and was never launched on the market. Date of manufacture: 1973
The January 1975 issue of the magazine Popular Electronics featured the forerunner of the first personal computer, the Altair 8800, which had been designed by Ed Roberts and his company MITS. It was available as a kit for 397 US dollars, making it the first computer that ordinary consumers could afford and marking the advent of widespread PC use. Incidentally, the Altair's name comes from a TV series. The twelve-year-old daughter of editor Les Solomon said: “Call it Altair. That's where the Enterprise is heading tonight.“ Date of manufacture: 1975
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple on 1 April 1976. Soon afterwards, they presented their first computer: the Apple I. A total of only 200 Apple I computers were made. Jobs and Wozniak built it in Jobs's parents' garage in Los Altos, California and sold it for $666. The Apple I was actually just a circuit board. Users had to make their own housing for it and add input and output devices themselves. There are still around 70 Apple I computers in existence worldwide. Date of manufacture: 1976
The Apple II was the first “personal“ desktop computer to achieve commercial success. In contrast to the Apple I, the main board was supplied in a plastic housing together with a keyboard, a monitor and software.  The Apple Writer word processor and VisiCalc spreadsheet software were key to its success. The Apple II marked the start of Apple's rise to become the world's most successful company. Date of manufacture: 1977
The computer centre from the Sachsenwerk in Dresden is part of a system that was only shut down in 1993. It played a role in GDR computer history and a part in the success story of a major computer system. The Einheitliches System Elektronischer Rechenanlagen (standardized system of electronic computers) is the functional replica of an IBM computer: ESER 1055 is compatible with the 370/155 in terms of hardware and software alike. These computer systems were built until well into the 1980s. Date of manufacture: about 1979
Whenever computers were mentioned in the 1960s and 1970s, IBM was the name on everyone's lips. Despite this, the manufacturing giant was so slow to react that it almost missed out on the personal computer revolution, eventually launching its own PC 5150 in August 1981. The device proved an immediate hit, becoming an office mainstay. After all, it was a product of THE computer company, a fact which engendered trust among businesses that had not had any faith in the models available on the market thus far. The IBM PC, which ran with Microsoft's DOS operating system, provided the industry standard that had been lacking for so long. Date of manufacture: 1984
When Adam Osborne founded his computer firm, he was already well-known on the burgeoning home-computer scene thanks to numerous books and articles he had published. Although others before him had toyed with the idea of building a portable computer, his model, the Osborne 1, was the first on the market. Compared with today’s laptops, the Osborne 1 was extremely heavy and unwieldy. Despite this drawback, it proved a big success and almost became a cult object. Unfortunately, Osborne’s company went bankrupt in 1983. Date of manufacture: 1983
Commodore presented the C64 in 1982. Two years after its launch, four million units had already been sold, breaking all previous records for computer sales. Ultimately, a total of over 20 million C64 computers were sold throughout the world. The C64 was sometimes referred to as the “breadbox“ or even the “neck rest“ due to its shape. Date of manufacture: 1982
Motorola launched the first commercial mobile phone in 1983: the Dynatac 8000X. This bulky forebear of today's mobile phones weighed almost 750 grams and cost around $400. Date of manufacture: 1983
Apple launched the Macintosh on 24 January 1984. The Mac broke with all the previously accepted notions about PCs. When Jef Raskin, the father of the Mac, proposed the project in 1979, his idea was to design a computer that was geared to people. The Mac enabled normal users to become acquainted with the graphical user interface featuring desktop, mouse and windows. All they had to do beforehand was to unpack it and plug it in. Although the Mac lost out to the IBM PCs in the office environment, it revolutionised the entire graphic design industry. Date of manufacture: 1984
The Cray-2 was the fastest computer in the world in 1985. It weighed 2.5 tonnes. It was supplied as a supercomputer with up to four processors, a peak performance of 2 GFLOPS, 2 GB of memory and a maximum clock speed of 4.1 ns. It is notable for its striking design. A total of 27 units were sold. Date of manufacture: 1985
The Nintendo Game Boy proved to be one of the most successful products in the company’s history. The hand-held video game device was launched on the market in a plain grey-and-white version in 1989. Its robust technology, ease of operation and low battery consumption all helped to make it the biggest-selling console of the time. Although the Game Boy was initially only available with the game Tetris, strangely enough this became part of its appeal: it wasn’t just for hard-core players, but for everyone. The Game Boy was manufactured until 2002 and 120 million devices were sold in all. Date of manufacture: about 1990
The Newton was Apple’s attempt to create a revolutionary new device. A feature of the PDA (Private Digital Assistant) was handwriting recognition software; the device also came with a stylus which was supposed to make entering text child’s play. The touch-sensitive screen would detect characters and words automatically as they were written. However, this feature never really worked properly at market launch, something which gave rise to less than glowing reviews in the press. The project was halted in 1998 when company founder Steve Jobs re-joined the company. Date of manufacture: 1993
Robot soccer represents a major challenge for researchers in the field of artificial intelligence. A proving ground for the state of science in this field, it is also a means of promoting university-level education. Since 1997, international RoboCup matches featuring research teams from all over the world have been held in various leagues. This model – a third-generation, Middle Size League robot – belongs to the Fraunhofer Institut. Each robot has its own sensors and can make decisions completely autonomously. The robots can, however, communicate wirelessly with one another and with a computer. Date of manufacture: 1999
The robot dog AIBO was perhaps the most technically sophisticated toy ever to be created by its Japanese manufacturer Sony: the battery-operated dog came with 18 electrically controlled joints, microphones, loudspeakers, emotion display, 64-bit processor and a balance system to enable it to stand up. Date of manufacture: 1999
Lauron stands for “LAUfROboter Neuronal gesteuert” (English: “Walking Robot, Neural Controlled”). The walking robot (the 3rd generation of which is on show) was developed in order to research statically stable walking in rough terrain. Its movements are biologically inspired, mimicking those of a stick insect. Each leg can respond semi-autonomously to impulses; the movements are coordinated at a higher level. Lauron is able to gather information about its environment and plan a path towards a given goal autonomously. While walking, the robot uses sensors to detect potential obstacles and then either walks over or around them. Date of manufacture: 1999
Using a camera, this 2nd-generation face robot scans the viewer’s facial expression, which is then recognised and interpreted by software based on a neural net. From a repertoire of pre-programmed responses, the robot’s mechanism is activated and a matching facial expression is generated. The mechanical and electronic parts of the Mark II were covered by a silicone skin to create a robot face that looks as human as possible. Fumio Hara, Science University of Tokyo, Japan, 2001
RoboThespian is a life-sized humanoid robot designed for human interaction in public environments. It can sing as well as tell jokes and recite text passages. Visitors can choose from a selection of programmed text sequences for the metallic creation to read out, accompanied by a range of gestures. Date of manufacture: 2011
The earliest documents written on clay tablets in cuneiform script were used for tax and accounting purposes. Records were kept of the bread rations paid to workers, for example. The precise history is not known. About 2350-2100 BC
Wilhelm Schickard wanted to “mechanise” the laborious and error-prone task of calculating astronomical tables. In 1623 he had two calculating machines built to his specifications in a mechanic’s workshop in Tübingen – one for himself, the other for Johannes Kepler. The practical benefits of his “calculating clock” appeared somewhat dubious at the time, as the system based on logarithmic tables was superior. Regrettably, both machines were destroyed in a fire at the workshop and the invention was forgotten. This reconstruction of the machine by Baron von Freytag Löringhoff was completed in 1957. Date of manufacture: 1957
In 1678, French watchmaker René Grillet presented the “Machine arithmétique” which was capable of carrying out all four basic arithmetic operations. Constructed largely out of paper, the invention used so-called Napier’s rods that had been around since 1617 for the calculation process. It is an excellent example of the early days of mechanical calculation and an ancestor of today’s pocket calculator. Date of manufacture: 1678
This calculating machine, invented by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, was built in the years from 1690 to 1720. It represents a historic milestone in the development of mechanical calculating machines because it was the first to perform all four arithmetic operations. Leibniz's operating mechanism, known as the stepped cylinder or Leibniz wheel, allowed multiplication to be performed mechanically and remained an indispensable component of mechanical calculators for over 200 years. Functioning replica of the only remaining original (at the Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek in Hanover), built to plans by N. Joachim Lehmann. HNF replica: 1995
The device popularly known as the “Chess Turk“ was built in 1769 by Austrian court official Wolfgang von Kempelen in such a way as to convince spectators that they were watching an “automated chess player“. In fact an individual of quite normal size sat inside and controlled the gripper arm with the aid of levers and cable winches. Magnetised chess pieces and small magnetic pins on the underside of the board enabled the moves to be followed by the person within. Functional HNF replica: 2004
An Arithmometer is a mechanical calculating machine invented by the Frenchman Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar (1785-1870). It was the world's first calculating machine to go into series production. As well as addition and subtraction, it could perform multiplication and division by means of repeated addition and subtraction. This luxury version of the calculating machine was a gift to the king of Portugal. Date of manufacture: about 1855
The Hansen Writing Ball was the world's first typewriter to be produced commercially, albeit in small batches. It was developed in 1865 by Rasmus Johann Malling-Hansen, a Danish pastor and teacher of deaf-mutes. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a well-known user. Date of manufacture: about 1878
The name Morse and the code of the same name became synonymous with telegraphy. His procedure for transmitting text information via a series of pulses (dots and dashes) and the silences between them helped the technology achieve a breakthrough. The most important components of the Ericsson Morse Telegraph Type TA 100 for receiving messages (“sounder”) are an electromagnet, an armature, a mechanical clockwork to move the paper tape, a coloured stylus and a roll of paper. A Morse key is required to transmit messages. Date of manufacture: about 1880
In 1883, Englishman Joseph Edmondson obtained a patent for a circular calculating machine based on the stepped-drum mechanism. His design was based on Thomas de Colmar’s simple “arithmomètre”. The advantage of Edmondson’s machine was that it was not limited to a certain number of decimal places if a division produced a remainder. Date of manufacture: about 1885
This machine is a replica of the first Hollerith machine that was used so successfully to complete the first census in the USA thanks to the use of punched cards. It provided a much faster way of counting the vast amount of data gathered. The Hollerith machine consists of two hinged plates, a switch panel with relays, a counting device with 40 counters and a sorting box. When one of the pins on the plates meets a hole in the punched card, a circuit is completed and an electric pulse causes the pointer of a counter to advance accordingly. The respective compartment of the sorting box is also opened, and the operator can place the analysed punched card into it by hand. Functional HNF replica: 2006
The comptometer was the first exclusively key-driven mechanical calculator. The “wooden box” was a precursor to the full-keyboard adding machines built between 1886 and 1904. According to its manufacturer’s promotional material, it was the world’s first adding machine with a practical application. Date of manufacture: about 1900
The Underwood No. 5, which appeared in 1900, was the first classic modern typewriter (with visible text, upper- and lower-case letters and tab stops). It set the standard for all subsequent typewriters worldwide until they were superseded first by IBM electric typewriters, which used a type ball instead of type bars, and then by PCs. Date of manufacture: 1915
This extremely compact table-top telephone with a quirky design was also known as the “Pferdefuss” or “horse’s hoof” in Bavaria due to its shape. It was the approved standard dialling apparatus only in Bavaria. Incidentally, the device was referred to as the “cow’s hoof” in Prussia. Date of manufacture: from 1925 onwards
In 1879 the Ritty brothers filed a patent application for the first cash register in the USA. Businessman John H. Patterson acquired the rights to manufacture cash registers in 1884 and founded the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio. The NCR 400 series models were among the standard cash registers in use at the time. They were favoured by retail outlets because of their robust nature. Model 422 has five rows of keys and features 42 keys in all. The indicators are in English and show sums of pounds and pence. Date of manufacture: 1910
The Kryha Liliput is a very rare cipher machine in pocket-watch format. The machine consisted of two concentric rings, each featuring an alphabet and numbers. The user would operate it by pushing a lever to step the inner ring a random number of places against the outer ring, thereby changing the relationship between the two. Although Kryha’s devices were a commercial success, they were cryptographically weak as the period lengths of the codes were generally quite short. The Kryha Liliput was cryptographically compatible with its “big sister”, the Kryha Standard. Date of manufacture: about 1926
The legendary Enigma cipher machine was developed in the early 1920s by the German engineer Artur Scherbius in Berlin and initially marketed for commercial purposes. The machine has three rotors, each of which performs an alphabetic substitution cipher. By combining the rotors in series and using a plugboard with variable wiring, very complex scrambling of the message can be achieved. Date of manufacture: about 1942
The T52 e was a World War II German cipher machine and teleprinter. Due to its size and weight, however, it was only ever used as a stationary device. Unlike the Enigma, messages were encrypted and deciphered automatically. On 20 July 1944, the resistance group led by Claus von Stauffenberg used the device to issue encrypted commands for Operation Valkyrie, the plot to assassinate Hitler. Date of manufacture: 1942
The first functioning electronic computer consisted of 40 panels with almost 18,000 vacuum tubes. J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly were commissioned to construct a vacuum-tube computer by the US Army in 1943. ENIAC, which was 1,000 times faster than other calculating machines, was developed by the young scientists at the Moore School of Electronics in Philadelphia. It required just eight hours to perform calculations that had previously taken an entire year. The high processing capacity was needed by the US Army to calculate artillery firing tables. Mauchly wanted to use ENIAC’s speed to produce more accurate weather forecasts, which is why its inventors built a “universal machine“. Date of manufacture: 1946
The history of IBM in Germany dates back to 1910, with the founding of DEHOMAG (Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH) in Berlin. The company was renamed IBM Deutschland GmbH in 1949, when it relocated to Böblingen. The D 11 tabulator, which was manufactured from 1935 onwards, was the first German machine of its kind. Used for punched card analysis, its ability to read, count, compute and print cards made it the mainstay of many so-called Hollerith departments. The machine proved a milestone in the development of punched card technology: It was on sale until 1960, latterly as the IBM D11 Type 450. Around 1,100 D 11 models were sold in all. Date of manufacture: between 1949 and 1960
In the early days of telephony, calls were connected manually by a switchboard operator . The next stage of development saw the introduction of automatic telephone exchanges which dispensed with the need for human intervention. A local telephone exchange establishes connections between the subscribers of a local network. In this case, an analogue electrical signal is switched via electromechanical components. If the first digit dialled by the subscriber is a zero, he or she is put through to the trunk or long-distance exchange. The electromechanical system exhibited here was in use in Hagen-Eilpe until 1994, when it was replaced by a digital switching system.
The W48 desktop telephone was developed for the Deutsche Bundespost by Siemens & Halske in 1948 in the western zone of occupied Germany and produced in very large quantities. Date of manufacture: 1954
This is the first computer developed by Heinz Nixdorf. He started work in July 1952 and it took him 15 months to complete. The electronic balancer is equipped with vacuum tubes. It is a one-off machine built especially for materials management at Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), where it supplemented the work of a Remington Rand tabulating machine, whose mechanical mode of operation was no match for the much faster Nixdorf electronics. Date of manufacture: 1953
The accounting machine Exacta-Continental 6000 was the ultimate in electromechanical office equipment: it could manage all accounting tasks with ease. It came with an optional Multitronic electronic multiplication unit manufactured by Heinz Nixdorf’s Labor für Impulstechnik, which signalled the beginning of a new data processing era from 1958 onwards. Date of manufacture: about 1958
The Zuse Z 11 was the first programmable relay computer from ZUSE KG to go into series production. It was used for mathematical calculations, its hard-wired programs having been designed for surveying tasks in particular. The last in a development series of electro-mechanically controlled computer systems, it contained relays as binary switching elements. These may have been slower than vacuum tubes, but were also more reliable, more durable and less expensive. Date of manufacture: 1958
The Curta is the only mechanical pocket calculator that is capable of performing all four basic arithmetic operations. The inventor of this precision-engineered masterpiece was an Austrian, Curt Herzstark (1902-1988). Date of manufacture: about 1965
The Anita was the first all-electronic, tube-based desktop calculator. Not only was it completely silent, but it operated much faster than mechanical machines, and was maintenance-free too. However, tubes were not an optimum technical solution for desktop calculators as they used a lot of electricity, were relatively susceptible to breakage and were expensive to produce. For this reason, this technology remained unique to the Anita. Mass production of such devices only became an option once transistors started to be used from around 1964 onwards. Date of manufacture: 1961
The linotype machine was a “line casting” machine used in printing. It replaced the extremely time-consuming manual type-setting process. The machine, which was patented in 1886, mechanised the setting and casting of letters. The setter entered text at a keyboard: every time a key was pressed, a matrix of the chosen letter fell into position from a magazine. The assembled line of matrices was cast as a single piece of type metal and filled with liquid lead once the spaces between words had been automatically adjusted. After cooling, this produced “A LINE OF TYPES”. Date of manufacture: 1962
At the start of the 1950s, VEB Optima Büromaschinenwerk Erfurt was asked to develop a typewriter for China as part of e socialist initiative to support allied nations. The Erfurt manufacturers based their design on the box-type typewriter first sold in 1917 by Nippon Typewriter Co. Ltd. in Tokyo. The “Chinese Optima” made its début in 1953. Subsequently, the Chinese bicycle factory “Flying Dove” took over production of the device, two versions of which were produced in China under the “Flying Dove” brand until the end of 1992. Date of manufacture: 1992
This computer originated from the Gemini II mission; it featured in an unmanned space flight on 19.01.1965. The Mercury and Gemini space programmes laid the groundwork for the moon landing. From 1963 onwards, the Gemini missions tested orbital coupling manoeuvres necessary to achieve rendezvous and docking. Safe, accurate manoeuvring was only possible with the aid of a computer. IBM’s commission to develop the on-board computer was worth $26.6 million. It was the first computer to have a magnetic core memory so that data was not destroyed when read out. It was also IBM’s first computer to be fully transistorised. The computer proved reliable in operation. Date of manufacture: about 1964
In 1965, the Digital Equipment Corporation presented the PDP-8, thereby marking the beginning of the mini-computer era. Priced at just 18,200 Dollars, this general-purpose computer was robust enough to be used in both production and laboratory environments. Some 10,000 of them were sold within the space of 10 years; by 1975, the PDP-8 cost just 2,600 Dollars. A whole variety of manufacturers tapped into the new market, building computers based on the PDP-8 for use in process and manufacturing technology and for controlling experiments in research. By 1975, more than 30 companies in the West German market alone were selling mini-computers. Date of manufacture: 1965
In 1964, Nixdorf developed the electronics for a desk-top calculator produced by office equipment manufacturer Wanderer, later building the components itself under licence. The “Wanderer Conti” was presented to the public for the first time in 1965 at the Hanover Trade Fair. It was the world’s first fully electronic desk-top calculator with printing output. In terms of design, the four-species calculator was a bona fide computer, boasting an arithmetic unit, a magnetic core memory, a printer and a threaded read-only memory (ROM). The Conti enabled Nixdorf to gain a foothold in the US market when the Chicago-based Victor Comptometer Corporation placed an order worth DM 100 million for the machine in 1968. Date of manufacture: 1966
The Olivetti Valentine is a mechanical typewriter that stands out largely by virtue of its unconventional appearance. It is regarded as a milestone in industrial design and is a sought-after collector’s item. Date of manufacture: early 1970s
The great success enjoyed by Nixdorf at the end of the 1960s and start of the 1970s was based largely on the computers of the 820 series. These were universal computers for companies of all sizes and could be used for almost any application area thanks to their modular construction and consistent application of the modular design system. Date of manufacture: 1974
Canon Canola Pocketronic, Sanyo ICC-82D, Sharp EL-8: The first battery-operated electronic pocket calculators were brought out virtually simultaneously in 1970 by Japanese firms Sanyo, Sharp and Canon. However, the "heart" of these first pocket calculators – the microchip – was produced by US companies such as Texas Instruments and Rockwell. Texas Instruments had developed the first portable prototype as early as 1967. But the Cal-Tech, as it was known, was merely supposed to demonstrate the power of the new chip and never went into series production. The huge sales potential of the pocket calculator had yet to be recognised, especially since it was still too expensive to produce. It was for this reason that Texas Instruments sold the technical design of the Cal-Tech to Canon, and only brought out its own pocket calculator in 1972. Date of manufacture: 1970
The Odyssey console laid the foundations for the video game era. In 1966 Ralph Baer, a US engineer of German descent, filed a patent for a kind of ping-pong game. This was ultimately granted in 1968. It was not until 1972 that the game was distributed with a gaming console by Magnavox. Poor marketing meant that although the video game wasn’t a commercial flop, it wasn’t a resounding financial success either. Date of manufacture: 1972
The HP-35 was the world's first scientific pocket calculator. Before it came along, slide rules and logarithm tables were required for trigonometric and exponential functions. Pocket calculators were only capable of the four basic arithmetic operations. The price for an HP-35 in 1972 was about DM 2,000. Date of manufacture: 1972
In 1970, the photocopier company Xerox founded a research centre in Palo Alto known as PARC. This is where the Xerox Alto was developed, a forerunner of much of the PC technology taken for granted today. The Alto had a graphical user interface and a mouse, and was the model on which first the Macintosh, then Windows were based. It was also fully network-capable: the Ethernet was another Xerox PARC invention. Many Alto system engineers later worked on the Apple Macintosh. Only around 1,000 examples of the Alto were built; it was a prototype and was never launched on the market. Date of manufacture: 1973
The January 1975 issue of the magazine Popular Electronics featured the forerunner of the first personal computer, the Altair 8800, which had been designed by Ed Roberts and his company MITS. It was available as a kit for 397 US dollars, making it the first computer that ordinary consumers could afford and marking the advent of widespread PC use. Incidentally, the Altair's name comes from a TV series. The twelve-year-old daughter of editor Les Solomon said: “Call it Altair. That's where the Enterprise is heading tonight.“ Date of manufacture: 1975
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple on 1 April 1976. Soon afterwards, they presented their first computer: the Apple I. A total of only 200 Apple I computers were made. Jobs and Wozniak built it in Jobs's parents' garage in Los Altos, California and sold it for $666. The Apple I was actually just a circuit board. Users had to make their own housing for it and add input and output devices themselves. There are still around 70 Apple I computers in existence worldwide. Date of manufacture: 1976
The Apple II was the first “personal“ desktop computer to achieve commercial success. In contrast to the Apple I, the main board was supplied in a plastic housing together with a keyboard, a monitor and software.  The Apple Writer word processor and VisiCalc spreadsheet software were key to its success. The Apple II marked the start of Apple's rise to become the world's most successful company. Date of manufacture: 1977
The computer centre from the Sachsenwerk in Dresden is part of a system that was only shut down in 1993. It played a role in GDR computer history and a part in the success story of a major computer system. The Einheitliches System Elektronischer Rechenanlagen (standardized system of electronic computers) is the functional replica of an IBM computer: ESER 1055 is compatible with the 370/155 in terms of hardware and software alike. These computer systems were built until well into the 1980s. Date of manufacture: about 1979
Whenever computers were mentioned in the 1960s and 1970s, IBM was the name on everyone's lips. Despite this, the manufacturing giant was so slow to react that it almost missed out on the personal computer revolution, eventually launching its own PC 5150 in August 1981. The device proved an immediate hit, becoming an office mainstay. After all, it was a product of THE computer company, a fact which engendered trust among businesses that had not had any faith in the models available on the market thus far. The IBM PC, which ran with Microsoft's DOS operating system, provided the industry standard that had been lacking for so long. Date of manufacture: 1984
When Adam Osborne founded his computer firm, he was already well-known on the burgeoning home-computer scene thanks to numerous books and articles he had published. Although others before him had toyed with the idea of building a portable computer, his model, the Osborne 1, was the first on the market. Compared with today’s laptops, the Osborne 1 was extremely heavy and unwieldy. Despite this drawback, it proved a big success and almost became a cult object. Unfortunately, Osborne’s company went bankrupt in 1983. Date of manufacture: 1983
Commodore presented the C64 in 1982. Two years after its launch, four million units had already been sold, breaking all previous records for computer sales. Ultimately, a total of over 20 million C64 computers were sold throughout the world. The C64 was sometimes referred to as the “breadbox“ or even the “neck rest“ due to its shape. Date of manufacture: 1982
Motorola launched the first commercial mobile phone in 1983: the Dynatac 8000X. This bulky forebear of today's mobile phones weighed almost 750 grams and cost around $400. Date of manufacture: 1983
Apple launched the Macintosh on 24 January 1984. The Mac broke with all the previously accepted notions about PCs. When Jef Raskin, the father of the Mac, proposed the project in 1979, his idea was to design a computer that was geared to people. The Mac enabled normal users to become acquainted with the graphical user interface featuring desktop, mouse and windows. All they had to do beforehand was to unpack it and plug it in. Although the Mac lost out to the IBM PCs in the office environment, it revolutionised the entire graphic design industry. Date of manufacture: 1984
The Cray-2 was the fastest computer in the world in 1985. It weighed 2.5 tonnes. It was supplied as a supercomputer with up to four processors, a peak performance of 2 GFLOPS, 2 GB of memory and a maximum clock speed of 4.1 ns. It is notable for its striking design. A total of 27 units were sold. Date of manufacture: 1985
The Nintendo Game Boy proved to be one of the most successful products in the company’s history. The hand-held video game device was launched on the market in a plain grey-and-white version in 1989. Its robust technology, ease of operation and low battery consumption all helped to make it the biggest-selling console of the time. Although the Game Boy was initially only available with the game Tetris, strangely enough this became part of its appeal: it wasn’t just for hard-core players, but for everyone. The Game Boy was manufactured until 2002 and 120 million devices were sold in all. Date of manufacture: about 1990
The Newton was Apple’s attempt to create a revolutionary new device. A feature of the PDA (Private Digital Assistant) was handwriting recognition software; the device also came with a stylus which was supposed to make entering text child’s play. The touch-sensitive screen would detect characters and words automatically as they were written. However, this feature never really worked properly at market launch, something which gave rise to less than glowing reviews in the press. The project was halted in 1998 when company founder Steve Jobs re-joined the company. Date of manufacture: 1993
Robot soccer represents a major challenge for researchers in the field of artificial intelligence. A proving ground for the state of science in this field, it is also a means of promoting university-level education. Since 1997, international RoboCup matches featuring research teams from all over the world have been held in various leagues. This model – a third-generation, Middle Size League robot – belongs to the Fraunhofer Institut. Each robot has its own sensors and can make decisions completely autonomously. The robots can, however, communicate wirelessly with one another and with a computer. Date of manufacture: 1999
The robot dog AIBO was perhaps the most technically sophisticated toy ever to be created by its Japanese manufacturer Sony: the battery-operated dog came with 18 electrically controlled joints, microphones, loudspeakers, emotion display, 64-bit processor and a balance system to enable it to stand up. Date of manufacture: 1999
Lauron stands for “LAUfROboter Neuronal gesteuert” (English: “Walking Robot, Neural Controlled”). The walking robot (the 3rd generation of which is on show) was developed in order to research statically stable walking in rough terrain. Its movements are biologically inspired, mimicking those of a stick insect. Each leg can respond semi-autonomously to impulses; the movements are coordinated at a higher level. Lauron is able to gather information about its environment and plan a path towards a given goal autonomously. While walking, the robot uses sensors to detect potential obstacles and then either walks over or around them. Date of manufacture: 1999
Using a camera, this 2nd-generation face robot scans the viewer’s facial expression, which is then recognised and interpreted by software based on a neural net. From a repertoire of pre-programmed responses, the robot’s mechanism is activated and a matching facial expression is generated. The mechanical and electronic parts of the Mark II were covered by a silicone skin to create a robot face that looks as human as possible. Fumio Hara, Science University of Tokyo, Japan, 2001
RoboThespian is a life-sized humanoid robot designed for human interaction in public environments. It can sing as well as tell jokes and recite text passages. Visitors can choose from a selection of programmed text sequences for the metallic creation to read out, accompanied by a range of gestures. Date of manufacture: 2011
The earliest documents written on clay tablets in cuneiform script were used for tax and accounting purposes. Records were kept of the bread rations paid to workers, for example. The precise history is not known. About 2350-2100 BC
Wilhelm Schickard wanted to “mechanise” the laborious and error-prone task of calculating astronomical tables. In 1623 he had two calculating machines built to his specifications in a mechanic’s workshop in Tübingen – one for himself, the other for Johannes Kepler. The practical benefits of his “calculating clock” appeared somewhat dubious at the time, as the system based on logarithmic tables was superior. Regrettably, both machines were destroyed in a fire at the workshop and the invention was forgotten. This reconstruction of the machine by Baron von Freytag Löringhoff was completed in 1957. Date of manufacture: 1957
In 1678, French watchmaker René Grillet presented the “Machine arithmétique” which was capable of carrying out all four basic arithmetic operations. Constructed largely out of paper, the invention used so-called Napier’s rods that had been around since 1617 for the calculation process. It is an excellent example of the early days of mechanical calculation and an ancestor of today’s pocket calculator. Date of manufacture: 1678
This calculating machine, invented by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, was built in the years from 1690 to 1720. It represents a historic milestone in the development of mechanical calculating machines because it was the first to perform all four arithmetic operations. Leibniz's operating mechanism, known as the stepped cylinder or Leibniz wheel, allowed multiplication to be performed mechanically and remained an indispensable component of mechanical calculators for over 200 years. Functioning replica of the only remaining original (at the Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek in Hanover), built to plans by N. Joachim Lehmann. HNF replica: 1995
The device popularly known as the “Chess Turk“ was built in 1769 by Austrian court official Wolfgang von Kempelen in such a way as to convince spectators that they were watching an “automated chess player“. In fact an individual of quite normal size sat inside and controlled the gripper arm with the aid of levers and cable winches. Magnetised chess pieces and small magnetic pins on the underside of the board enabled the moves to be followed by the person within. Functional HNF replica: 2004
An Arithmometer is a mechanical calculating machine invented by the Frenchman Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar (1785-1870). It was the world's first calculating machine to go into series production. As well as addition and subtraction, it could perform multiplication and division by means of repeated addition and subtraction. This luxury version of the calculating machine was a gift to the king of Portugal. Date of manufacture: about 1855
The Hansen Writing Ball was the world's first typewriter to be produced commercially, albeit in small batches. It was developed in 1865 by Rasmus Johann Malling-Hansen, a Danish pastor and teacher of deaf-mutes. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a well-known user. Date of manufacture: about 1878
The name Morse and the code of the same name became synonymous with telegraphy. His procedure for transmitting text information via a series of pulses (dots and dashes) and the silences between them helped the technology achieve a breakthrough. The most important components of the Ericsson Morse Telegraph Type TA 100 for receiving messages (“sounder”) are an electromagnet, an armature, a mechanical clockwork to move the paper tape, a coloured stylus and a roll of paper. A Morse key is required to transmit messages. Date of manufacture: about 1880
In 1883, Englishman Joseph Edmondson obtained a patent for a circular calculating machine based on the stepped-drum mechanism. His design was based on Thomas de Colmar’s simple “arithmomètre”. The advantage of Edmondson’s machine was that it was not limited to a certain number of decimal places if a division produced a remainder. Date of manufacture: about 1885
This machine is a replica of the first Hollerith machine that was used so successfully to complete the first census in the USA thanks to the use of punched cards. It provided a much faster way of counting the vast amount of data gathered. The Hollerith machine consists of two hinged plates, a switch panel with relays, a counting device with 40 counters and a sorting box. When one of the pins on the plates meets a hole in the punched card, a circuit is completed and an electric pulse causes the pointer of a counter to advance accordingly. The respective compartment of the sorting box is also opened, and the operator can place the analysed punched card into it by hand. Functional HNF replica: 2006
The comptometer was the first exclusively key-driven mechanical calculator. The “wooden box” was a precursor to the full-keyboard adding machines built between 1886 and 1904. According to its manufacturer’s promotional material, it was the world’s first adding machine with a practical application. Date of manufacture: about 1900
The Underwood No. 5, which appeared in 1900, was the first classic modern typewriter (with visible text, upper- and lower-case letters and tab stops). It set the standard for all subsequent typewriters worldwide until they were superseded first by IBM electric typewriters, which used a type ball instead of type bars, and then by PCs. Date of manufacture: 1915
This extremely compact table-top telephone with a quirky design was also known as the “Pferdefuss” or “horse’s hoof” in Bavaria due to its shape. It was the approved standard dialling apparatus only in Bavaria. Incidentally, the device was referred to as the “cow’s hoof” in Prussia. Date of manufacture: from 1925 onwards
In 1879 the Ritty brothers filed a patent application for the first cash register in the USA. Businessman John H. Patterson acquired the rights to manufacture cash registers in 1884 and founded the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio. The NCR 400 series models were among the standard cash registers in use at the time. They were favoured by retail outlets because of their robust nature. Model 422 has five rows of keys and features 42 keys in all. The indicators are in English and show sums of pounds and pence. Date of manufacture: 1910
The Kryha Liliput is a very rare cipher machine in pocket-watch format. The machine consisted of two concentric rings, each featuring an alphabet and numbers. The user would operate it by pushing a lever to step the inner ring a random number of places against the outer ring, thereby changing the relationship between the two. Although Kryha’s devices were a commercial success, they were cryptographically weak as the period lengths of the codes were generally quite short. The Kryha Liliput was cryptographically compatible with its “big sister”, the Kryha Standard. Date of manufacture: about 1926
The legendary Enigma cipher machine was developed in the early 1920s by the German engineer Artur Scherbius in Berlin and initially marketed for commercial purposes. The machine has three rotors, each of which performs an alphabetic substitution cipher. By combining the rotors in series and using a plugboard with variable wiring, very complex scrambling of the message can be achieved. Date of manufacture: about 1942
The T52 e was a World War II German cipher machine and teleprinter. Due to its size and weight, however, it was only ever used as a stationary device. Unlike the Enigma, messages were encrypted and deciphered automatically. On 20 July 1944, the resistance group led by Claus von Stauffenberg used the device to issue encrypted commands for Operation Valkyrie, the plot to assassinate Hitler. Date of manufacture: 1942
The first functioning electronic computer consisted of 40 panels with almost 18,000 vacuum tubes. J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly were commissioned to construct a vacuum-tube computer by the US Army in 1943. ENIAC, which was 1,000 times faster than other calculating machines, was developed by the young scientists at the Moore School of Electronics in Philadelphia. It required just eight hours to perform calculations that had previously taken an entire year. The high processing capacity was needed by the US Army to calculate artillery firing tables. Mauchly wanted to use ENIAC’s speed to produce more accurate weather forecasts, which is why its inventors built a “universal machine“. Date of manufacture: 1946
The history of IBM in Germany dates back to 1910, with the founding of DEHOMAG (Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH) in Berlin. The company was renamed IBM Deutschland GmbH in 1949, when it relocated to Böblingen. The D 11 tabulator, which was manufactured from 1935 onwards, was the first German machine of its kind. Used for punched card analysis, its ability to read, count, compute and print cards made it the mainstay of many so-called Hollerith departments. The machine proved a milestone in the development of punched card technology: It was on sale until 1960, latterly as the IBM D11 Type 450. Around 1,100 D 11 models were sold in all. Date of manufacture: between 1949 and 1960
In the early days of telephony, calls were connected manually by a switchboard operator . The next stage of development saw the introduction of automatic telephone exchanges which dispensed with the need for human intervention. A local telephone exchange establishes connections between the subscribers of a local network. In this case, an analogue electrical signal is switched via electromechanical components. If the first digit dialled by the subscriber is a zero, he or she is put through to the trunk or long-distance exchange. The electromechanical system exhibited here was in use in Hagen-Eilpe until 1994, when it was replaced by a digital switching system.
The W48 desktop telephone was developed for the Deutsche Bundespost by Siemens & Halske in 1948 in the western zone of occupied Germany and produced in very large quantities. Date of manufacture: 1954
This is the first computer developed by Heinz Nixdorf. He started work in July 1952 and it took him 15 months to complete. The electronic balancer is equipped with vacuum tubes. It is a one-off machine built especially for materials management at Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), where it supplemented the work of a Remington Rand tabulating machine, whose mechanical mode of operation was no match for the much faster Nixdorf electronics. Date of manufacture: 1953
The accounting machine Exacta-Continental 6000 was the ultimate in electromechanical office equipment: it could manage all accounting tasks with ease. It came with an optional Multitronic electronic multiplication unit manufactured by Heinz Nixdorf’s Labor für Impulstechnik, which signalled the beginning of a new data processing era from 1958 onwards. Date of manufacture: about 1958
The Zuse Z 11 was the first programmable relay computer from ZUSE KG to go into series production. It was used for mathematical calculations, its hard-wired programs having been designed for surveying tasks in particular. The last in a development series of electro-mechanically controlled computer systems, it contained relays as binary switching elements. These may have been slower than vacuum tubes, but were also more reliable, more durable and less expensive. Date of manufacture: 1958
The Curta is the only mechanical pocket calculator that is capable of performing all four basic arithmetic operations. The inventor of this precision-engineered masterpiece was an Austrian, Curt Herzstark (1902-1988). Date of manufacture: about 1965
The Anita was the first all-electronic, tube-based desktop calculator. Not only was it completely silent, but it operated much faster than mechanical machines, and was maintenance-free too. However, tubes were not an optimum technical solution for desktop calculators as they used a lot of electricity, were relatively susceptible to breakage and were expensive to produce. For this reason, this technology remained unique to the Anita. Mass production of such devices only became an option once transistors started to be used from around 1964 onwards. Date of manufacture: 1961
The linotype machine was a “line casting” machine used in printing. It replaced the extremely time-consuming manual type-setting process. The machine, which was patented in 1886, mechanised the setting and casting of letters. The setter entered text at a keyboard: every time a key was pressed, a matrix of the chosen letter fell into position from a magazine. The assembled line of matrices was cast as a single piece of type metal and filled with liquid lead once the spaces between words had been automatically adjusted. After cooling, this produced “A LINE OF TYPES”. Date of manufacture: 1962
At the start of the 1950s, VEB Optima Büromaschinenwerk Erfurt was asked to develop a typewriter for China as part of e socialist initiative to support allied nations. The Erfurt manufacturers based their design on the box-type typewriter first sold in 1917 by Nippon Typewriter Co. Ltd. in Tokyo. The “Chinese Optima” made its début in 1953. Subsequently, the Chinese bicycle factory “Flying Dove” took over production of the device, two versions of which were produced in China under the “Flying Dove” brand until the end of 1992. Date of manufacture: 1992
This computer originated from the Gemini II mission; it featured in an unmanned space flight on 19.01.1965. The Mercury and Gemini space programmes laid the groundwork for the moon landing. From 1963 onwards, the Gemini missions tested orbital coupling manoeuvres necessary to achieve rendezvous and docking. Safe, accurate manoeuvring was only possible with the aid of a computer. IBM’s commission to develop the on-board computer was worth $26.6 million. It was the first computer to have a magnetic core memory so that data was not destroyed when read out. It was also IBM’s first computer to be fully transistorised. The computer proved reliable in operation. Date of manufacture: about 1964
In 1965, the Digital Equipment Corporation presented the PDP-8, thereby marking the beginning of the mini-computer era. Priced at just 18,200 Dollars, this general-purpose computer was robust enough to be used in both production and laboratory environments. Some 10,000 of them were sold within the space of 10 years; by 1975, the PDP-8 cost just 2,600 Dollars. A whole variety of manufacturers tapped into the new market, building computers based on the PDP-8 for use in process and manufacturing technology and for controlling experiments in research. By 1975, more than 30 companies in the West German market alone were selling mini-computers. Date of manufacture: 1965
In 1964, Nixdorf developed the electronics for a desk-top calculator produced by office equipment manufacturer Wanderer, later building the components itself under licence. The “Wanderer Conti” was presented to the public for the first time in 1965 at the Hanover Trade Fair. It was the world’s first fully electronic desk-top calculator with printing output. In terms of design, the four-species calculator was a bona fide computer, boasting an arithmetic unit, a magnetic core memory, a printer and a threaded read-only memory (ROM). The Conti enabled Nixdorf to gain a foothold in the US market when the Chicago-based Victor Comptometer Corporation placed an order worth DM 100 million for the machine in 1968. Date of manufacture: 1966
The Olivetti Valentine is a mechanical typewriter that stands out largely by virtue of its unconventional appearance. It is regarded as a milestone in industrial design and is a sought-after collector’s item. Date of manufacture: early 1970s
The great success enjoyed by Nixdorf at the end of the 1960s and start of the 1970s was based largely on the computers of the 820 series. These were universal computers for companies of all sizes and could be used for almost any application area thanks to their modular construction and consistent application of the modular design system. Date of manufacture: 1974
Canon Canola Pocketronic, Sanyo ICC-82D, Sharp EL-8: The first battery-operated electronic pocket calculators were brought out virtually simultaneously in 1970 by Japanese firms Sanyo, Sharp and Canon. However, the "heart" of these first pocket calculators – the microchip – was produced by US companies such as Texas Instruments and Rockwell. Texas Instruments had developed the first portable prototype as early as 1967. But the Cal-Tech, as it was known, was merely supposed to demonstrate the power of the new chip and never went into series production. The huge sales potential of the pocket calculator had yet to be recognised, especially since it was still too expensive to produce. It was for this reason that Texas Instruments sold the technical design of the Cal-Tech to Canon, and only brought out its own pocket calculator in 1972. Date of manufacture: 1970
The Odyssey console laid the foundations for the video game era. In 1966 Ralph Baer, a US engineer of German descent, filed a patent for a kind of ping-pong game. This was ultimately granted in 1968. It was not until 1972 that the game was distributed with a gaming console by Magnavox. Poor marketing meant that although the video game wasn’t a commercial flop, it wasn’t a resounding financial success either. Date of manufacture: 1972
The HP-35 was the world's first scientific pocket calculator. Before it came along, slide rules and logarithm tables were required for trigonometric and exponential functions. Pocket calculators were only capable of the four basic arithmetic operations. The price for an HP-35 in 1972 was about DM 2,000. Date of manufacture: 1972
In 1970, the photocopier company Xerox founded a research centre in Palo Alto known as PARC. This is where the Xerox Alto was developed, a forerunner of much of the PC technology taken for granted today. The Alto had a graphical user interface and a mouse, and was the model on which first the Macintosh, then Windows were based. It was also fully network-capable: the Ethernet was another Xerox PARC invention. Many Alto system engineers later worked on the Apple Macintosh. Only around 1,000 examples of the Alto were built; it was a prototype and was never launched on the market. Date of manufacture: 1973
The January 1975 issue of the magazine Popular Electronics featured the forerunner of the first personal computer, the Altair 8800, which had been designed by Ed Roberts and his company MITS. It was available as a kit for 397 US dollars, making it the first computer that ordinary consumers could afford and marking the advent of widespread PC use. Incidentally, the Altair's name comes from a TV series. The twelve-year-old daughter of editor Les Solomon said: “Call it Altair. That's where the Enterprise is heading tonight.“ Date of manufacture: 1975
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple on 1 April 1976. Soon afterwards, they presented their first computer: the Apple I. A total of only 200 Apple I computers were made. Jobs and Wozniak built it in Jobs's parents' garage in Los Altos, California and sold it for $666. The Apple I was actually just a circuit board. Users had to make their own housing for it and add input and output devices themselves. There are still around 70 Apple I computers in existence worldwide. Date of manufacture: 1976
The Apple II was the first “personal“ desktop computer to achieve commercial success. In contrast to the Apple I, the main board was supplied in a plastic housing together with a keyboard, a monitor and software.  The Apple Writer word processor and VisiCalc spreadsheet software were key to its success. The Apple II marked the start of Apple's rise to become the world's most successful company. Date of manufacture: 1977
The computer centre from the Sachsenwerk in Dresden is part of a system that was only shut down in 1993. It played a role in GDR computer history and a part in the success story of a major computer system. The Einheitliches System Elektronischer Rechenanlagen (standardized system of electronic computers) is the functional replica of an IBM computer: ESER 1055 is compatible with the 370/155 in terms of hardware and software alike. These computer systems were built until well into the 1980s. Date of manufacture: about 1979
Whenever computers were mentioned in the 1960s and 1970s, IBM was the name on everyone's lips. Despite this, the manufacturing giant was so slow to react that it almost missed out on the personal computer revolution, eventually launching its own PC 5150 in August 1981. The device proved an immediate hit, becoming an office mainstay. After all, it was a product of THE computer company, a fact which engendered trust among businesses that had not had any faith in the models available on the market thus far. The IBM PC, which ran with Microsoft's DOS operating system, provided the industry standard that had been lacking for so long. Date of manufacture: 1984
When Adam Osborne founded his computer firm, he was already well-known on the burgeoning home-computer scene thanks to numerous books and articles he had published. Although others before him had toyed with the idea of building a portable computer, his model, the Osborne 1, was the first on the market. Compared with today’s laptops, the Osborne 1 was extremely heavy and unwieldy. Despite this drawback, it proved a big success and almost became a cult object. Unfortunately, Osborne’s company went bankrupt in 1983. Date of manufacture: 1983
Commodore presented the C64 in 1982. Two years after its launch, four million units had already been sold, breaking all previous records for computer sales. Ultimately, a total of over 20 million C64 computers were sold throughout the world. The C64 was sometimes referred to as the “breadbox“ or even the “neck rest“ due to its shape. Date of manufacture: 1982
Motorola launched the first commercial mobile phone in 1983: the Dynatac 8000X. This bulky forebear of today's mobile phones weighed almost 750 grams and cost around $400. Date of manufacture: 1983
Apple launched the Macintosh on 24 January 1984. The Mac broke with all the previously accepted notions about PCs. When Jef Raskin, the father of the Mac, proposed the project in 1979, his idea was to design a computer that was geared to people. The Mac enabled normal users to become acquainted with the graphical user interface featuring desktop, mouse and windows. All they had to do beforehand was to unpack it and plug it in. Although the Mac lost out to the IBM PCs in the office environment, it revolutionised the entire graphic design industry. Date of manufacture: 1984
The Cray-2 was the fastest computer in the world in 1985. It weighed 2.5 tonnes. It was supplied as a supercomputer with up to four processors, a peak performance of 2 GFLOPS, 2 GB of memory and a maximum clock speed of 4.1 ns. It is notable for its striking design. A total of 27 units were sold. Date of manufacture: 1985
The Nintendo Game Boy proved to be one of the most successful products in the company’s history. The hand-held video game device was launched on the market in a plain grey-and-white version in 1989. Its robust technology, ease of operation and low battery consumption all helped to make it the biggest-selling console of the time. Although the Game Boy was initially only available with the game Tetris, strangely enough this became part of its appeal: it wasn’t just for hard-core players, but for everyone. The Game Boy was manufactured until 2002 and 120 million devices were sold in all. Date of manufacture: about 1990
The Newton was Apple’s attempt to create a revolutionary new device. A feature of the PDA (Private Digital Assistant) was handwriting recognition software; the device also came with a stylus which was supposed to make entering text child’s play. The touch-sensitive screen would detect characters and words automatically as they were written. However, this feature never really worked properly at market launch, something which gave rise to less than glowing reviews in the press. The project was halted in 1998 when company founder Steve Jobs re-joined the company. Date of manufacture: 1993
Robot soccer represents a major challenge for researchers in the field of artificial intelligence. A proving ground for the state of science in this field, it is also a means of promoting university-level education. Since 1997, international RoboCup matches featuring research teams from all over the world have been held in various leagues. This model – a third-generation, Middle Size League robot – belongs to the Fraunhofer Institut. Each robot has its own sensors and can make decisions completely autonomously. The robots can, however, communicate wirelessly with one another and with a computer. Date of manufacture: 1999
The robot dog AIBO was perhaps the most technically sophisticated toy ever to be created by its Japanese manufacturer Sony: the battery-operated dog came with 18 electrically controlled joints, microphones, loudspeakers, emotion display, 64-bit processor and a balance system to enable it to stand up. Date of manufacture: 1999
Lauron stands for “LAUfROboter Neuronal gesteuert” (English: “Walking Robot, Neural Controlled”). The walking robot (the 3rd generation of which is on show) was developed in order to research statically stable walking in rough terrain. Its movements are biologically inspired, mimicking those of a stick insect. Each leg can respond semi-autonomously to impulses; the movements are coordinated at a higher level. Lauron is able to gather information about its environment and plan a path towards a given goal autonomously. While walking, the robot uses sensors to detect potential obstacles and then either walks over or around them. Date of manufacture: 1999
Using a camera, this 2nd-generation face robot scans the viewer’s facial expression, which is then recognised and interpreted by software based on a neural net. From a repertoire of pre-programmed responses, the robot’s mechanism is activated and a matching facial expression is generated. The mechanical and electronic parts of the Mark II were covered by a silicone skin to create a robot face that looks as human as possible. Fumio Hara, Science University of Tokyo, Japan, 2001
RoboThespian is a life-sized humanoid robot designed for human interaction in public environments. It can sing as well as tell jokes and recite text passages. Visitors can choose from a selection of programmed text sequences for the metallic creation to read out, accompanied by a range of gestures. Date of manufacture: 2011
The earliest documents written on clay tablets in cuneiform script were used for tax and accounting purposes. Records were kept of the bread rations paid to workers, for example. The precise history is not known. About 2350-2100 BC
Wilhelm Schickard wanted to “mechanise” the laborious and error-prone task of calculating astronomical tables. In 1623 he had two calculating machines built to his specifications in a mechanic’s workshop in Tübingen – one for himself, the other for Johannes Kepler. The practical benefits of his “calculating clock” appeared somewhat dubious at the time, as the system based on logarithmic tables was superior. Regrettably, both machines were destroyed in a fire at the workshop and the invention was forgotten. This reconstruction of the machine by Baron von Freytag Löringhoff was completed in 1957. Date of manufacture: 1957
In 1678, French watchmaker René Grillet presented the “Machine arithmétique” which was capable of carrying out all four basic arithmetic operations. Constructed largely out of paper, the invention used so-called Napier’s rods that had been around since 1617 for the calculation process. It is an excellent example of the early days of mechanical calculation and an ancestor of today’s pocket calculator. Date of manufacture: 1678
This calculating machine, invented by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, was built in the years from 1690 to 1720. It represents a historic milestone in the development of mechanical calculating machines because it was the first to perform all four arithmetic operations. Leibniz's operating mechanism, known as the stepped cylinder or Leibniz wheel, allowed multiplication to be performed mechanically and remained an indispensable component of mechanical calculators for over 200 years. Functioning replica of the only remaining original (at the Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek in Hanover), built to plans by N. Joachim Lehmann. HNF replica: 1995
The device popularly known as the “Chess Turk“ was built in 1769 by Austrian court official Wolfgang von Kempelen in such a way as to convince spectators that they were watching an “automated chess player“. In fact an individual of quite normal size sat inside and controlled the gripper arm with the aid of levers and cable winches. Magnetised chess pieces and small magnetic pins on the underside of the board enabled the moves to be followed by the person within. Functional HNF replica: 2004
An Arithmometer is a mechanical calculating machine invented by the Frenchman Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar (1785-1870). It was the world's first calculating machine to go into series production. As well as addition and subtraction, it could perform multiplication and division by means of repeated addition and subtraction. This luxury version of the calculating machine was a gift to the king of Portugal. Date of manufacture: about 1855
The Hansen Writing Ball was the world's first typewriter to be produced commercially, albeit in small batches. It was developed in 1865 by Rasmus Johann Malling-Hansen, a Danish pastor and teacher of deaf-mutes. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a well-known user. Date of manufacture: about 1878
The name Morse and the code of the same name became synonymous with telegraphy. His procedure for transmitting text information via a series of pulses (dots and dashes) and the silences between them helped the technology achieve a breakthrough. The most important components of the Ericsson Morse Telegraph Type TA 100 for receiving messages (“sounder”) are an electromagnet, an armature, a mechanical clockwork to move the paper tape, a coloured stylus and a roll of paper. A Morse key is required to transmit messages. Date of manufacture: about 1880
In 1883, Englishman Joseph Edmondson obtained a patent for a circular calculating machine based on the stepped-drum mechanism. His design was based on Thomas de Colmar’s simple “arithmomètre”. The advantage of Edmondson’s machine was that it was not limited to a certain number of decimal places if a division produced a remainder. Date of manufacture: about 1885
This machine is a replica of the first Hollerith machine that was used so successfully to complete the first census in the USA thanks to the use of punched cards. It provided a much faster way of counting the vast amount of data gathered. The Hollerith machine consists of two hinged plates, a switch panel with relays, a counting device with 40 counters and a sorting box. When one of the pins on the plates meets a hole in the punched card, a circuit is completed and an electric pulse causes the pointer of a counter to advance accordingly. The respective compartment of the sorting box is also opened, and the operator can place the analysed punched card into it by hand. Functional HNF replica: 2006
The comptometer was the first exclusively key-driven mechanical calculator. The “wooden box” was a precursor to the full-keyboard adding machines built between 1886 and 1904. According to its manufacturer’s promotional material, it was the world’s first adding machine with a practical application. Date of manufacture: about 1900
The Underwood No. 5, which appeared in 1900, was the first classic modern typewriter (with visible text, upper- and lower-case letters and tab stops). It set the standard for all subsequent typewriters worldwide until they were superseded first by IBM electric typewriters, which used a type ball instead of type bars, and then by PCs. Date of manufacture: 1915
This extremely compact table-top telephone with a quirky design was also known as the “Pferdefuss” or “horse’s hoof” in Bavaria due to its shape. It was the approved standard dialling apparatus only in Bavaria. Incidentally, the device was referred to as the “cow’s hoof” in Prussia. Date of manufacture: from 1925 onwards
In 1879 the Ritty brothers filed a patent application for the first cash register in the USA. Businessman John H. Patterson acquired the rights to manufacture cash registers in 1884 and founded the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio. The NCR 400 series models were among the standard cash registers in use at the time. They were favoured by retail outlets because of their robust nature. Model 422 has five rows of keys and features 42 keys in all. The indicators are in English and show sums of pounds and pence. Date of manufacture: 1910
The Kryha Liliput is a very rare cipher machine in pocket-watch format. The machine consisted of two concentric rings, each featuring an alphabet and numbers. The user would operate it by pushing a lever to step the inner ring a random number of places against the outer ring, thereby changing the relationship between the two. Although Kryha’s devices were a commercial success, they were cryptographically weak as the period lengths of the codes were generally quite short. The Kryha Liliput was cryptographically compatible with its “big sister”, the Kryha Standard. Date of manufacture: about 1926
The legendary Enigma cipher machine was developed in the early 1920s by the German engineer Artur Scherbius in Berlin and initially marketed for commercial purposes. The machine has three rotors, each of which performs an alphabetic substitution cipher. By combining the rotors in series and using a plugboard with variable wiring, very complex scrambling of the message can be achieved. Date of manufacture: about 1942
The T52 e was a World War II German cipher machine and teleprinter. Due to its size and weight, however, it was only ever used as a stationary device. Unlike the Enigma, messages were encrypted and deciphered automatically. On 20 July 1944, the resistance group led by Claus von Stauffenberg used the device to issue encrypted commands for Operation Valkyrie, the plot to assassinate Hitler. Date of manufacture: 1942
The first functioning electronic computer consisted of 40 panels with almost 18,000 vacuum tubes. J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly were commissioned to construct a vacuum-tube computer by the US Army in 1943. ENIAC, which was 1,000 times faster than other calculating machines, was developed by the young scientists at the Moore School of Electronics in Philadelphia. It required just eight hours to perform calculations that had previously taken an entire year. The high processing capacity was needed by the US Army to calculate artillery firing tables. Mauchly wanted to use ENIAC’s speed to produce more accurate weather forecasts, which is why its inventors built a “universal machine“. Date of manufacture: 1946
The history of IBM in Germany dates back to 1910, with the founding of DEHOMAG (Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH) in Berlin. The company was renamed IBM Deutschland GmbH in 1949, when it relocated to Böblingen. The D 11 tabulator, which was manufactured from 1935 onwards, was the first German machine of its kind. Used for punched card analysis, its ability to read, count, compute and print cards made it the mainstay of many so-called Hollerith departments. The machine proved a milestone in the development of punched card technology: It was on sale until 1960, latterly as the IBM D11 Type 450. Around 1,100 D 11 models were sold in all. Date of manufacture: between 1949 and 1960
In the early days of telephony, calls were connected manually by a switchboard operator . The next stage of development saw the introduction of automatic telephone exchanges which dispensed with the need for human intervention. A local telephone exchange establishes connections between the subscribers of a local network. In this case, an analogue electrical signal is switched via electromechanical components. If the first digit dialled by the subscriber is a zero, he or she is put through to the trunk or long-distance exchange. The electromechanical system exhibited here was in use in Hagen-Eilpe until 1994, when it was replaced by a digital switching system.
The W48 desktop telephone was developed for the Deutsche Bundespost by Siemens & Halske in 1948 in the western zone of occupied Germany and produced in very large quantities. Date of manufacture: 1954
This is the first computer developed by Heinz Nixdorf. He started work in July 1952 and it took him 15 months to complete. The electronic balancer is equipped with vacuum tubes. It is a one-off machine built especially for materials management at Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), where it supplemented the work of a Remington Rand tabulating machine, whose mechanical mode of operation was no match for the much faster Nixdorf electronics. Date of manufacture: 1953
The accounting machine Exacta-Continental 6000 was the ultimate in electromechanical office equipment: it could manage all accounting tasks with ease. It came with an optional Multitronic electronic multiplication unit manufactured by Heinz Nixdorf’s Labor für Impulstechnik, which signalled the beginning of a new data processing era from 1958 onwards. Date of manufacture: about 1958
The Zuse Z 11 was the first programmable relay computer from ZUSE KG to go into series production. It was used for mathematical calculations, its hard-wired programs having been designed for surveying tasks in particular. The last in a development series of electro-mechanically controlled computer systems, it contained relays as binary switching elements. These may have been slower than vacuum tubes, but were also more reliable, more durable and less expensive. Date of manufacture: 1958
The Curta is the only mechanical pocket calculator that is capable of performing all four basic arithmetic operations. The inventor of this precision-engineered masterpiece was an Austrian, Curt Herzstark (1902-1988). Date of manufacture: about 1965
The Anita was the first all-electronic, tube-based desktop calculator. Not only was it completely silent, but it operated much faster than mechanical machines, and was maintenance-free too. However, tubes were not an optimum technical solution for desktop calculators as they used a lot of electricity, were relatively susceptible to breakage and were expensive to produce. For this reason, this technology remained unique to the Anita. Mass production of such devices only became an option once transistors started to be used from around 1964 onwards. Date of manufacture: 1961
The linotype machine was a “line casting” machine used in printing. It replaced the extremely time-consuming manual type-setting process. The machine, which was patented in 1886, mechanised the setting and casting of letters. The setter entered text at a keyboard: every time a key was pressed, a matrix of the chosen letter fell into position from a magazine. The assembled line of matrices was cast as a single piece of type metal and filled with liquid lead once the spaces between words had been automatically adjusted. After cooling, this produced “A LINE OF TYPES”. Date of manufacture: 1962
At the start of the 1950s, VEB Optima Büromaschinenwerk Erfurt was asked to develop a typewriter for China as part of e socialist initiative to support allied nations. The Erfurt manufacturers based their design on the box-type typewriter first sold in 1917 by Nippon Typewriter Co. Ltd. in Tokyo. The “Chinese Optima” made its début in 1953. Subsequently, the Chinese bicycle factory “Flying Dove” took over production of the device, two versions of which were produced in China under the “Flying Dove” brand until the end of 1992. Date of manufacture: 1992
This computer originated from the Gemini II mission; it featured in an unmanned space flight on 19.01.1965. The Mercury and Gemini space programmes laid the groundwork for the moon landing. From 1963 onwards, the Gemini missions tested orbital coupling manoeuvres necessary to achieve rendezvous and docking. Safe, accurate manoeuvring was only possible with the aid of a computer. IBM’s commission to develop the on-board computer was worth $26.6 million. It was the first computer to have a magnetic core memory so that data was not destroyed when read out. It was also IBM’s first computer to be fully transistorised. The computer proved reliable in operation. Date of manufacture: about 1964
In 1965, the Digital Equipment Corporation presented the PDP-8, thereby marking the beginning of the mini-computer era. Priced at just 18,200 Dollars, this general-purpose computer was robust enough to be used in both production and laboratory environments. Some 10,000 of them were sold within the space of 10 years; by 1975, the PDP-8 cost just 2,600 Dollars. A whole variety of manufacturers tapped into the new market, building computers based on the PDP-8 for use in process and manufacturing technology and for controlling experiments in research. By 1975, more than 30 companies in the West German market alone were selling mini-computers. Date of manufacture: 1965
In 1964, Nixdorf developed the electronics for a desk-top calculator produced by office equipment manufacturer Wanderer, later building the components itself under licence. The “Wanderer Conti” was presented to the public for the first time in 1965 at the Hanover Trade Fair. It was the world’s first fully electronic desk-top calculator with printing output. In terms of design, the four-species calculator was a bona fide computer, boasting an arithmetic unit, a magnetic core memory, a printer and a threaded read-only memory (ROM). The Conti enabled Nixdorf to gain a foothold in the US market when the Chicago-based Victor Comptometer Corporation placed an order worth DM 100 million for the machine in 1968. Date of manufacture: 1966
The Olivetti Valentine is a mechanical typewriter that stands out largely by virtue of its unconventional appearance. It is regarded as a milestone in industrial design and is a sought-after collector’s item. Date of manufacture: early 1970s
The great success enjoyed by Nixdorf at the end of the 1960s and start of the 1970s was based largely on the computers of the 820 series. These were universal computers for companies of all sizes and could be used for almost any application area thanks to their modular construction and consistent application of the modular design system. Date of manufacture: 1974
Canon Canola Pocketronic, Sanyo ICC-82D, Sharp EL-8: The first battery-operated electronic pocket calculators were brought out virtually simultaneously in 1970 by Japanese firms Sanyo, Sharp and Canon. However, the "heart" of these first pocket calculators – the microchip – was produced by US companies such as Texas Instruments and Rockwell. Texas Instruments had developed the first portable prototype as early as 1967. But the Cal-Tech, as it was known, was merely supposed to demonstrate the power of the new chip and never went into series production. The huge sales potential of the pocket calculator had yet to be recognised, especially since it was still too expensive to produce. It was for this reason that Texas Instruments sold the technical design of the Cal-Tech to Canon, and only brought out its own pocket calculator in 1972. Date of manufacture: 1970
The Odyssey console laid the foundations for the video game era. In 1966 Ralph Baer, a US engineer of German descent, filed a patent for a kind of ping-pong game. This was ultimately granted in 1968. It was not until 1972 that the game was distributed with a gaming console by Magnavox. Poor marketing meant that although the video game wasn’t a commercial flop, it wasn’t a resounding financial success either. Date of manufacture: 1972
The HP-35 was the world's first scientific pocket calculator. Before it came along, slide rules and logarithm tables were required for trigonometric and exponential functions. Pocket calculators were only capable of the four basic arithmetic operations. The price for an HP-35 in 1972 was about DM 2,000. Date of manufacture: 1972
In 1970, the photocopier company Xerox founded a research centre in Palo Alto known as PARC. This is where the Xerox Alto was developed, a forerunner of much of the PC technology taken for granted today. The Alto had a graphical user interface and a mouse, and was the model on which first the Macintosh, then Windows were based. It was also fully network-capable: the Ethernet was another Xerox PARC invention. Many Alto system engineers later worked on the Apple Macintosh. Only around 1,000 examples of the Alto were built; it was a prototype and was never launched on the market. Date of manufacture: 1973
The January 1975 issue of the magazine Popular Electronics featured the forerunner of the first personal computer, the Altair 8800, which had been designed by Ed Roberts and his company MITS. It was available as a kit for 397 US dollars, making it the first computer that ordinary consumers could afford and marking the advent of widespread PC use. Incidentally, the Altair's name comes from a TV series. The twelve-year-old daughter of editor Les Solomon said: “Call it Altair. That's where the Enterprise is heading tonight.“ Date of manufacture: 1975
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple on 1 April 1976. Soon afterwards, they presented their first computer: the Apple I. A total of only 200 Apple I computers were made. Jobs and Wozniak built it in Jobs's parents' garage in Los Altos, California and sold it for $666. The Apple I was actually just a circuit board. Users had to make their own housing for it and add input and output devices themselves. There are still around 70 Apple I computers in existence worldwide. Date of manufacture: 1976
The Apple II was the first “personal“ desktop computer to achieve commercial success. In contrast to the Apple I, the main board was supplied in a plastic housing together with a keyboard, a monitor and software.  The Apple Writer word processor and VisiCalc spreadsheet software were key to its success. The Apple II marked the start of Apple's rise to become the world's most successful company. Date of manufacture: 1977
The computer centre from the Sachsenwerk in Dresden is part of a system that was only shut down in 1993. It played a role in GDR computer history and a part in the success story of a major computer system. The Einheitliches System Elektronischer Rechenanlagen (standardized system of electronic computers) is the functional replica of an IBM computer: ESER 1055 is compatible with the 370/155 in terms of hardware and software alike. These computer systems were built until well into the 1980s. Date of manufacture: about 1979
Whenever computers were mentioned in the 1960s and 1970s, IBM was the name on everyone's lips. Despite this, the manufacturing giant was so slow to react that it almost missed out on the personal computer revolution, eventually launching its own PC 5150 in August 1981. The device proved an immediate hit, becoming an office mainstay. After all, it was a product of THE computer company, a fact which engendered trust among businesses that had not had any faith in the models available on the market thus far. The IBM PC, which ran with Microsoft's DOS operating system, provided the industry standard that had been lacking for so long. Date of manufacture: 1984
When Adam Osborne founded his computer firm, he was already well-known on the burgeoning home-computer scene thanks to numerous books and articles he had published. Although others before him had toyed with the idea of building a portable computer, his model, the Osborne 1, was the first on the market. Compared with today’s laptops, the Osborne 1 was extremely heavy and unwieldy. Despite this drawback, it proved a big success and almost became a cult object. Unfortunately, Osborne’s company went bankrupt in 1983. Date of manufacture: 1983
Commodore presented the C64 in 1982. Two years after its launch, four million units had already been sold, breaking all previous records for computer sales. Ultimately, a total of over 20 million C64 computers were sold throughout the world. The C64 was sometimes referred to as the “breadbox“ or even the “neck rest“ due to its shape. Date of manufacture: 1982
Motorola launched the first commercial mobile phone in 1983: the Dynatac 8000X. This bulky forebear of today's mobile phones weighed almost 750 grams and cost around $400. Date of manufacture: 1983
Apple launched the Macintosh on 24 January 1984. The Mac broke with all the previously accepted notions about PCs. When Jef Raskin, the father of the Mac, proposed the project in 1979, his idea was to design a computer that was geared to people. The Mac enabled normal users to become acquainted with the graphical user interface featuring desktop, mouse and windows. All they had to do beforehand was to unpack it and plug it in. Although the Mac lost out to the IBM PCs in the office environment, it revolutionised the entire graphic design industry. Date of manufacture: 1984
The Cray-2 was the fastest computer in the world in 1985. It weighed 2.5 tonnes. It was supplied as a supercomputer with up to four processors, a peak performance of 2 GFLOPS, 2 GB of memory and a maximum clock speed of 4.1 ns. It is notable for its striking design. A total of 27 units were sold. Date of manufacture: 1985
The Nintendo Game Boy proved to be one of the most successful products in the company’s history. The hand-held video game device was launched on the market in a plain grey-and-white version in 1989. Its robust technology, ease of operation and low battery consumption all helped to make it the biggest-selling console of the time. Although the Game Boy was initially only available with the game Tetris, strangely enough this became part of its appeal: it wasn’t just for hard-core players, but for everyone. The Game Boy was manufactured until 2002 and 120 million devices were sold in all. Date of manufacture: about 1990
The Newton was Apple’s attempt to create a revolutionary new device. A feature of the PDA (Private Digital Assistant) was handwriting recognition software; the device also came with a stylus which was supposed to make entering text child’s play. The touch-sensitive screen would detect characters and words automatically as they were written. However, this feature never really worked properly at market launch, something which gave rise to less than glowing reviews in the press. The project was halted in 1998 when company founder Steve Jobs re-joined the company. Date of manufacture: 1993
Robot soccer represents a major challenge for researchers in the field of artificial intelligence. A proving ground for the state of science in this field, it is also a means of promoting university-level education. Since 1997, international RoboCup matches featuring research teams from all over the world have been held in various leagues. This model – a third-generation, Middle Size League robot – belongs to the Fraunhofer Institut. Each robot has its own sensors and can make decisions completely autonomously. The robots can, however, communicate wirelessly with one another and with a computer. Date of manufacture: 1999
The robot dog AIBO was perhaps the most technically sophisticated toy ever to be created by its Japanese manufacturer Sony: the battery-operated dog came with 18 electrically controlled joints, microphones, loudspeakers, emotion display, 64-bit processor and a balance system to enable it to stand up. Date of manufacture: 1999
Lauron stands for “LAUfROboter Neuronal gesteuert” (English: “Walking Robot, Neural Controlled”). The walking robot (the 3rd generation of which is on show) was developed in order to research statically stable walking in rough terrain. Its movements are biologically inspired, mimicking those of a stick insect. Each leg can respond semi-autonomously to impulses; the movements are coordinated at a higher level. Lauron is able to gather information about its environment and plan a path towards a given goal autonomously. While walking, the robot uses sensors to detect potential obstacles and then either walks over or around them. Date of manufacture: 1999
Using a camera, this 2nd-generation face robot scans the viewer’s facial expression, which is then recognised and interpreted by software based on a neural net. From a repertoire of pre-programmed responses, the robot’s mechanism is activated and a matching facial expression is generated. The mechanical and electronic parts of the Mark II were covered by a silicone skin to create a robot face that looks as human as possible. Fumio Hara, Science University of Tokyo, Japan, 2001
RoboThespian is a life-sized humanoid robot designed for human interaction in public environments. It can sing as well as tell jokes and recite text passages. Visitors can choose from a selection of programmed text sequences for the metallic creation to read out, accompanied by a range of gestures. Date of manufacture: 2011
The earliest documents written on clay tablets in cuneiform script were used for tax and accounting purposes. Records were kept of the bread rations paid to workers, for example. The precise history is not known. About 2350-2100 BC
Wilhelm Schickard wanted to “mechanise” the laborious and error-prone task of calculating astronomical tables. In 1623 he had two calculating machines built to his specifications in a mechanic’s workshop in Tübingen – one for himself, the other for Johannes Kepler. The practical benefits of his “calculating clock” appeared somewhat dubious at the time, as the system based on logarithmic tables was superior. Regrettably, both machines were destroyed in a fire at the workshop and the invention was forgotten. This reconstruction of the machine by Baron von Freytag Löringhoff was completed in 1957. Date of manufacture: 1957
In 1678, French watchmaker René Grillet presented the “Machine arithmétique” which was capable of carrying out all four basic arithmetic operations. Constructed largely out of paper, the invention used so-called Napier’s rods that had been around since 1617 for the calculation process. It is an excellent example of the early days of mechanical calculation and an ancestor of today’s pocket calculator. Date of manufacture: 1678
This calculating machine, invented by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, was built in the years from 1690 to 1720. It represents a historic milestone in the development of mechanical calculating machines because it was the first to perform all four arithmetic operations. Leibniz's operating mechanism, known as the stepped cylinder or Leibniz wheel, allowed multiplication to be performed mechanically and remained an indispensable component of mechanical calculators for over 200 years. Functioning replica of the only remaining original (at the Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek in Hanover), built to plans by N. Joachim Lehmann. HNF replica: 1995
The device popularly known as the “Chess Turk“ was built in 1769 by Austrian court official Wolfgang von Kempelen in such a way as to convince spectators that they were watching an “automated chess player“. In fact an individual of quite normal size sat inside and controlled the gripper arm with the aid of levers and cable winches. Magnetised chess pieces and small magnetic pins on the underside of the board enabled the moves to be followed by the person within. Functional HNF replica: 2004
An Arithmometer is a mechanical calculating machine invented by the Frenchman Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar (1785-1870). It was the world's first calculating machine to go into series production. As well as addition and subtraction, it could perform multiplication and division by means of repeated addition and subtraction. This luxury version of the calculating machine was a gift to the king of Portugal. Date of manufacture: about 1855
The Hansen Writing Ball was the world's first typewriter to be produced commercially, albeit in small batches. It was developed in 1865 by Rasmus Johann Malling-Hansen, a Danish pastor and teacher of deaf-mutes. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a well-known user. Date of manufacture: about 1878
The name Morse and the code of the same name became synonymous with telegraphy. His procedure for transmitting text information via a series of pulses (dots and dashes) and the silences between them helped the technology achieve a breakthrough. The most important components of the Ericsson Morse Telegraph Type TA 100 for receiving messages (“sounder”) are an electromagnet, an armature, a mechanical clockwork to move the paper tape, a coloured stylus and a roll of paper. A Morse key is required to transmit messages. Date of manufacture: about 1880
In 1883, Englishman Joseph Edmondson obtained a patent for a circular calculating machine based on the stepped-drum mechanism. His design was based on Thomas de Colmar’s simple “arithmomètre”. The advantage of Edmondson’s machine was that it was not limited to a certain number of decimal places if a division produced a remainder. Date of manufacture: about 1885
This machine is a replica of the first Hollerith machine that was used so successfully to complete the first census in the USA thanks to the use of punched cards. It provided a much faster way of counting the vast amount of data gathered. The Hollerith machine consists of two hinged plates, a switch panel with relays, a counting device with 40 counters and a sorting box. When one of the pins on the plates meets a hole in the punched card, a circuit is completed and an electric pulse causes the pointer of a counter to advance accordingly. The respective compartment of the sorting box is also opened, and the operator can place the analysed punched card into it by hand. Functional HNF replica: 2006
The comptometer was the first exclusively key-driven mechanical calculator. The “wooden box” was a precursor to the full-keyboard adding machines built between 1886 and 1904. According to its manufacturer’s promotional material, it was the world’s first adding machine with a practical application. Date of manufacture: about 1900
The Underwood No. 5, which appeared in 1900, was the first classic modern typewriter (with visible text, upper- and lower-case letters and tab stops). It set the standard for all subsequent typewriters worldwide until they were superseded first by IBM electric typewriters, which used a type ball instead of type bars, and then by PCs. Date of manufacture: 1915
This extremely compact table-top telephone with a quirky design was also known as the “Pferdefuss” or “horse’s hoof” in Bavaria due to its shape. It was the approved standard dialling apparatus only in Bavaria. Incidentally, the device was referred to as the “cow’s hoof” in Prussia. Date of manufacture: from 1925 onwards
In 1879 the Ritty brothers filed a patent application for the first cash register in the USA. Businessman John H. Patterson acquired the rights to manufacture cash registers in 1884 and founded the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio. The NCR 400 series models were among the standard cash registers in use at the time. They were favoured by retail outlets because of their robust nature. Model 422 has five rows of keys and features 42 keys in all. The indicators are in English and show sums of pounds and pence. Date of manufacture: 1910
The Kryha Liliput is a very rare cipher machine in pocket-watch format. The machine consisted of two concentric rings, each featuring an alphabet and numbers. The user would operate it by pushing a lever to step the inner ring a random number of places against the outer ring, thereby changing the relationship between the two. Although Kryha’s devices were a commercial success, they were cryptographically weak as the period lengths of the codes were generally quite short. The Kryha Liliput was cryptographically compatible with its “big sister”, the Kryha Standard. Date of manufacture: about 1926
The legendary Enigma cipher machine was developed in the early 1920s by the German engineer Artur Scherbius in Berlin and initially marketed for commercial purposes. The machine has three rotors, each of which performs an alphabetic substitution cipher. By combining the rotors in series and using a plugboard with variable wiring, very complex scrambling of the message can be achieved. Date of manufacture: about 1942
The T52 e was a World War II German cipher machine and teleprinter. Due to its size and weight, however, it was only ever used as a stationary device. Unlike the Enigma, messages were encrypted and deciphered automatically. On 20 July 1944, the resistance group led by Claus von Stauffenberg used the device to issue encrypted commands for Operation Valkyrie, the plot to assassinate Hitler. Date of manufacture: 1942
The first functioning electronic computer consisted of 40 panels with almost 18,000 vacuum tubes. J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly were commissioned to construct a vacuum-tube computer by the US Army in 1943. ENIAC, which was 1,000 times faster than other calculating machines, was developed by the young scientists at the Moore School of Electronics in Philadelphia. It required just eight hours to perform calculations that had previously taken an entire year. The high processing capacity was needed by the US Army to calculate artillery firing tables. Mauchly wanted to use ENIAC’s speed to produce more accurate weather forecasts, which is why its inventors built a “universal machine“. Date of manufacture: 1946
The history of IBM in Germany dates back to 1910, with the founding of DEHOMAG (Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH) in Berlin. The company was renamed IBM Deutschland GmbH in 1949, when it relocated to Böblingen. The D 11 tabulator, which was manufactured from 1935 onwards, was the first German machine of its kind. Used for punched card analysis, its ability to read, count, compute and print cards made it the mainstay of many so-called Hollerith departments. The machine proved a milestone in the development of punched card technology: It was on sale until 1960, latterly as the IBM D11 Type 450. Around 1,100 D 11 models were sold in all. Date of manufacture: between 1949 and 1960
In the early days of telephony, calls were connected manually by a switchboard operator . The next stage of development saw the introduction of automatic telephone exchanges which dispensed with the need for human intervention. A local telephone exchange establishes connections between the subscribers of a local network. In this case, an analogue electrical signal is switched via electromechanical components. If the first digit dialled by the subscriber is a zero, he or she is put through to the trunk or long-distance exchange. The electromechanical system exhibited here was in use in Hagen-Eilpe until 1994, when it was replaced by a digital switching system.
The W48 desktop telephone was developed for the Deutsche Bundespost by Siemens & Halske in 1948 in the western zone of occupied Germany and produced in very large quantities. Date of manufacture: 1954
This is the first computer developed by Heinz Nixdorf. He started work in July 1952 and it took him 15 months to complete. The electronic balancer is equipped with vacuum tubes. It is a one-off machine built especially for materials management at Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), where it supplemented the work of a Remington Rand tabulating machine, whose mechanical mode of operation was no match for the much faster Nixdorf electronics. Date of manufacture: 1953
The accounting machine Exacta-Continental 6000 was the ultimate in electromechanical office equipment: it could manage all accounting tasks with ease. It came with an optional Multitronic electronic multiplication unit manufactured by Heinz Nixdorf’s Labor für Impulstechnik, which signalled the beginning of a new data processing era from 1958 onwards. Date of manufacture: about 1958
The Zuse Z 11 was the first programmable relay computer from ZUSE KG to go into series production. It was used for mathematical calculations, its hard-wired programs having been designed for surveying tasks in particular. The last in a development series of electro-mechanically controlled computer systems, it contained relays as binary switching elements. These may have been slower than vacuum tubes, but were also more reliable, more durable and less expensive. Date of manufacture: 1958
The Curta is the only mechanical pocket calculator that is capable of performing all four basic arithmetic operations. The inventor of this precision-engineered masterpiece was an Austrian, Curt Herzstark (1902-1988). Date of manufacture: about 1965
The Anita was the first all-electronic, tube-based desktop calculator. Not only was it completely silent, but it operated much faster than mechanical machines, and was maintenance-free too. However, tubes were not an optimum technical solution for desktop calculators as they used a lot of electricity, were relatively susceptible to breakage and were expensive to produce. For this reason, this technology remained unique to the Anita. Mass production of such devices only became an option once transistors started to be used from around 1964 onwards. Date of manufacture: 1961
The linotype machine was a “line casting” machine used in printing. It replaced the extremely time-consuming manual type-setting process. The machine, which was patented in 1886, mechanised the setting and casting of letters. The setter entered text at a keyboard: every time a key was pressed, a matrix of the chosen letter fell into position from a magazine. The assembled line of matrices was cast as a single piece of type metal and filled with liquid lead once the spaces between words had been automatically adjusted. After cooling, this produced “A LINE OF TYPES”. Date of manufacture: 1962
At the start of the 1950s, VEB Optima Büromaschinenwerk Erfurt was asked to develop a typewriter for China as part of e socialist initiative to support allied nations. The Erfurt manufacturers based their design on the box-type typewriter first sold in 1917 by Nippon Typewriter Co. Ltd. in Tokyo. The “Chinese Optima” made its début in 1953. Subsequently, the Chinese bicycle factory “Flying Dove” took over production of the device, two versions of which were produced in China under the “Flying Dove” brand until the end of 1992. Date of manufacture: 1992
This computer originated from the Gemini II mission; it featured in an unmanned space flight on 19.01.1965. The Mercury and Gemini space programmes laid the groundwork for the moon landing. From 1963 onwards, the Gemini missions tested orbital coupling manoeuvres necessary to achieve rendezvous and docking. Safe, accurate manoeuvring was only possible with the aid of a computer. IBM’s commission to develop the on-board computer was worth $26.6 million. It was the first computer to have a magnetic core memory so that data was not destroyed when read out. It was also IBM’s first computer to be fully transistorised. The computer proved reliable in operation. Date of manufacture: about 1964
In 1965, the Digital Equipment Corporation presented the PDP-8, thereby marking the beginning of the mini-computer era. Priced at just 18,200 Dollars, this general-purpose computer was robust enough to be used in both production and laboratory environments. Some 10,000 of them were sold within the space of 10 years; by 1975, the PDP-8 cost just 2,600 Dollars. A whole variety of manufacturers tapped into the new market, building computers based on the PDP-8 for use in process and manufacturing technology and for controlling experiments in research. By 1975, more than 30 companies in the West German market alone were selling mini-computers. Date of manufacture: 1965
In 1964, Nixdorf developed the electronics for a desk-top calculator produced by office equipment manufacturer Wanderer, later building the components itself under licence. The “Wanderer Conti” was presented to the public for the first time in 1965 at the Hanover Trade Fair. It was the world’s first fully electronic desk-top calculator with printing output. In terms of design, the four-species calculator was a bona fide computer, boasting an arithmetic unit, a magnetic core memory, a printer and a threaded read-only memory (ROM). The Conti enabled Nixdorf to gain a foothold in the US market when the Chicago-based Victor Comptometer Corporation placed an order worth DM 100 million for the machine in 1968. Date of manufacture: 1966
The Olivetti Valentine is a mechanical typewriter that stands out largely by virtue of its unconventional appearance. It is regarded as a milestone in industrial design and is a sought-after collector’s item. Date of manufacture: early 1970s
The great success enjoyed by Nixdorf at the end of the 1960s and start of the 1970s was based largely on the computers of the 820 series. These were universal computers for companies of all sizes and could be used for almost any application area thanks to their modular construction and consistent application of the modular design system. Date of manufacture: 1974
Canon Canola Pocketronic, Sanyo ICC-82D, Sharp EL-8: The first battery-operated electronic pocket calculators were brought out virtually simultaneously in 1970 by Japanese firms Sanyo, Sharp and Canon. However, the "heart" of these first pocket calculators – the microchip – was produced by US companies such as Texas Instruments and Rockwell. Texas Instruments had developed the first portable prototype as early as 1967. But the Cal-Tech, as it was known, was merely supposed to demonstrate the power of the new chip and never went into series production. The huge sales potential of the pocket calculator had yet to be recognised, especially since it was still too expensive to produce. It was for this reason that Texas Instruments sold the technical design of the Cal-Tech to Canon, and only brought out its own pocket calculator in 1972. Date of manufacture: 1970
The Odyssey console laid the foundations for the video game era. In 1966 Ralph Baer, a US engineer of German descent, filed a patent for a kind of ping-pong game. This was ultimately granted in 1968. It was not until 1972 that the game was distributed with a gaming console by Magnavox. Poor marketing meant that although the video game wasn’t a commercial flop, it wasn’t a resounding financial success either. Date of manufacture: 1972
The HP-35 was the world's first scientific pocket calculator. Before it came along, slide rules and logarithm tables were required for trigonometric and exponential functions. Pocket calculators were only capable of the four basic arithmetic operations. The price for an HP-35 in 1972 was about DM 2,000. Date of manufacture: 1972
In 1970, the photocopier company Xerox founded a research centre in Palo Alto known as PARC. This is where the Xerox Alto was developed, a forerunner of much of the PC technology taken for granted today. The Alto had a graphical user interface and a mouse, and was the model on which first the Macintosh, then Windows were based. It was also fully network-capable: the Ethernet was another Xerox PARC invention. Many Alto system engineers later worked on the Apple Macintosh. Only around 1,000 examples of the Alto were built; it was a prototype and was never launched on the market. Date of manufacture: 1973
The January 1975 issue of the magazine Popular Electronics featured the forerunner of the first personal computer, the Altair 8800, which had been designed by Ed Roberts and his company MITS. It was available as a kit for 397 US dollars, making it the first computer that ordinary consumers could afford and marking the advent of widespread PC use. Incidentally, the Altair's name comes from a TV series. The twelve-year-old daughter of editor Les Solomon said: “Call it Altair. That's where the Enterprise is heading tonight.“ Date of manufacture: 1975
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple on 1 April 1976. Soon afterwards, they presented their first computer: the Apple I. A total of only 200 Apple I computers were made. Jobs and Wozniak built it in Jobs's parents' garage in Los Altos, California and sold it for $666. The Apple I was actually just a circuit board. Users had to make their own housing for it and add input and output devices themselves. There are still around 70 Apple I computers in existence worldwide. Date of manufacture: 1976
The Apple II was the first “personal“ desktop computer to achieve commercial success. In contrast to the Apple I, the main board was supplied in a plastic housing together with a keyboard, a monitor and software.  The Apple Writer word processor and VisiCalc spreadsheet software were key to its success. The Apple II marked the start of Apple's rise to become the world's most successful company. Date of manufacture: 1977
The computer centre from the Sachsenwerk in Dresden is part of a system that was only shut down in 1993. It played a role in GDR computer history and a part in the success story of a major computer system. The Einheitliches System Elektronischer Rechenanlagen (standardized system of electronic computers) is the functional replica of an IBM computer: ESER 1055 is compatible with the 370/155 in terms of hardware and software alike. These computer systems were built until well into the 1980s. Date of manufacture: about 1979
Whenever computers were mentioned in the 1960s and 1970s, IBM was the name on everyone's lips. Despite this, the manufacturing giant was so slow to react that it almost missed out on the personal computer revolution, eventually launching its own PC 5150 in August 1981. The device proved an immediate hit, becoming an office mainstay. After all, it was a product of THE computer company, a fact which engendered trust among businesses that had not had any faith in the models available on the market thus far. The IBM PC, which ran with Microsoft's DOS operating system, provided the industry standard that had been lacking for so long. Date of manufacture: 1984
When Adam Osborne founded his computer firm, he was already well-known on the burgeoning home-computer scene thanks to numerous books and articles he had published. Although others before him had toyed with the idea of building a portable computer, his model, the Osborne 1, was the first on the market. Compared with today’s laptops, the Osborne 1 was extremely heavy and unwieldy. Despite this drawback, it proved a big success and almost became a cult object. Unfortunately, Osborne’s company went bankrupt in 1983. Date of manufacture: 1983
Commodore presented the C64 in 1982. Two years after its launch, four million units had already been sold, breaking all previous records for computer sales. Ultimately, a total of over 20 million C64 computers were sold throughout the world. The C64 was sometimes referred to as the “breadbox“ or even the “neck rest“ due to its shape. Date of manufacture: 1982
Motorola launched the first commercial mobile phone in 1983: the Dynatac 8000X. This bulky forebear of today's mobile phones weighed almost 750 grams and cost around $400. Date of manufacture: 1983
Apple launched the Macintosh on 24 January 1984. The Mac broke with all the previously accepted notions about PCs. When Jef Raskin, the father of the Mac, proposed the project in 1979, his idea was to design a computer that was geared to people. The Mac enabled normal users to become acquainted with the graphical user interface featuring desktop, mouse and windows. All they had to do beforehand was to unpack it and plug it in. Although the Mac lost out to the IBM PCs in the office environment, it revolutionised the entire graphic design industry. Date of manufacture: 1984
The Cray-2 was the fastest computer in the world in 1985. It weighed 2.5 tonnes. It was supplied as a supercomputer with up to four processors, a peak performance of 2 GFLOPS, 2 GB of memory and a maximum clock speed of 4.1 ns. It is notable for its striking design. A total of 27 units were sold. Date of manufacture: 1985
The Nintendo Game Boy proved to be one of the most successful products in the company’s history. The hand-held video game device was launched on the market in a plain grey-and-white version in 1989. Its robust technology, ease of operation and low battery consumption all helped to make it the biggest-selling console of the time. Although the Game Boy was initially only available with the game Tetris, strangely enough this became part of its appeal: it wasn’t just for hard-core players, but for everyone. The Game Boy was manufactured until 2002 and 120 million devices were sold in all. Date of manufacture: about 1990
The Newton was Apple’s attempt to create a revolutionary new device. A feature of the PDA (Private Digital Assistant) was handwriting recognition software; the device also came with a stylus which was supposed to make entering text child’s play. The touch-sensitive screen would detect characters and words automatically as they were written. However, this feature never really worked properly at market launch, something which gave rise to less than glowing reviews in the press. The project was halted in 1998 when company founder Steve Jobs re-joined the company. Date of manufacture: 1993
Robot soccer represents a major challenge for researchers in the field of artificial intelligence. A proving ground for the state of science in this field, it is also a means of promoting university-level education. Since 1997, international RoboCup matches featuring research teams from all over the world have been held in various leagues. This model – a third-generation, Middle Size League robot – belongs to the Fraunhofer Institut. Each robot has its own sensors and can make decisions completely autonomously. The robots can, however, communicate wirelessly with one another and with a computer. Date of manufacture: 1999
The robot dog AIBO was perhaps the most technically sophisticated toy ever to be created by its Japanese manufacturer Sony: the battery-operated dog came with 18 electrically controlled joints, microphones, loudspeakers, emotion display, 64-bit processor and a balance system to enable it to stand up. Date of manufacture: 1999
Lauron stands for “LAUfROboter Neuronal gesteuert” (English: “Walking Robot, Neural Controlled”). The walking robot (the 3rd generation of which is on show) was developed in order to research statically stable walking in rough terrain. Its movements are biologically inspired, mimicking those of a stick insect. Each leg can respond semi-autonomously to impulses; the movements are coordinated at a higher level. Lauron is able to gather information about its environment and plan a path towards a given goal autonomously. While walking, the robot uses sensors to detect potential obstacles and then either walks over or around them. Date of manufacture: 1999
Using a camera, this 2nd-generation face robot scans the viewer’s facial expression, which is then recognised and interpreted by software based on a neural net. From a repertoire of pre-programmed responses, the robot’s mechanism is activated and a matching facial expression is generated. The mechanical and electronic parts of the Mark II were covered by a silicone skin to create a robot face that looks as human as possible. Fumio Hara, Science University of Tokyo, Japan, 2001
RoboThespian is a life-sized humanoid robot designed for human interaction in public environments. It can sing as well as tell jokes and recite text passages. Visitors can choose from a selection of programmed text sequences for the metallic creation to read out, accompanied by a range of gestures. Date of manufacture: 2011
The earliest documents written on clay tablets in cuneiform script were used for tax and accounting purposes. Records were kept of the bread rations paid to workers, for example. The precise history is not known. About 2350-2100 BC
Wilhelm Schickard wanted to “mechanise” the laborious and error-prone task of calculating astronomical tables. In 1623 he had two calculating machines built to his specifications in a mechanic’s workshop in Tübingen – one for himself, the other for Johannes Kepler. The practical benefits of his “calculating clock” appeared somewhat dubious at the time, as the system based on logarithmic tables was superior. Regrettably, both machines were destroyed in a fire at the workshop and the invention was forgotten. This reconstruction of the machine by Baron von Freytag Löringhoff was completed in 1957. Date of manufacture: 1957
In 1678, French watchmaker René Grillet presented the “Machine arithmétique” which was capable of carrying out all four basic arithmetic operations. Constructed largely out of paper, the invention used so-called Napier’s rods that had been around since 1617 for the calculation process. It is an excellent example of the early days of mechanical calculation and an ancestor of today’s pocket calculator. Date of manufacture: 1678
This calculating machine, invented by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, was built in the years from 1690 to 1720. It represents a historic milestone in the development of mechanical calculating machines because it was the first to perform all four arithmetic operations. Leibniz's operating mechanism, known as the stepped cylinder or Leibniz wheel, allowed multiplication to be performed mechanically and remained an indispensable component of mechanical calculators for over 200 years. Functioning replica of the only remaining original (at the Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek in Hanover), built to plans by N. Joachim Lehmann. HNF replica: 1995
The device popularly known as the “Chess Turk“ was built in 1769 by Austrian court official Wolfgang von Kempelen in such a way as to convince spectators that they were watching an “automated chess player“. In fact an individual of quite normal size sat inside and controlled the gripper arm with the aid of levers and cable winches. Magnetised chess pieces and small magnetic pins on the underside of the board enabled the moves to be followed by the person within. Functional HNF replica: 2004
An Arithmometer is a mechanical calculating machine invented by the Frenchman Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar (1785-1870). It was the world's first calculating machine to go into series production. As well as addition and subtraction, it could perform multiplication and division by means of repeated addition and subtraction. This luxury version of the calculating machine was a gift to the king of Portugal. Date of manufacture: about 1855
The Hansen Writing Ball was the world's first typewriter to be produced commercially, albeit in small batches. It was developed in 1865 by Rasmus Johann Malling-Hansen, a Danish pastor and teacher of deaf-mutes. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a well-known user. Date of manufacture: about 1878
The name Morse and the code of the same name became synonymous with telegraphy. His procedure for transmitting text information via a series of pulses (dots and dashes) and the silences between them helped the technology achieve a breakthrough. The most important components of the Ericsson Morse Telegraph Type TA 100 for receiving messages (“sounder”) are an electromagnet, an armature, a mechanical clockwork to move the paper tape, a coloured stylus and a roll of paper. A Morse key is required to transmit messages. Date of manufacture: about 1880
In 1883, Englishman Joseph Edmondson obtained a patent for a circular calculating machine based on the stepped-drum mechanism. His design was based on Thomas de Colmar’s simple “arithmomètre”. The advantage of Edmondson’s machine was that it was not limited to a certain number of decimal places if a division produced a remainder. Date of manufacture: about 1885
This machine is a replica of the first Hollerith machine that was used so successfully to complete the first census in the USA thanks to the use of punched cards. It provided a much faster way of counting the vast amount of data gathered. The Hollerith machine consists of two hinged plates, a switch panel with relays, a counting device with 40 counters and a sorting box. When one of the pins on the plates meets a hole in the punched card, a circuit is completed and an electric pulse causes the pointer of a counter to advance accordingly. The respective compartment of the sorting box is also opened, and the operator can place the analysed punched card into it by hand. Functional HNF replica: 2006
The comptometer was the first exclusively key-driven mechanical calculator. The “wooden box” was a precursor to the full-keyboard adding machines built between 1886 and 1904. According to its manufacturer’s promotional material, it was the world’s first adding machine with a practical application. Date of manufacture: about 1900
The Underwood No. 5, which appeared in 1900, was the first classic modern typewriter (with visible text, upper- and lower-case letters and tab stops). It set the standard for all subsequent typewriters worldwide until they were superseded first by IBM electric typewriters, which used a type ball instead of type bars, and then by PCs. Date of manufacture: 1915
This extremely compact table-top telephone with a quirky design was also known as the “Pferdefuss” or “horse’s hoof” in Bavaria due to its shape. It was the approved standard dialling apparatus only in Bavaria. Incidentally, the device was referred to as the “cow’s hoof” in Prussia. Date of manufacture: from 1925 onwards
In 1879 the Ritty brothers filed a patent application for the first cash register in the USA. Businessman John H. Patterson acquired the rights to manufacture cash registers in 1884 and founded the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio. The NCR 400 series models were among the standard cash registers in use at the time. They were favoured by retail outlets because of their robust nature. Model 422 has five rows of keys and features 42 keys in all. The indicators are in English and show sums of pounds and pence. Date of manufacture: 1910
The Kryha Liliput is a very rare cipher machine in pocket-watch format. The machine consisted of two concentric rings, each featuring an alphabet and numbers. The user would operate it by pushing a lever to step the inner ring a random number of places against the outer ring, thereby changing the relationship between the two. Although Kryha’s devices were a commercial success, they were cryptographically weak as the period lengths of the codes were generally quite short. The Kryha Liliput was cryptographically compatible with its “big sister”, the Kryha Standard. Date of manufacture: about 1926
The legendary Enigma cipher machine was developed in the early 1920s by the German engineer Artur Scherbius in Berlin and initially marketed for commercial purposes. The machine has three rotors, each of which performs an alphabetic substitution cipher. By combining the rotors in series and using a plugboard with variable wiring, very complex scrambling of the message can be achieved. Date of manufacture: about 1942
The T52 e was a World War II German cipher machine and teleprinter. Due to its size and weight, however, it was only ever used as a stationary device. Unlike the Enigma, messages were encrypted and deciphered automatically. On 20 July 1944, the resistance group led by Claus von Stauffenberg used the device to issue encrypted commands for Operation Valkyrie, the plot to assassinate Hitler. Date of manufacture: 1942
The first functioning electronic computer consisted of 40 panels with almost 18,000 vacuum tubes. J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly were commissioned to construct a vacuum-tube computer by the US Army in 1943. ENIAC, which was 1,000 times faster than other calculating machines, was developed by the young scientists at the Moore School of Electronics in Philadelphia. It required just eight hours to perform calculations that had previously taken an entire year. The high processing capacity was needed by the US Army to calculate artillery firing tables. Mauchly wanted to use ENIAC’s speed to produce more accurate weather forecasts, which is why its inventors built a “universal machine“. Date of manufacture: 1946
The history of IBM in Germany dates back to 1910, with the founding of DEHOMAG (Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH) in Berlin. The company was renamed IBM Deutschland GmbH in 1949, when it relocated to Böblingen. The D 11 tabulator, which was manufactured from 1935 onwards, was the first German machine of its kind. Used for punched card analysis, its ability to read, count, compute and print cards made it the mainstay of many so-called Hollerith departments. The machine proved a milestone in the development of punched card technology: It was on sale until 1960, latterly as the IBM D11 Type 450. Around 1,100 D 11 models were sold in all. Date of manufacture: between 1949 and 1960
In the early days of telephony, calls were connected manually by a switchboard operator . The next stage of development saw the introduction of automatic telephone exchanges which dispensed with the need for human intervention. A local telephone exchange establishes connections between the subscribers of a local network. In this case, an analogue electrical signal is switched via electromechanical components. If the first digit dialled by the subscriber is a zero, he or she is put through to the trunk or long-distance exchange. The electromechanical system exhibited here was in use in Hagen-Eilpe until 1994, when it was replaced by a digital switching system.
The W48 desktop telephone was developed for the Deutsche Bundespost by Siemens & Halske in 1948 in the western zone of occupied Germany and produced in very large quantities. Date of manufacture: 1954
This is the first computer developed by Heinz Nixdorf. He started work in July 1952 and it took him 15 months to complete. The electronic balancer is equipped with vacuum tubes. It is a one-off machine built especially for materials management at Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), where it supplemented the work of a Remington Rand tabulating machine, whose mechanical mode of operation was no match for the much faster Nixdorf electronics. Date of manufacture: 1953
The accounting machine Exacta-Continental 6000 was the ultimate in electromechanical office equipment: it could manage all accounting tasks with ease. It came with an optional Multitronic electronic multiplication unit manufactured by Heinz Nixdorf’s Labor für Impulstechnik, which signalled the beginning of a new data processing era from 1958 onwards. Date of manufacture: about 1958
The Zuse Z 11 was the first programmable relay computer from ZUSE KG to go into series production. It was used for mathematical calculations, its hard-wired programs having been designed for surveying tasks in particular. The last in a development series of electro-mechanically controlled computer systems, it contained relays as binary switching elements. These may have been slower than vacuum tubes, but were also more reliable, more durable and less expensive. Date of manufacture: 1958
The Curta is the only mechanical pocket calculator that is capable of performing all four basic arithmetic operations. The inventor of this precision-engineered masterpiece was an Austrian, Curt Herzstark (1902-1988). Date of manufacture: about 1965
The Anita was the first all-electronic, tube-based desktop calculator. Not only was it completely silent, but it operated much faster than mechanical machines, and was maintenance-free too. However, tubes were not an optimum technical solution for desktop calculators as they used a lot of electricity, were relatively susceptible to breakage and were expensive to produce. For this reason, this technology remained unique to the Anita. Mass production of such devices only became an option once transistors started to be used from around 1964 onwards. Date of manufacture: 1961
The linotype machine was a “line casting” machine used in printing. It replaced the extremely time-consuming manual type-setting process. The machine, which was patented in 1886, mechanised the setting and casting of letters. The setter entered text at a keyboard: every time a key was pressed, a matrix of the chosen letter fell into position from a magazine. The assembled line of matrices was cast as a single piece of type metal and filled with liquid lead once the spaces between words had been automatically adjusted. After cooling, this produced “A LINE OF TYPES”. Date of manufacture: 1962
At the start of the 1950s, VEB Optima Büromaschinenwerk Erfurt was asked to develop a typewriter for China as part of e socialist initiative to support allied nations. The Erfurt manufacturers based their design on the box-type typewriter first sold in 1917 by Nippon Typewriter Co. Ltd. in Tokyo. The “Chinese Optima” made its début in 1953. Subsequently, the Chinese bicycle factory “Flying Dove” took over production of the device, two versions of which were produced in China under the “Flying Dove” brand until the end of 1992. Date of manufacture: 1992
This computer originated from the Gemini II mission; it featured in an unmanned space flight on 19.01.1965. The Mercury and Gemini space programmes laid the groundwork for the moon landing. From 1963 onwards, the Gemini missions tested orbital coupling manoeuvres necessary to achieve rendezvous and docking. Safe, accurate manoeuvring was only possible with the aid of a computer. IBM’s commission to develop the on-board computer was worth $26.6 million. It was the first computer to have a magnetic core memory so that data was not destroyed when read out. It was also IBM’s first computer to be fully transistorised. The computer proved reliable in operation. Date of manufacture: about 1964
In 1965, the Digital Equipment Corporation presented the PDP-8, thereby marking the beginning of the mini-computer era. Priced at just 18,200 Dollars, this general-purpose computer was robust enough to be used in both production and laboratory environments. Some 10,000 of them were sold within the space of 10 years; by 1975, the PDP-8 cost just 2,600 Dollars. A whole variety of manufacturers tapped into the new market, building computers based on the PDP-8 for use in process and manufacturing technology and for controlling experiments in research. By 1975, more than 30 companies in the West German market alone were selling mini-computers. Date of manufacture: 1965
In 1964, Nixdorf developed the electronics for a desk-top calculator produced by office equipment manufacturer Wanderer, later building the components itself under licence. The “Wanderer Conti” was presented to the public for the first time in 1965 at the Hanover Trade Fair. It was the world’s first fully electronic desk-top calculator with printing output. In terms of design, the four-species calculator was a bona fide computer, boasting an arithmetic unit, a magnetic core memory, a printer and a threaded read-only memory (ROM). The Conti enabled Nixdorf to gain a foothold in the US market when the Chicago-based Victor Comptometer Corporation placed an order worth DM 100 million for the machine in 1968. Date of manufacture: 1966
The Olivetti Valentine is a mechanical typewriter that stands out largely by virtue of its unconventional appearance. It is regarded as a milestone in industrial design and is a sought-after collector’s item. Date of manufacture: early 1970s
The great success enjoyed by Nixdorf at the end of the 1960s and start of the 1970s was based largely on the computers of the 820 series. These were universal computers for companies of all sizes and could be used for almost any application area thanks to their modular construction and consistent application of the modular design system. Date of manufacture: 1974
Canon Canola Pocketronic, Sanyo ICC-82D, Sharp EL-8: The first battery-operated electronic pocket calculators were brought out virtually simultaneously in 1970 by Japanese firms Sanyo, Sharp and Canon. However, the "heart" of these first pocket calculators – the microchip – was produced by US companies such as Texas Instruments and Rockwell. Texas Instruments had developed the first portable prototype as early as 1967. But the Cal-Tech, as it was known, was merely supposed to demonstrate the power of the new chip and never went into series production. The huge sales potential of the pocket calculator had yet to be recognised, especially since it was still too expensive to produce. It was for this reason that Texas Instruments sold the technical design of the Cal-Tech to Canon, and only brought out its own pocket calculator in 1972. Date of manufacture: 1970
The Odyssey console laid the foundations for the video game era. In 1966 Ralph Baer, a US engineer of German descent, filed a patent for a kind of ping-pong game. This was ultimately granted in 1968. It was not until 1972 that the game was distributed with a gaming console by Magnavox. Poor marketing meant that although the video game wasn’t a commercial flop, it wasn’t a resounding financial success either. Date of manufacture: 1972
The HP-35 was the world's first scientific pocket calculator. Before it came along, slide rules and logarithm tables were required for trigonometric and exponential functions. Pocket calculators were only capable of the four basic arithmetic operations. The price for an HP-35 in 1972 was about DM 2,000. Date of manufacture: 1972
In 1970, the photocopier company Xerox founded a research centre in Palo Alto known as PARC. This is where the Xerox Alto was developed, a forerunner of much of the PC technology taken for granted today. The Alto had a graphical user interface and a mouse, and was the model on which first the Macintosh, then Windows were based. It was also fully network-capable: the Ethernet was another Xerox PARC invention. Many Alto system engineers later worked on the Apple Macintosh. Only around 1,000 examples of the Alto were built; it was a prototype and was never launched on the market. Date of manufacture: 1973
The January 1975 issue of the magazine Popular Electronics featured the forerunner of the first personal computer, the Altair 8800, which had been designed by Ed Roberts and his company MITS. It was available as a kit for 397 US dollars, making it the first computer that ordinary consumers could afford and marking the advent of widespread PC use. Incidentally, the Altair's name comes from a TV series. The twelve-year-old daughter of editor Les Solomon said: “Call it Altair. That's where the Enterprise is heading tonight.“ Date of manufacture: 1975
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple on 1 April 1976. Soon afterwards, they presented their first computer: the Apple I. A total of only 200 Apple I computers were made. Jobs and Wozniak built it in Jobs's parents' garage in Los Altos, California and sold it for $666. The Apple I was actually just a circuit board. Users had to make their own housing for it and add input and output devices themselves. There are still around 70 Apple I computers in existence worldwide. Date of manufacture: 1976
The Apple II was the first “personal“ desktop computer to achieve commercial success. In contrast to the Apple I, the main board was supplied in a plastic housing together with a keyboard, a monitor and software.  The Apple Writer word processor and VisiCalc spreadsheet software were key to its success. The Apple II marked the start of Apple's rise to become the world's most successful company. Date of manufacture: 1977
The computer centre from the Sachsenwerk in Dresden is part of a system that was only shut down in 1993. It played a role in GDR computer history and a part in the success story of a major computer system. The Einheitliches System Elektronischer Rechenanlagen (standardized system of electronic computers) is the functional replica of an IBM computer: ESER 1055 is compatible with the 370/155 in terms of hardware and software alike. These computer systems were built until well into the 1980s. Date of manufacture: about 1979
Whenever computers were mentioned in the 1960s and 1970s, IBM was the name on everyone's lips. Despite this, the manufacturing giant was so slow to react that it almost missed out on the personal computer revolution, eventually launching its own PC 5150 in August 1981. The device proved an immediate hit, becoming an office mainstay. After all, it was a product of THE computer company, a fact which engendered trust among businesses that had not had any faith in the models available on the market thus far. The IBM PC, which ran with Microsoft's DOS operating system, provided the industry standard that had been lacking for so long. Date of manufacture: 1984
When Adam Osborne founded his computer firm, he was already well-known on the burgeoning home-computer scene thanks to numerous books and articles he had published. Although others before him had toyed with the idea of building a portable computer, his model, the Osborne 1, was the first on the market. Compared with today’s laptops, the Osborne 1 was extremely heavy and unwieldy. Despite this drawback, it proved a big success and almost became a cult object. Unfortunately, Osborne’s company went bankrupt in 1983. Date of manufacture: 1983
Commodore presented the C64 in 1982. Two years after its launch, four million units had already been sold, breaking all previous records for computer sales. Ultimately, a total of over 20 million C64 computers were sold throughout the world. The C64 was sometimes referred to as the “breadbox“ or even the “neck rest“ due to its shape. Date of manufacture: 1982
Motorola launched the first commercial mobile phone in 1983: the Dynatac 8000X. This bulky forebear of today's mobile phones weighed almost 750 grams and cost around $400. Date of manufacture: 1983
Apple launched the Macintosh on 24 January 1984. The Mac broke with all the previously accepted notions about PCs. When Jef Raskin, the father of the Mac, proposed the project in 1979, his idea was to design a computer that was geared to people. The Mac enabled normal users to become acquainted with the graphical user interface featuring desktop, mouse and windows. All they had to do beforehand was to unpack it and plug it in. Although the Mac lost out to the IBM PCs in the office environment, it revolutionised the entire graphic design industry. Date of manufacture: 1984
The Cray-2 was the fastest computer in the world in 1985. It weighed 2.5 tonnes. It was supplied as a supercomputer with up to four processors, a peak performance of 2 GFLOPS, 2 GB of memory and a maximum clock speed of 4.1 ns. It is notable for its striking design. A total of 27 units were sold. Date of manufacture: 1985
The Nintendo Game Boy proved to be one of the most successful products in the company’s history. The hand-held video game device was launched on the market in a plain grey-and-white version in 1989. Its robust technology, ease of operation and low battery consumption all helped to make it the biggest-selling console of the time. Although the Game Boy was initially only available with the game Tetris, strangely enough this became part of its appeal: it wasn’t just for hard-core players, but for everyone. The Game Boy was manufactured until 2002 and 120 million devices were sold in all. Date of manufacture: about 1990
The Newton was Apple’s attempt to create a revolutionary new device. A feature of the PDA (Private Digital Assistant) was handwriting recognition software; the device also came with a stylus which was supposed to make entering text child’s play. The touch-sensitive screen would detect characters and words automatically as they were written. However, this feature never really worked properly at market launch, something which gave rise to less than glowing reviews in the press. The project was halted in 1998 when company founder Steve Jobs re-joined the company. Date of manufacture: 1993
Robot soccer represents a major challenge for researchers in the field of artificial intelligence. A proving ground for the state of science in this field, it is also a means of promoting university-level education. Since 1997, international RoboCup matches featuring research teams from all over the world have been held in various leagues. This model – a third-generation, Middle Size League robot – belongs to the Fraunhofer Institut. Each robot has its own sensors and can make decisions completely autonomously. The robots can, however, communicate wirelessly with one another and with a computer. Date of manufacture: 1999
The robot dog AIBO was perhaps the most technically sophisticated toy ever to be created by its Japanese manufacturer Sony: the battery-operated dog came with 18 electrically controlled joints, microphones, loudspeakers, emotion display, 64-bit processor and a balance system to enable it to stand up. Date of manufacture: 1999
Lauron stands for “LAUfROboter Neuronal gesteuert” (English: “Walking Robot, Neural Controlled”). The walking robot (the 3rd generation of which is on show) was developed in order to research statically stable walking in rough terrain. Its movements are biologically inspired, mimicking those of a stick insect. Each leg can respond semi-autonomously to impulses; the movements are coordinated at a higher level. Lauron is able to gather information about its environment and plan a path towards a given goal autonomously. While walking, the robot uses sensors to detect potential obstacles and then either walks over or around them. Date of manufacture: 1999
Using a camera, this 2nd-generation face robot scans the viewer’s facial expression, which is then recognised and interpreted by software based on a neural net. From a repertoire of pre-programmed responses, the robot’s mechanism is activated and a matching facial expression is generated. The mechanical and electronic parts of the Mark II were covered by a silicone skin to create a robot face that looks as human as possible. Fumio Hara, Science University of Tokyo, Japan, 2001
RoboThespian is a life-sized humanoid robot designed for human interaction in public environments. It can sing as well as tell jokes and recite text passages. Visitors can choose from a selection of programmed text sequences for the metallic creation to read out, accompanied by a range of gestures. Date of manufacture: 2011
The earliest documents written on clay tablets in cuneiform script were used for tax and accounting purposes. Records were kept of the bread rations paid to workers, for example. The precise history is not known. About 2350-2100 BC
Wilhelm Schickard wanted to “mechanise” the laborious and error-prone task of calculating astronomical tables. In 1623 he had two calculating machines built to his specifications in a mechanic’s workshop in Tübingen – one for himself, the other for Johannes Kepler. The practical benefits of his “calculating clock” appeared somewhat dubious at the time, as the system based on logarithmic tables was superior. Regrettably, both machines were destroyed in a fire at the workshop and the invention was forgotten. This reconstruction of the machine by Baron von Freytag Löringhoff was completed in 1957. Date of manufacture: 1957
In 1678, French watchmaker René Grillet presented the “Machine arithmétique” which was capable of carrying out all four basic arithmetic operations. Constructed largely out of paper, the invention used so-called Napier’s rods that had been around since 1617 for the calculation process. It is an excellent example of the early days of mechanical calculation and an ancestor of today’s pocket calculator. Date of manufacture: 1678
This calculating machine, invented by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, was built in the years from 1690 to 1720. It represents a historic milestone in the development of mechanical calculating machines because it was the first to perform all four arithmetic operations. Leibniz's operating mechanism, known as the stepped cylinder or Leibniz wheel, allowed multiplication to be performed mechanically and remained an indispensable component of mechanical calculators for over 200 years. Functioning replica of the only remaining original (at the Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek in Hanover), built to plans by N. Joachim Lehmann. HNF replica: 1995
The device popularly known as the “Chess Turk“ was built in 1769 by Austrian court official Wolfgang von Kempelen in such a way as to convince spectators that they were watching an “automated chess player“. In fact an individual of quite normal size sat inside and controlled the gripper arm with the aid of levers and cable winches. Magnetised chess pieces and small magnetic pins on the underside of the board enabled the moves to be followed by the person within. Functional HNF replica: 2004
An Arithmometer is a mechanical calculating machine invented by the Frenchman Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar (1785-1870). It was the world's first calculating machine to go into series production. As well as addition and subtraction, it could perform multiplication and division by means of repeated addition and subtraction. This luxury version of the calculating machine was a gift to the king of Portugal. Date of manufacture: about 1855
The Hansen Writing Ball was the world's first typewriter to be produced commercially, albeit in small batches. It was developed in 1865 by Rasmus Johann Malling-Hansen, a Danish pastor and teacher of deaf-mutes. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a well-known user. Date of manufacture: about 1878
The name Morse and the code of the same name became synonymous with telegraphy. His procedure for transmitting text information via a series of pulses (dots and dashes) and the silences between them helped the technology achieve a breakthrough. The most important components of the Ericsson Morse Telegraph Type TA 100 for receiving messages (“sounder”) are an electromagnet, an armature, a mechanical clockwork to move the paper tape, a coloured stylus and a roll of paper. A Morse key is required to transmit messages. Date of manufacture: about 1880
In 1883, Englishman Joseph Edmondson obtained a patent for a circular calculating machine based on the stepped-drum mechanism. His design was based on Thomas de Colmar’s simple “arithmomètre”. The advantage of Edmondson’s machine was that it was not limited to a certain number of decimal places if a division produced a remainder. Date of manufacture: about 1885
This machine is a replica of the first Hollerith machine that was used so successfully to complete the first census in the USA thanks to the use of punched cards. It provided a much faster way of counting the vast amount of data gathered. The Hollerith machine consists of two hinged plates, a switch panel with relays, a counting device with 40 counters and a sorting box. When one of the pins on the plates meets a hole in the punched card, a circuit is completed and an electric pulse causes the pointer of a counter to advance accordingly. The respective compartment of the sorting box is also opened, and the operator can place the analysed punched card into it by hand. Functional HNF replica: 2006
The comptometer was the first exclusively key-driven mechanical calculator. The “wooden box” was a precursor to the full-keyboard adding machines built between 1886 and 1904. According to its manufacturer’s promotional material, it was the world’s first adding machine with a practical application. Date of manufacture: about 1900
The Underwood No. 5, which appeared in 1900, was the first classic modern typewriter (with visible text, upper- and lower-case letters and tab stops). It set the standard for all subsequent typewriters worldwide until they were superseded first by IBM electric typewriters, which used a type ball instead of type bars, and then by PCs. Date of manufacture: 1915
This extremely compact table-top telephone with a quirky design was also known as the “Pferdefuss” or “horse’s hoof” in Bavaria due to its shape. It was the approved standard dialling apparatus only in Bavaria. Incidentally, the device was referred to as the “cow’s hoof” in Prussia. Date of manufacture: from 1925 onwards
In 1879 the Ritty brothers filed a patent application for the first cash register in the USA. Businessman John H. Patterson acquired the rights to manufacture cash registers in 1884 and founded the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio. The NCR 400 series models were among the standard cash registers in use at the time. They were favoured by retail outlets because of their robust nature. Model 422 has five rows of keys and features 42 keys in all. The indicators are in English and show sums of pounds and pence. Date of manufacture: 1910
The Kryha Liliput is a very rare cipher machine in pocket-watch format. The machine consisted of two concentric rings, each featuring an alphabet and numbers. The user would operate it by pushing a lever to step the inner ring a random number of places against the outer ring, thereby changing the relationship between the two. Although Kryha’s devices were a commercial success, they were cryptographically weak as the period lengths of the codes were generally quite short. The Kryha Liliput was cryptographically compatible with its “big sister”, the Kryha Standard. Date of manufacture: about 1926
The legendary Enigma cipher machine was developed in the early 1920s by the German engineer Artur Scherbius in Berlin and initially marketed for commercial purposes. The machine has three rotors, each of which performs an alphabetic substitution cipher. By combining the rotors in series and using a plugboard with variable wiring, very complex scrambling of the message can be achieved. Date of manufacture: about 1942
The T52 e was a World War II German cipher machine and teleprinter. Due to its size and weight, however, it was only ever used as a stationary device. Unlike the Enigma, messages were encrypted and deciphered automatically. On 20 July 1944, the resistance group led by Claus von Stauffenberg used the device to issue encrypted commands for Operation Valkyrie, the plot to assassinate Hitler. Date of manufacture: 1942
The first functioning electronic computer consisted of 40 panels with almost 18,000 vacuum tubes. J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly were commissioned to construct a vacuum-tube computer by the US Army in 1943. ENIAC, which was 1,000 times faster than other calculating machines, was developed by the young scientists at the Moore School of Electronics in Philadelphia. It required just eight hours to perform calculations that had previously taken an entire year. The high processing capacity was needed by the US Army to calculate artillery firing tables. Mauchly wanted to use ENIAC’s speed to produce more accurate weather forecasts, which is why its inventors built a “universal machine“. Date of manufacture: 1946
The history of IBM in Germany dates back to 1910, with the founding of DEHOMAG (Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH) in Berlin. The company was renamed IBM Deutschland GmbH in 1949, when it relocated to Böblingen. The D 11 tabulator, which was manufactured from 1935 onwards, was the first German machine of its kind. Used for punched card analysis, its ability to read, count, compute and print cards made it the mainstay of many so-called Hollerith departments. The machine proved a milestone in the development of punched card technology: It was on sale until 1960, latterly as the IBM D11 Type 450. Around 1,100 D 11 models were sold in all. Date of manufacture: between 1949 and 1960
In the early days of telephony, calls were connected manually by a switchboard operator . The next stage of development saw the introduction of automatic telephone exchanges which dispensed with the need for human intervention. A local telephone exchange establishes connections between the subscribers of a local network. In this case, an analogue electrical signal is switched via electromechanical components. If the first digit dialled by the subscriber is a zero, he or she is put through to the trunk or long-distance exchange. The electromechanical system exhibited here was in use in Hagen-Eilpe until 1994, when it was replaced by a digital switching system.
The W48 desktop telephone was developed for the Deutsche Bundespost by Siemens & Halske in 1948 in the western zone of occupied Germany and produced in very large quantities. Date of manufacture: 1954
This is the first computer developed by Heinz Nixdorf. He started work in July 1952 and it took him 15 months to complete. The electronic balancer is equipped with vacuum tubes. It is a one-off machine built especially for materials management at Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), where it supplemented the work of a Remington Rand tabulating machine, whose mechanical mode of operation was no match for the much faster Nixdorf electronics. Date of manufacture: 1953
The accounting machine Exacta-Continental 6000 was the ultimate in electromechanical office equipment: it could manage all accounting tasks with ease. It came with an optional Multitronic electronic multiplication unit manufactured by Heinz Nixdorf’s Labor für Impulstechnik, which signalled the beginning of a new data processing era from 1958 onwards. Date of manufacture: about 1958
The Zuse Z 11 was the first programmable relay computer from ZUSE KG to go into series production. It was used for mathematical calculations, its hard-wired programs having been designed for surveying tasks in particular. The last in a development series of electro-mechanically controlled computer systems, it contained relays as binary switching elements. These may have been slower than vacuum tubes, but were also more reliable, more durable and less expensive. Date of manufacture: 1958
The Curta is the only mechanical pocket calculator that is capable of performing all four basic arithmetic operations. The inventor of this precision-engineered masterpiece was an Austrian, Curt Herzstark (1902-1988). Date of manufacture: about 1965
The Anita was the first all-electronic, tube-based desktop calculator. Not only was it completely silent, but it operated much faster than mechanical machines, and was maintenance-free too. However, tubes were not an optimum technical solution for desktop calculators as they used a lot of electricity, were relatively susceptible to breakage and were expensive to produce. For this reason, this technology remained unique to the Anita. Mass production of such devices only became an option once transistors started to be used from around 1964 onwards. Date of manufacture: 1961
The linotype machine was a “line casting” machine used in printing. It replaced the extremely time-consuming manual type-setting process. The machine, which was patented in 1886, mechanised the setting and casting of letters. The setter entered text at a keyboard: every time a key was pressed, a matrix of the chosen letter fell into position from a magazine. The assembled line of matrices was cast as a single piece of type metal and filled with liquid lead once the spaces between words had been automatically adjusted. After cooling, this produced “A LINE OF TYPES”. Date of manufacture: 1962
At the start of the 1950s, VEB Optima Büromaschinenwerk Erfurt was asked to develop a typewriter for China as part of e socialist initiative to support allied nations. The Erfurt manufacturers based their design on the box-type typewriter first sold in 1917 by Nippon Typewriter Co. Ltd. in Tokyo. The “Chinese Optima” made its début in 1953. Subsequently, the Chinese bicycle factory “Flying Dove” took over production of the device, two versions of which were produced in China under the “Flying Dove” brand until the end of 1992. Date of manufacture: 1992
This computer originated from the Gemini II mission; it featured in an unmanned space flight on 19.01.1965. The Mercury and Gemini space programmes laid the groundwork for the moon landing. From 1963 onwards, the Gemini missions tested orbital coupling manoeuvres necessary to achieve rendezvous and docking. Safe, accurate manoeuvring was only possible with the aid of a computer. IBM’s commission to develop the on-board computer was worth $26.6 million. It was the first computer to have a magnetic core memory so that data was not destroyed when read out. It was also IBM’s first computer to be fully transistorised. The computer proved reliable in operation. Date of manufacture: about 1964
In 1965, the Digital Equipment Corporation presented the PDP-8, thereby marking the beginning of the mini-computer era. Priced at just 18,200 Dollars, this general-purpose computer was robust enough to be used in both production and laboratory environments. Some 10,000 of them were sold within the space of 10 years; by 1975, the PDP-8 cost just 2,600 Dollars. A whole variety of manufacturers tapped into the new market, building computers based on the PDP-8 for use in process and manufacturing technology and for controlling experiments in research. By 1975, more than 30 companies in the West German market alone were selling mini-computers. Date of manufacture: 1965
In 1964, Nixdorf developed the electronics for a desk-top calculator produced by office equipment manufacturer Wanderer, later building the components itself under licence. The “Wanderer Conti” was presented to the public for the first time in 1965 at the Hanover Trade Fair. It was the world’s first fully electronic desk-top calculator with printing output. In terms of design, the four-species calculator was a bona fide computer, boasting an arithmetic unit, a magnetic core memory, a printer and a threaded read-only memory (ROM). The Conti enabled Nixdorf to gain a foothold in the US market when the Chicago-based Victor Comptometer Corporation placed an order worth DM 100 million for the machine in 1968. Date of manufacture: 1966
The Olivetti Valentine is a mechanical typewriter that stands out largely by virtue of its unconventional appearance. It is regarded as a milestone in industrial design and is a sought-after collector’s item. Date of manufacture: early 1970s
The great success enjoyed by Nixdorf at the end of the 1960s and start of the 1970s was based largely on the computers of the 820 series. These were universal computers for companies of all sizes and could be used for almost any application area thanks to their modular construction and consistent application of the modular design system. Date of manufacture: 1974
Canon Canola Pocketronic, Sanyo ICC-82D, Sharp EL-8: The first battery-operated electronic pocket calculators were brought out virtually simultaneously in 1970 by Japanese firms Sanyo, Sharp and Canon. However, the "heart" of these first pocket calculators – the microchip – was produced by US companies such as Texas Instruments and Rockwell. Texas Instruments had developed the first portable prototype as early as 1967. But the Cal-Tech, as it was known, was merely supposed to demonstrate the power of the new chip and never went into series production. The huge sales potential of the pocket calculator had yet to be recognised, especially since it was still too expensive to produce. It was for this reason that Texas Instruments sold the technical design of the Cal-Tech to Canon, and only brought out its own pocket calculator in 1972. Date of manufacture: 1970
The Odyssey console laid the foundations for the video game era. In 1966 Ralph Baer, a US engineer of German descent, filed a patent for a kind of ping-pong game. This was ultimately granted in 1968. It was not until 1972 that the game was distributed with a gaming console by Magnavox. Poor marketing meant that although the video game wasn’t a commercial flop, it wasn’t a resounding financial success either. Date of manufacture: 1972
The HP-35 was the world's first scientific pocket calculator. Before it came along, slide rules and logarithm tables were required for trigonometric and exponential functions. Pocket calculators were only capable of the four basic arithmetic operations. The price for an HP-35 in 1972 was about DM 2,000. Date of manufacture: 1972
In 1970, the photocopier company Xerox founded a research centre in Palo Alto known as PARC. This is where the Xerox Alto was developed, a forerunner of much of the PC technology taken for granted today. The Alto had a graphical user interface and a mouse, and was the model on which first the Macintosh, then Windows were based. It was also fully network-capable: the Ethernet was another Xerox PARC invention. Many Alto system engineers later worked on the Apple Macintosh. Only around 1,000 examples of the Alto were built; it was a prototype and was never launched on the market. Date of manufacture: 1973
The January 1975 issue of the magazine Popular Electronics featured the forerunner of the first personal computer, the Altair 8800, which had been designed by Ed Roberts and his company MITS. It was available as a kit for 397 US dollars, making it the first computer that ordinary consumers could afford and marking the advent of widespread PC use. Incidentally, the Altair's name comes from a TV series. The twelve-year-old daughter of editor Les Solomon said: “Call it Altair. That's where the Enterprise is heading tonight.“ Date of manufacture: 1975
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple on 1 April 1976. Soon afterwards, they presented their first computer: the Apple I. A total of only 200 Apple I computers were made. Jobs and Wozniak built it in Jobs's parents' garage in Los Altos, California and sold it for $666. The Apple I was actually just a circuit board. Users had to make their own housing for it and add input and output devices themselves. There are still around 70 Apple I computers in existence worldwide. Date of manufacture: 1976
The Apple II was the first “personal“ desktop computer to achieve commercial success. In contrast to the Apple I, the main board was supplied in a plastic housing together with a keyboard, a monitor and software.  The Apple Writer word processor and VisiCalc spreadsheet software were key to its success. The Apple II marked the start of Apple's rise to become the world's most successful company. Date of manufacture: 1977
The computer centre from the Sachsenwerk in Dresden is part of a system that was only shut down in 1993. It played a role in GDR computer history and a part in the success story of a major computer system. The Einheitliches System Elektronischer Rechenanlagen (standardized system of electronic computers) is the functional replica of an IBM computer: ESER 1055 is compatible with the 370/155 in terms of hardware and software alike. These computer systems were built until well into the 1980s. Date of manufacture: about 1979
Whenever computers were mentioned in the 1960s and 1970s, IBM was the name on everyone's lips. Despite this, the manufacturing giant was so slow to react that it almost missed out on the personal computer revolution, eventually launching its own PC 5150 in August 1981. The device proved an immediate hit, becoming an office mainstay. After all, it was a product of THE computer company, a fact which engendered trust among businesses that had not had any faith in the models available on the market thus far. The IBM PC, which ran with Microsoft's DOS operating system, provided the industry standard that had been lacking for so long. Date of manufacture: 1984
When Adam Osborne founded his computer firm, he was already well-known on the burgeoning home-computer scene thanks to numerous books and articles he had published. Although others before him had toyed with the idea of building a portable computer, his model, the Osborne 1, was the first on the market. Compared with today’s laptops, the Osborne 1 was extremely heavy and unwieldy. Despite this drawback, it proved a big success and almost became a cult object. Unfortunately, Osborne’s company went bankrupt in 1983. Date of manufacture: 1983
Commodore presented the C64 in 1982. Two years after its launch, four million units had already been sold, breaking all previous records for computer sales. Ultimately, a total of over 20 million C64 computers were sold throughout the world. The C64 was sometimes referred to as the “breadbox“ or even the “neck rest“ due to its shape. Date of manufacture: 1982
Motorola launched the first commercial mobile phone in 1983: the Dynatac 8000X. This bulky forebear of today's mobile phones weighed almost 750 grams and cost around $400. Date of manufacture: 1983
Apple launched the Macintosh on 24 January 1984. The Mac broke with all the previously accepted notions about PCs. When Jef Raskin, the father of the Mac, proposed the project in 1979, his idea was to design a computer that was geared to people. The Mac enabled normal users to become acquainted with the graphical user interface featuring desktop, mouse and windows. All they had to do beforehand was to unpack it and plug it in. Although the Mac lost out to the IBM PCs in the office environment, it revolutionised the entire graphic design industry. Date of manufacture: 1984
The Cray-2 was the fastest computer in the world in 1985. It weighed 2.5 tonnes. It was supplied as a supercomputer with up to four processors, a peak performance of 2 GFLOPS, 2 GB of memory and a maximum clock speed of 4.1 ns. It is notable for its striking design. A total of 27 units were sold. Date of manufacture: 1985
The Nintendo Game Boy proved to be one of the most successful products in the company’s history. The hand-held video game device was launched on the market in a plain grey-and-white version in 1989. Its robust technology, ease of operation and low battery consumption all helped to make it the biggest-selling console of the time. Although the Game Boy was initially only available with the game Tetris, strangely enough this became part of its appeal: it wasn’t just for hard-core players, but for everyone. The Game Boy was manufactured until 2002 and 120 million devices were sold in all. Date of manufacture: about 1990
The Newton was Apple’s attempt to create a revolutionary new device. A feature of the PDA (Private Digital Assistant) was handwriting recognition software; the device also came with a stylus which was supposed to make entering text child’s play. The touch-sensitive screen would detect characters and words automatically as they were written. However, this feature never really worked properly at market launch, something which gave rise to less than glowing reviews in the press. The project was halted in 1998 when company founder Steve Jobs re-joined the company. Date of manufacture: 1993
Robot soccer represents a major challenge for researchers in the field of artificial intelligence. A proving ground for the state of science in this field, it is also a means of promoting university-level education. Since 1997, international RoboCup matches featuring research teams from all over the world have been held in various leagues. This model – a third-generation, Middle Size League robot – belongs to the Fraunhofer Institut. Each robot has its own sensors and can make decisions completely autonomously. The robots can, however, communicate wirelessly with one another and with a computer. Date of manufacture: 1999
The robot dog AIBO was perhaps the most technically sophisticated toy ever to be created by its Japanese manufacturer Sony: the battery-operated dog came with 18 electrically controlled joints, microphones, loudspeakers, emotion display, 64-bit processor and a balance system to enable it to stand up. Date of manufacture: 1999
Lauron stands for “LAUfROboter Neuronal gesteuert” (English: “Walking Robot, Neural Controlled”). The walking robot (the 3rd generation of which is on show) was developed in order to research statically stable walking in rough terrain. Its movements are biologically inspired, mimicking those of a stick insect. Each leg can respond semi-autonomously to impulses; the movements are coordinated at a higher level. Lauron is able to gather information about its environment and plan a path towards a given goal autonomously. While walking, the robot uses sensors to detect potential obstacles and then either walks over or around them. Date of manufacture: 1999
Using a camera, this 2nd-generation face robot scans the viewer’s facial expression, which is then recognised and interpreted by software based on a neural net. From a repertoire of pre-programmed responses, the robot’s mechanism is activated and a matching facial expression is generated. The mechanical and electronic parts of the Mark II were covered by a silicone skin to create a robot face that looks as human as possible. Fumio Hara, Science University of Tokyo, Japan, 2001
RoboThespian is a life-sized humanoid robot designed for human interaction in public environments. It can sing as well as tell jokes and recite text passages. Visitors can choose from a selection of programmed text sequences for the metallic creation to read out, accompanied by a range of gestures. Date of manufacture: 2011
The earliest documents written on clay tablets in cuneiform script were used for tax and accounting purposes. Records were kept of the bread rations paid to workers, for example. The precise history is not known. About 2350-2100 BC
Wilhelm Schickard wanted to “mechanise” the laborious and error-prone task of calculating astronomical tables. In 1623 he had two calculating machines built to his specifications in a mechanic’s workshop in Tübingen – one for himself, the other for Johannes Kepler. The practical benefits of his “calculating clock” appeared somewhat dubious at the time, as the system based on logarithmic tables was superior. Regrettably, both machines were destroyed in a fire at the workshop and the invention was forgotten. This reconstruction of the machine by Baron von Freytag Löringhoff was completed in 1957. Date of manufacture: 1957
In 1678, French watchmaker René Grillet presented the “Machine arithmétique” which was capable of carrying out all four basic arithmetic operations. Constructed largely out of paper, the invention used so-called Napier’s rods that had been around since 1617 for the calculation process. It is an excellent example of the early days of mechanical calculation and an ancestor of today’s pocket calculator. Date of manufacture: 1678
This calculating machine, invented by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, was built in the years from 1690 to 1720. It represents a historic milestone in the development of mechanical calculating machines because it was the first to perform all four arithmetic operations. Leibniz's operating mechanism, known as the stepped cylinder or Leibniz wheel, allowed multiplication to be performed mechanically and remained an indispensable component of mechanical calculators for over 200 years. Functioning replica of the only remaining original (at the Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek in Hanover), built to plans by N. Joachim Lehmann. HNF replica: 1995
The device popularly known as the “Chess Turk“ was built in 1769 by Austrian court official Wolfgang von Kempelen in such a way as to convince spectators that they were watching an “automated chess player“. In fact an individual of quite normal size sat inside and controlled the gripper arm with the aid of levers and cable winches. Magnetised chess pieces and small magnetic pins on the underside of the board enabled the moves to be followed by the person within. Functional HNF replica: 2004
An Arithmometer is a mechanical calculating machine invented by the Frenchman Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar (1785-1870). It was the world's first calculating machine to go into series production. As well as addition and subtraction, it could perform multiplication and division by means of repeated addition and subtraction. This luxury version of the calculating machine was a gift to the king of Portugal. Date of manufacture: about 1855
The Hansen Writing Ball was the world's first typewriter to be produced commercially, albeit in small batches. It was developed in 1865 by Rasmus Johann Malling-Hansen, a Danish pastor and teacher of deaf-mutes. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a well-known user. Date of manufacture: about 1878
The name Morse and the code of the same name became synonymous with telegraphy. His procedure for transmitting text information via a series of pulses (dots and dashes) and the silences between them helped the technology achieve a breakthrough. The most important components of the Ericsson Morse Telegraph Type TA 100 for receiving messages (“sounder”) are an electromagnet, an armature, a mechanical clockwork to move the paper tape, a coloured stylus and a roll of paper. A Morse key is required to transmit messages. Date of manufacture: about 1880
In 1883, Englishman Joseph Edmondson obtained a patent for a circular calculating machine based on the stepped-drum mechanism. His design was based on Thomas de Colmar’s simple “arithmomètre”. The advantage of Edmondson’s machine was that it was not limited to a certain number of decimal places if a division produced a remainder. Date of manufacture: about 1885
This machine is a replica of the first Hollerith machine that was used so successfully to complete the first census in the USA thanks to the use of punched cards. It provided a much faster way of counting the vast amount of data gathered. The Hollerith machine consists of two hinged plates, a switch panel with relays, a counting device with 40 counters and a sorting box. When one of the pins on the plates meets a hole in the punched card, a circuit is completed and an electric pulse causes the pointer of a counter to advance accordingly. The respective compartment of the sorting box is also opened, and the operator can place the analysed punched card into it by hand. Functional HNF replica: 2006
The comptometer was the first exclusively key-driven mechanical calculator. The “wooden box” was a precursor to the full-keyboard adding machines built between 1886 and 1904. According to its manufacturer’s promotional material, it was the world’s first adding machine with a practical application. Date of manufacture: about 1900
The Underwood No. 5, which appeared in 1900, was the first classic modern typewriter (with visible text, upper- and lower-case letters and tab stops). It set the standard for all subsequent typewriters worldwide until they were superseded first by IBM electric typewriters, which used a type ball instead of type bars, and then by PCs. Date of manufacture: 1915
This extremely compact table-top telephone with a quirky design was also known as the “Pferdefuss” or “horse’s hoof” in Bavaria due to its shape. It was the approved standard dialling apparatus only in Bavaria. Incidentally, the device was referred to as the “cow’s hoof” in Prussia. Date of manufacture: from 1925 onwards
In 1879 the Ritty brothers filed a patent application for the first cash register in the USA. Businessman John H. Patterson acquired the rights to manufacture cash registers in 1884 and founded the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio. The NCR 400 series models were among the standard cash registers in use at the time. They were favoured by retail outlets because of their robust nature. Model 422 has five rows of keys and features 42 keys in all. The indicators are in English and show sums of pounds and pence. Date of manufacture: 1910
The Kryha Liliput is a very rare cipher machine in pocket-watch format. The machine consisted of two concentric rings, each featuring an alphabet and numbers. The user would operate it by pushing a lever to step the inner ring a random number of places against the outer ring, thereby changing the relationship between the two. Although Kryha’s devices were a commercial success, they were cryptographically weak as the period lengths of the codes were generally quite short. The Kryha Liliput was cryptographically compatible with its “big sister”, the Kryha Standard. Date of manufacture: about 1926
The legendary Enigma cipher machine was developed in the early 1920s by the German engineer Artur Scherbius in Berlin and initially marketed for commercial purposes. The machine has three rotors, each of which performs an alphabetic substitution cipher. By combining the rotors in series and using a plugboard with variable wiring, very complex scrambling of the message can be achieved. Date of manufacture: about 1942
The T52 e was a World War II German cipher machine and teleprinter. Due to its size and weight, however, it was only ever used as a stationary device. Unlike the Enigma, messages were encrypted and deciphered automatically. On 20 July 1944, the resistance group led by Claus von Stauffenberg used the device to issue encrypted commands for Operation Valkyrie, the plot to assassinate Hitler. Date of manufacture: 1942
The first functioning electronic computer consisted of 40 panels with almost 18,000 vacuum tubes. J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly were commissioned to construct a vacuum-tube computer by the US Army in 1943. ENIAC, which was 1,000 times faster than other calculating machines, was developed by the young scientists at the Moore School of Electronics in Philadelphia. It required just eight hours to perform calculations that had previously taken an entire year. The high processing capacity was needed by the US Army to calculate artillery firing tables. Mauchly wanted to use ENIAC’s speed to produce more accurate weather forecasts, which is why its inventors built a “universal machine“. Date of manufacture: 1946
The history of IBM in Germany dates back to 1910, with the founding of DEHOMAG (Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH) in Berlin. The company was renamed IBM Deutschland GmbH in 1949, when it relocated to Böblingen. The D 11 tabulator, which was manufactured from 1935 onwards, was the first German machine of its kind. Used for punched card analysis, its ability to read, count, compute and print cards made it the mainstay of many so-called Hollerith departments. The machine proved a milestone in the development of punched card technology: It was on sale until 1960, latterly as the IBM D11 Type 450. Around 1,100 D 11 models were sold in all. Date of manufacture: between 1949 and 1960
In the early days of telephony, calls were connected manually by a switchboard operator . The next stage of development saw the introduction of automatic telephone exchanges which dispensed with the need for human intervention. A local telephone exchange establishes connections between the subscribers of a local network. In this case, an analogue electrical signal is switched via electromechanical components. If the first digit dialled by the subscriber is a zero, he or she is put through to the trunk or long-distance exchange. The electromechanical system exhibited here was in use in Hagen-Eilpe until 1994, when it was replaced by a digital switching system.
The W48 desktop telephone was developed for the Deutsche Bundespost by Siemens & Halske in 1948 in the western zone of occupied Germany and produced in very large quantities. Date of manufacture: 1954
This is the first computer developed by Heinz Nixdorf. He started work in July 1952 and it took him 15 months to complete. The electronic balancer is equipped with vacuum tubes. It is a one-off machine built especially for materials management at Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), where it supplemented the work of a Remington Rand tabulating machine, whose mechanical mode of operation was no match for the much faster Nixdorf electronics. Date of manufacture: 1953
The accounting machine Exacta-Continental 6000 was the ultimate in electromechanical office equipment: it could manage all accounting tasks with ease. It came with an optional Multitronic electronic multiplication unit manufactured by Heinz Nixdorf’s Labor für Impulstechnik, which signalled the beginning of a new data processing era from 1958 onwards. Date of manufacture: about 1958
The Zuse Z 11 was the first programmable relay computer from ZUSE KG to go into series production. It was used for mathematical calculations, its hard-wired programs having been designed for surveying tasks in particular. The last in a development series of electro-mechanically controlled computer systems, it contained relays as binary switching elements. These may have been slower than vacuum tubes, but were also more reliable, more durable and less expensive. Date of manufacture: 1958
The Curta is the only mechanical pocket calculator that is capable of performing all four basic arithmetic operations. The inventor of this precision-engineered masterpiece was an Austrian, Curt Herzstark (1902-1988). Date of manufacture: about 1965
The Anita was the first all-electronic, tube-based desktop calculator. Not only was it completely silent, but it operated much faster than mechanical machines, and was maintenance-free too. However, tubes were not an optimum technical solution for desktop calculators as they used a lot of electricity, were relatively susceptible to breakage and were expensive to produce. For this reason, this technology remained unique to the Anita. Mass production of such devices only became an option once transistors started to be used from around 1964 onwards. Date of manufacture: 1961
The linotype machine was a “line casting” machine used in printing. It replaced the extremely time-consuming manual type-setting process. The machine, which was patented in 1886, mechanised the setting and casting of letters. The setter entered text at a keyboard: every time a key was pressed, a matrix of the chosen letter fell into position from a magazine. The assembled line of matrices was cast as a single piece of type metal and filled with liquid lead once the spaces between words had been automatically adjusted. After cooling, this produced “A LINE OF TYPES”. Date of manufacture: 1962
At the start of the 1950s, VEB Optima Büromaschinenwerk Erfurt was asked to develop a typewriter for China as part of e socialist initiative to support allied nations. The Erfurt manufacturers based their design on the box-type typewriter first sold in 1917 by Nippon Typewriter Co. Ltd. in Tokyo. The “Chinese Optima” made its début in 1953. Subsequently, the Chinese bicycle factory “Flying Dove” took over production of the device, two versions of which were produced in China under the “Flying Dove” brand until the end of 1992. Date of manufacture: 1992
This computer originated from the Gemini II mission; it featured in an unmanned space flight on 19.01.1965. The Mercury and Gemini space programmes laid the groundwork for the moon landing. From 1963 onwards, the Gemini missions tested orbital coupling manoeuvres necessary to achieve rendezvous and docking. Safe, accurate manoeuvring was only possible with the aid of a computer. IBM’s commission to develop the on-board computer was worth $26.6 million. It was the first computer to have a magnetic core memory so that data was not destroyed when read out. It was also IBM’s first computer to be fully transistorised. The computer proved reliable in operation. Date of manufacture: about 1964
In 1965, the Digital Equipment Corporation presented the PDP-8, thereby marking the beginning of the mini-computer era. Priced at just 18,200 Dollars, this general-purpose computer was robust enough to be used in both production and laboratory environments. Some 10,000 of them were sold within the space of 10 years; by 1975, the PDP-8 cost just 2,600 Dollars. A whole variety of manufacturers tapped into the new market, building computers based on the PDP-8 for use in process and manufacturing technology and for controlling experiments in research. By 1975, more than 30 companies in the West German market alone were selling mini-computers. Date of manufacture: 1965
In 1964, Nixdorf developed the electronics for a desk-top calculator produced by office equipment manufacturer Wanderer, later building the components itself under licence. The “Wanderer Conti” was presented to the public for the first time in 1965 at the Hanover Trade Fair. It was the world’s first fully electronic desk-top calculator with printing output. In terms of design, the four-species calculator was a bona fide computer, boasting an arithmetic unit, a magnetic core memory, a printer and a threaded read-only memory (ROM). The Conti enabled Nixdorf to gain a foothold in the US market when the Chicago-based Victor Comptometer Corporation placed an order worth DM 100 million for the machine in 1968. Date of manufacture: 1966
The Olivetti Valentine is a mechanical typewriter that stands out largely by virtue of its unconventional appearance. It is regarded as a milestone in industrial design and is a sought-after collector’s item. Date of manufacture: early 1970s
The great success enjoyed by Nixdorf at the end of the 1960s and start of the 1970s was based largely on the computers of the 820 series. These were universal computers for companies of all sizes and could be used for almost any application area thanks to their modular construction and consistent application of the modular design system. Date of manufacture: 1974
Canon Canola Pocketronic, Sanyo ICC-82D, Sharp EL-8: The first battery-operated electronic pocket calculators were brought out virtually simultaneously in 1970 by Japanese firms Sanyo, Sharp and Canon. However, the "heart" of these first pocket calculators – the microchip – was produced by US companies such as Texas Instruments and Rockwell. Texas Instruments had developed the first portable prototype as early as 1967. But the Cal-Tech, as it was known, was merely supposed to demonstrate the power of the new chip and never went into series production. The huge sales potential of the pocket calculator had yet to be recognised, especially since it was still too expensive to produce. It was for this reason that Texas Instruments sold the technical design of the Cal-Tech to Canon, and only brought out its own pocket calculator in 1972. Date of manufacture: 1970
The Odyssey console laid the foundations for the video game era. In 1966 Ralph Baer, a US engineer of German descent, filed a patent for a kind of ping-pong game. This was ultimately granted in 1968. It was not until 1972 that the game was distributed with a gaming console by Magnavox. Poor marketing meant that although the video game wasn’t a commercial flop, it wasn’t a resounding financial success either. Date of manufacture: 1972
The HP-35 was the world's first scientific pocket calculator. Before it came along, slide rules and logarithm tables were required for trigonometric and exponential functions. Pocket calculators were only capable of the four basic arithmetic operations. The price for an HP-35 in 1972 was about DM 2,000. Date of manufacture: 1972
In 1970, the photocopier company Xerox founded a research centre in Palo Alto known as PARC. This is where the Xerox Alto was developed, a forerunner of much of the PC technology taken for granted today. The Alto had a graphical user interface and a mouse, and was the model on which first the Macintosh, then Windows were based. It was also fully network-capable: the Ethernet was another Xerox PARC invention. Many Alto system engineers later worked on the Apple Macintosh. Only around 1,000 examples of the Alto were built; it was a prototype and was never launched on the market. Date of manufacture: 1973
The January 1975 issue of the magazine Popular Electronics featured the forerunner of the first personal computer, the Altair 8800, which had been designed by Ed Roberts and his company MITS. It was available as a kit for 397 US dollars, making it the first computer that ordinary consumers could afford and marking the advent of widespread PC use. Incidentally, the Altair's name comes from a TV series. The twelve-year-old daughter of editor Les Solomon said: “Call it Altair. That's where the Enterprise is heading tonight.“ Date of manufacture: 1975
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple on 1 April 1976. Soon afterwards, they presented their first computer: the Apple I. A total of only 200 Apple I computers were made. Jobs and Wozniak built it in Jobs's parents' garage in Los Altos, California and sold it for $666. The Apple I was actually just a circuit board. Users had to make their own housing for it and add input and output devices themselves. There are still around 70 Apple I computers in existence worldwide. Date of manufacture: 1976
The Apple II was the first “personal“ desktop computer to achieve commercial success. In contrast to the Apple I, the main board was supplied in a plastic housing together with a keyboard, a monitor and software.  The Apple Writer word processor and VisiCalc spreadsheet software were key to its success. The Apple II marked the start of Apple's rise to become the world's most successful company. Date of manufacture: 1977
The computer centre from the Sachsenwerk in Dresden is part of a system that was only shut down in 1993. It played a role in GDR computer history and a part in the success story of a major computer system. The Einheitliches System Elektronischer Rechenanlagen (standardized system of electronic computers) is the functional replica of an IBM computer: ESER 1055 is compatible with the 370/155 in terms of hardware and software alike. These computer systems were built until well into the 1980s. Date of manufacture: about 1979
Whenever computers were mentioned in the 1960s and 1970s, IBM was the name on everyone's lips. Despite this, the manufacturing giant was so slow to react that it almost missed out on the personal computer revolution, eventually launching its own PC 5150 in August 1981. The device proved an immediate hit, becoming an office mainstay. After all, it was a product of THE computer company, a fact which engendered trust among businesses that had not had any faith in the models available on the market thus far. The IBM PC, which ran with Microsoft's DOS operating system, provided the industry standard that had been lacking for so long. Date of manufacture: 1984
When Adam Osborne founded his computer firm, he was already well-known on the burgeoning home-computer scene thanks to numerous books and articles he had published. Although others before him had toyed with the idea of building a portable computer, his model, the Osborne 1, was the first on the market. Compared with today’s laptops, the Osborne 1 was extremely heavy and unwieldy. Despite this drawback, it proved a big success and almost became a cult object. Unfortunately, Osborne’s company went bankrupt in 1983. Date of manufacture: 1983
Commodore presented the C64 in 1982. Two years after its launch, four million units had already been sold, breaking all previous records for computer sales. Ultimately, a total of over 20 million C64 computers were sold throughout the world. The C64 was sometimes referred to as the “breadbox“ or even the “neck rest“ due to its shape. Date of manufacture: 1982
Motorola launched the first commercial mobile phone in 1983: the Dynatac 8000X. This bulky forebear of today's mobile phones weighed almost 750 grams and cost around $400. Date of manufacture: 1983
Apple launched the Macintosh on 24 January 1984. The Mac broke with all the previously accepted notions about PCs. When Jef Raskin, the father of the Mac, proposed the project in 1979, his idea was to design a computer that was geared to people. The Mac enabled normal users to become acquainted with the graphical user interface featuring desktop, mouse and windows. All they had to do beforehand was to unpack it and plug it in. Although the Mac lost out to the IBM PCs in the office environment, it revolutionised the entire graphic design industry. Date of manufacture: 1984
The Cray-2 was the fastest computer in the world in 1985. It weighed 2.5 tonnes. It was supplied as a supercomputer with up to four processors, a peak performance of 2 GFLOPS, 2 GB of memory and a maximum clock speed of 4.1 ns. It is notable for its striking design. A total of 27 units were sold. Date of manufacture: 1985
The Nintendo Game Boy proved to be one of the most successful products in the company’s history. The hand-held video game device was launched on the market in a plain grey-and-white version in 1989. Its robust technology, ease of operation and low battery consumption all helped to make it the biggest-selling console of the time. Although the Game Boy was initially only available with the game Tetris, strangely enough this became part of its appeal: it wasn’t just for hard-core players, but for everyone. The Game Boy was manufactured until 2002 and 120 million devices were sold in all. Date of manufacture: about 1990
The Newton was Apple’s attempt to create a revolutionary new device. A feature of the PDA (Private Digital Assistant) was handwriting recognition software; the device also came with a stylus which was supposed to make entering text child’s play. The touch-sensitive screen would detect characters and words automatically as they were written. However, this feature never really worked properly at market launch, something which gave rise to less than glowing reviews in the press. The project was halted in 1998 when company founder Steve Jobs re-joined the company. Date of manufacture: 1993
Robot soccer represents a major challenge for researchers in the field of artificial intelligence. A proving ground for the state of science in this field, it is also a means of promoting university-level education. Since 1997, international RoboCup matches featuring research teams from all over the world have been held in various leagues. This model – a third-generation, Middle Size League robot – belongs to the Fraunhofer Institut. Each robot has its own sensors and can make decisions completely autonomously. The robots can, however, communicate wirelessly with one another and with a computer. Date of manufacture: 1999
The robot dog AIBO was perhaps the most technically sophisticated toy ever to be created by its Japanese manufacturer Sony: the battery-operated dog came with 18 electrically controlled joints, microphones, loudspeakers, emotion display, 64-bit processor and a balance system to enable it to stand up. Date of manufacture: 1999
Lauron stands for “LAUfROboter Neuronal gesteuert” (English: “Walking Robot, Neural Controlled”). The walking robot (the 3rd generation of which is on show) was developed in order to research statically stable walking in rough terrain. Its movements are biologically inspired, mimicking those of a stick insect. Each leg can respond semi-autonomously to impulses; the movements are coordinated at a higher level. Lauron is able to gather information about its environment and plan a path towards a given goal autonomously. While walking, the robot uses sensors to detect potential obstacles and then either walks over or around them. Date of manufacture: 1999
Using a camera, this 2nd-generation face robot scans the viewer’s facial expression, which is then recognised and interpreted by software based on a neural net. From a repertoire of pre-programmed responses, the robot’s mechanism is activated and a matching facial expression is generated. The mechanical and electronic parts of the Mark II were covered by a silicone skin to create a robot face that looks as human as possible. Fumio Hara, Science University of Tokyo, Japan, 2001
RoboThespian is a life-sized humanoid robot designed for human interaction in public environments. It can sing as well as tell jokes and recite text passages. Visitors can choose from a selection of programmed text sequences for the metallic creation to read out, accompanied by a range of gestures. Date of manufacture: 2011
The earliest documents written on clay tablets in cuneiform script were used for tax and accounting purposes. Records were kept of the bread rations paid to workers, for example. The precise history is not known. About 2350-2100 BC
Wilhelm Schickard wanted to “mechanise” the laborious and error-prone task of calculating astronomical tables. In 1623 he had two calculating machines built to his specifications in a mechanic’s workshop in Tübingen – one for himself, the other for Johannes Kepler. The practical benefits of his “calculating clock” appeared somewhat dubious at the time, as the system based on logarithmic tables was superior. Regrettably, both machines were destroyed in a fire at the workshop and the invention was forgotten. This reconstruction of the machine by Baron von Freytag Löringhoff was completed in 1957. Date of manufacture: 1957
In 1678, French watchmaker René Grillet presented the “Machine arithmétique” which was capable of carrying out all four basic arithmetic operations. Constructed largely out of paper, the invention used so-called Napier’s rods that had been around since 1617 for the calculation process. It is an excellent example of the early days of mechanical calculation and an ancestor of today’s pocket calculator. Date of manufacture: 1678
This calculating machine, invented by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, was built in the years from 1690 to 1720. It represents a historic milestone in the development of mechanical calculating machines because it was the first to perform all four arithmetic operations. Leibniz's operating mechanism, known as the stepped cylinder or Leibniz wheel, allowed multiplication to be performed mechanically and remained an indispensable component of mechanical calculators for over 200 years. Functioning replica of the only remaining original (at the Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek in Hanover), built to plans by N. Joachim Lehmann. HNF replica: 1995
The device popularly known as the “Chess Turk“ was built in 1769 by Austrian court official Wolfgang von Kempelen in such a way as to convince spectators that they were watching an “automated chess player“. In fact an individual of quite normal size sat inside and controlled the gripper arm with the aid of levers and cable winches. Magnetised chess pieces and small magnetic pins on the underside of the board enabled the moves to be followed by the person within. Functional HNF replica: 2004
An Arithmometer is a mechanical calculating machine invented by the Frenchman Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar (1785-1870). It was the world's first calculating machine to go into series production. As well as addition and subtraction, it could perform multiplication and division by means of repeated addition and subtraction. This luxury version of the calculating machine was a gift to the king of Portugal. Date of manufacture: about 1855
The Hansen Writing Ball was the world's first typewriter to be produced commercially, albeit in small batches. It was developed in 1865 by Rasmus Johann Malling-Hansen, a Danish pastor and teacher of deaf-mutes. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a well-known user. Date of manufacture: about 1878
The name Morse and the code of the same name became synonymous with telegraphy. His procedure for transmitting text information via a series of pulses (dots and dashes) and the silences between them helped the technology achieve a breakthrough. The most important components of the Ericsson Morse Telegraph Type TA 100 for receiving messages (“sounder”) are an electromagnet, an armature, a mechanical clockwork to move the paper tape, a coloured stylus and a roll of paper. A Morse key is required to transmit messages. Date of manufacture: about 1880
In 1883, Englishman Joseph Edmondson obtained a patent for a circular calculating machine based on the stepped-drum mechanism. His design was based on Thomas de Colmar’s simple “arithmomètre”. The advantage of Edmondson’s machine was that it was not limited to a certain number of decimal places if a division produced a remainder. Date of manufacture: about 1885
This machine is a replica of the first Hollerith machine that was used so successfully to complete the first census in the USA thanks to the use of punched cards. It provided a much faster way of counting the vast amount of data gathered. The Hollerith machine consists of two hinged plates, a switch panel with relays, a counting device with 40 counters and a sorting box. When one of the pins on the plates meets a hole in the punched card, a circuit is completed and an electric pulse causes the pointer of a counter to advance accordingly. The respective compartment of the sorting box is also opened, and the operator can place the analysed punched card into it by hand. Functional HNF replica: 2006
The comptometer was the first exclusively key-driven mechanical calculator. The “wooden box” was a precursor to the full-keyboard adding machines built between 1886 and 1904. According to its manufacturer’s promotional material, it was the world’s first adding machine with a practical application. Date of manufacture: about 1900
The Underwood No. 5, which appeared in 1900, was the first classic modern typewriter (with visible text, upper- and lower-case letters and tab stops). It set the standard for all subsequent typewriters worldwide until they were superseded first by IBM electric typewriters, which used a type ball instead of type bars, and then by PCs. Date of manufacture: 1915
This extremely compact table-top telephone with a quirky design was also known as the “Pferdefuss” or “horse’s hoof” in Bavaria due to its shape. It was the approved standard dialling apparatus only in Bavaria. Incidentally, the device was referred to as the “cow’s hoof” in Prussia. Date of manufacture: from 1925 onwards
In 1879 the Ritty brothers filed a patent application for the first cash register in the USA. Businessman John H. Patterson acquired the rights to manufacture cash registers in 1884 and founded the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio. The NCR 400 series models were among the standard cash registers in use at the time. They were favoured by retail outlets because of their robust nature. Model 422 has five rows of keys and features 42 keys in all. The indicators are in English and show sums of pounds and pence. Date of manufacture: 1910
The Kryha Liliput is a very rare cipher machine in pocket-watch format. The machine consisted of two concentric rings, each featuring an alphabet and numbers. The user would operate it by pushing a lever to step the inner ring a random number of places against the outer ring, thereby changing the relationship between the two. Although Kryha’s devices were a commercial success, they were cryptographically weak as the period lengths of the codes were generally quite short. The Kryha Liliput was cryptographically compatible with its “big sister”, the Kryha Standard. Date of manufacture: about 1926
The legendary Enigma cipher machine was developed in the early 1920s by the German engineer Artur Scherbius in Berlin and initially marketed for commercial purposes. The machine has three rotors, each of which performs an alphabetic substitution cipher. By combining the rotors in series and using a plugboard with variable wiring, very complex scrambling of the message can be achieved. Date of manufacture: about 1942
The T52 e was a World War II German cipher machine and teleprinter. Due to its size and weight, however, it was only ever used as a stationary device. Unlike the Enigma, messages were encrypted and deciphered automatically. On 20 July 1944, the resistance group led by Claus von Stauffenberg used the device to issue encrypted commands for Operation Valkyrie, the plot to assassinate Hitler. Date of manufacture: 1942
The first functioning electronic computer consisted of 40 panels with almost 18,000 vacuum tubes. J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly were commissioned to construct a vacuum-tube computer by the US Army in 1943. ENIAC, which was 1,000 times faster than other calculating machines, was developed by the young scientists at the Moore School of Electronics in Philadelphia. It required just eight hours to perform calculations that had previously taken an entire year. The high processing capacity was needed by the US Army to calculate artillery firing tables. Mauchly wanted to use ENIAC’s speed to produce more accurate weather forecasts, which is why its inventors built a “universal machine“. Date of manufacture: 1946
The history of IBM in Germany dates back to 1910, with the founding of DEHOMAG (Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH) in Berlin. The company was renamed IBM Deutschland GmbH in 1949, when it relocated to Böblingen. The D 11 tabulator, which was manufactured from 1935 onwards, was the first German machine of its kind. Used for punched card analysis, its ability to read, count, compute and print cards made it the mainstay of many so-called Hollerith departments. The machine proved a milestone in the development of punched card technology: It was on sale until 1960, latterly as the IBM D11 Type 450. Around 1,100 D 11 models were sold in all. Date of manufacture: between 1949 and 1960
In the early days of telephony, calls were connected manually by a switchboard operator . The next stage of development saw the introduction of automatic telephone exchanges which dispensed with the need for human intervention. A local telephone exchange establishes connections between the subscribers of a local network. In this case, an analogue electrical signal is switched via electromechanical components. If the first digit dialled by the subscriber is a zero, he or she is put through to the trunk or long-distance exchange. The electromechanical system exhibited here was in use in Hagen-Eilpe until 1994, when it was replaced by a digital switching system.
The W48 desktop telephone was developed for the Deutsche Bundespost by Siemens & Halske in 1948 in the western zone of occupied Germany and produced in very large quantities. Date of manufacture: 1954
This is the first computer developed by Heinz Nixdorf. He started work in July 1952 and it took him 15 months to complete. The electronic balancer is equipped with vacuum tubes. It is a one-off machine built especially for materials management at Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), where it supplemented the work of a Remington Rand tabulating machine, whose mechanical mode of operation was no match for the much faster Nixdorf electronics. Date of manufacture: 1953
The accounting machine Exacta-Continental 6000 was the ultimate in electromechanical office equipment: it could manage all accounting tasks with ease. It came with an optional Multitronic electronic multiplication unit manufactured by Heinz Nixdorf’s Labor für Impulstechnik, which signalled the beginning of a new data processing era from 1958 onwards. Date of manufacture: about 1958
The Zuse Z 11 was the first programmable relay computer from ZUSE KG to go into series production. It was used for mathematical calculations, its hard-wired programs having been designed for surveying tasks in particular. The last in a development series of electro-mechanically controlled computer systems, it contained relays as binary switching elements. These may have been slower than vacuum tubes, but were also more reliable, more durable and less expensive. Date of manufacture: 1958
The Curta is the only mechanical pocket calculator that is capable of performing all four basic arithmetic operations. The inventor of this precision-engineered masterpiece was an Austrian, Curt Herzstark (1902-1988). Date of manufacture: about 1965
The Anita was the first all-electronic, tube-based desktop calculator. Not only was it completely silent, but it operated much faster than mechanical machines, and was maintenance-free too. However, tubes were not an optimum technical solution for desktop calculators as they used a lot of electricity, were relatively susceptible to breakage and were expensive to produce. For this reason, this technology remained unique to the Anita. Mass production of such devices only became an option once transistors started to be used from around 1964 onwards. Date of manufacture: 1961
The linotype machine was a “line casting” machine used in printing. It replaced the extremely time-consuming manual type-setting process. The machine, which was patented in 1886, mechanised the setting and casting of letters. The setter entered text at a keyboard: every time a key was pressed, a matrix of the chosen letter fell into position from a magazine. The assembled line of matrices was cast as a single piece of type metal and filled with liquid lead once the spaces between words had been automatically adjusted. After cooling, this produced “A LINE OF TYPES”. Date of manufacture: 1962
At the start of the 1950s, VEB Optima Büromaschinenwerk Erfurt was asked to develop a typewriter for China as part of e socialist initiative to support allied nations. The Erfurt manufacturers based their design on the box-type typewriter first sold in 1917 by Nippon Typewriter Co. Ltd. in Tokyo. The “Chinese Optima” made its début in 1953. Subsequently, the Chinese bicycle factory “Flying Dove” took over production of the device, two versions of which were produced in China under the “Flying Dove” brand until the end of 1992. Date of manufacture: 1992
This computer originated from the Gemini II mission; it featured in an unmanned space flight on 19.01.1965. The Mercury and Gemini space programmes laid the groundwork for the moon landing. From 1963 onwards, the Gemini missions tested orbital coupling manoeuvres necessary to achieve rendezvous and docking. Safe, accurate manoeuvring was only possible with the aid of a computer. IBM’s commission to develop the on-board computer was worth $26.6 million. It was the first computer to have a magnetic core memory so that data was not destroyed when read out. It was also IBM’s first computer to be fully transistorised. The computer proved reliable in operation. Date of manufacture: about 1964
In 1965, the Digital Equipment Corporation presented the PDP-8, thereby marking the beginning of the mini-computer era. Priced at just 18,200 Dollars, this general-purpose computer was robust enough to be used in both production and laboratory environments. Some 10,000 of them were sold within the space of 10 years; by 1975, the PDP-8 cost just 2,600 Dollars. A whole variety of manufacturers tapped into the new market, building computers based on the PDP-8 for use in process and manufacturing technology and for controlling experiments in research. By 1975, more than 30 companies in the West German market alone were selling mini-computers. Date of manufacture: 1965
In 1964, Nixdorf developed the electronics for a desk-top calculator produced by office equipment manufacturer Wanderer, later building the components itself under licence. The “Wanderer Conti” was presented to the public for the first time in 1965 at the Hanover Trade Fair. It was the world’s first fully electronic desk-top calculator with printing output. In terms of design, the four-species calculator was a bona fide computer, boasting an arithmetic unit, a magnetic core memory, a printer and a threaded read-only memory (ROM). The Conti enabled Nixdorf to gain a foothold in the US market when the Chicago-based Victor Comptometer Corporation placed an order worth DM 100 million for the machine in 1968. Date of manufacture: 1966
The Olivetti Valentine is a mechanical typewriter that stands out largely by virtue of its unconventional appearance. It is regarded as a milestone in industrial design and is a sought-after collector’s item. Date of manufacture: early 1970s
The great success enjoyed by Nixdorf at the end of the 1960s and start of the 1970s was based largely on the computers of the 820 series. These were universal computers for companies of all sizes and could be used for almost any application area thanks to their modular construction and consistent application of the modular design system. Date of manufacture: 1974
Canon Canola Pocketronic, Sanyo ICC-82D, Sharp EL-8: The first battery-operated electronic pocket calculators were brought out virtually simultaneously in 1970 by Japanese firms Sanyo, Sharp and Canon. However, the "heart" of these first pocket calculators – the microchip – was produced by US companies such as Texas Instruments and Rockwell. Texas Instruments had developed the first portable prototype as early as 1967. But the Cal-Tech, as it was known, was merely supposed to demonstrate the power of the new chip and never went into series production. The huge sales potential of the pocket calculator had yet to be recognised, especially since it was still too expensive to produce. It was for this reason that Texas Instruments sold the technical design of the Cal-Tech to Canon, and only brought out its own pocket calculator in 1972. Date of manufacture: 1970
The Odyssey console laid the foundations for the video game era. In 1966 Ralph Baer, a US engineer of German descent, filed a patent for a kind of ping-pong game. This was ultimately granted in 1968. It was not until 1972 that the game was distributed with a gaming console by Magnavox. Poor marketing meant that although the video game wasn’t a commercial flop, it wasn’t a resounding financial success either. Date of manufacture: 1972
The HP-35 was the world's first scientific pocket calculator. Before it came along, slide rules and logarithm tables were required for trigonometric and exponential functions. Pocket calculators were only capable of the four basic arithmetic operations. The price for an HP-35 in 1972 was about DM 2,000. Date of manufacture: 1972
In 1970, the photocopier company Xerox founded a research centre in Palo Alto known as PARC. This is where the Xerox Alto was developed, a forerunner of much of the PC technology taken for granted today. The Alto had a graphical user interface and a mouse, and was the model on which first the Macintosh, then Windows were based. It was also fully network-capable: the Ethernet was another Xerox PARC invention. Many Alto system engineers later worked on the Apple Macintosh. Only around 1,000 examples of the Alto were built; it was a prototype and was never launched on the market. Date of manufacture: 1973
The January 1975 issue of the magazine Popular Electronics featured the forerunner of the first personal computer, the Altair 8800, which had been designed by Ed Roberts and his company MITS. It was available as a kit for 397 US dollars, making it the first computer that ordinary consumers could afford and marking the advent of widespread PC use. Incidentally, the Altair's name comes from a TV series. The twelve-year-old daughter of editor Les Solomon said: “Call it Altair. That's where the Enterprise is heading tonight.“ Date of manufacture: 1975
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple on 1 April 1976. Soon afterwards, they presented their first computer: the Apple I. A total of only 200 Apple I computers were made. Jobs and Wozniak built it in Jobs's parents' garage in Los Altos, California and sold it for $666. The Apple I was actually just a circuit board. Users had to make their own housing for it and add input and output devices themselves. There are still around 70 Apple I computers in existence worldwide. Date of manufacture: 1976
The Apple II was the first “personal“ desktop computer to achieve commercial success. In contrast to the Apple I, the main board was supplied in a plastic housing together with a keyboard, a monitor and software.  The Apple Writer word processor and VisiCalc spreadsheet software were key to its success. The Apple II marked the start of Apple's rise to become the world's most successful company. Date of manufacture: 1977
The computer centre from the Sachsenwerk in Dresden is part of a system that was only shut down in 1993. It played a role in GDR computer history and a part in the success story of a major computer system. The Einheitliches System Elektronischer Rechenanlagen (standardized system of electronic computers) is the functional replica of an IBM computer: ESER 1055 is compatible with the 370/155 in terms of hardware and software alike. These computer systems were built until well into the 1980s. Date of manufacture: about 1979
Whenever computers were mentioned in the 1960s and 1970s, IBM was the name on everyone's lips. Despite this, the manufacturing giant was so slow to react that it almost missed out on the personal computer revolution, eventually launching its own PC 5150 in August 1981. The device proved an immediate hit, becoming an office mainstay. After all, it was a product of THE computer company, a fact which engendered trust among businesses that had not had any faith in the models available on the market thus far. The IBM PC, which ran with Microsoft's DOS operating system, provided the industry standard that had been lacking for so long. Date of manufacture: 1984
When Adam Osborne founded his computer firm, he was already well-known on the burgeoning home-computer scene thanks to numerous books and articles he had published. Although others before him had toyed with the idea of building a portable computer, his model, the Osborne 1, was the first on the market. Compared with today’s laptops, the Osborne 1 was extremely heavy and unwieldy. Despite this drawback, it proved a big success and almost became a cult object. Unfortunately, Osborne’s company went bankrupt in 1983. Date of manufacture: 1983
Commodore presented the C64 in 1982. Two years after its launch, four million units had already been sold, breaking all previous records for computer sales. Ultimately, a total of over 20 million C64 computers were sold throughout the world. The C64 was sometimes referred to as the “breadbox“ or even the “neck rest“ due to its shape. Date of manufacture: 1982
Motorola launched the first commercial mobile phone in 1983: the Dynatac 8000X. This bulky forebear of today's mobile phones weighed almost 750 grams and cost around $400. Date of manufacture: 1983
Apple launched the Macintosh on 24 January 1984. The Mac broke with all the previously accepted notions about PCs. When Jef Raskin, the father of the Mac, proposed the project in 1979, his idea was to design a computer that was geared to people. The Mac enabled normal users to become acquainted with the graphical user interface featuring desktop, mouse and windows. All they had to do beforehand was to unpack it and plug it in. Although the Mac lost out to the IBM PCs in the office environment, it revolutionised the entire graphic design industry. Date of manufacture: 1984
The Cray-2 was the fastest computer in the world in 1985. It weighed 2.5 tonnes. It was supplied as a supercomputer with up to four processors, a peak performance of 2 GFLOPS, 2 GB of memory and a maximum clock speed of 4.1 ns. It is notable for its striking design. A total of 27 units were sold. Date of manufacture: 1985
The Nintendo Game Boy proved to be one of the most successful products in the company’s history. The hand-held video game device was launched on the market in a plain grey-and-white version in 1989. Its robust technology, ease of operation and low battery consumption all helped to make it the biggest-selling console of the time. Although the Game Boy was initially only available with the game Tetris, strangely enough this became part of its appeal: it wasn’t just for hard-core players, but for everyone. The Game Boy was manufactured until 2002 and 120 million devices were sold in all. Date of manufacture: about 1990
The Newton was Apple’s attempt to create a revolutionary new device. A feature of the PDA (Private Digital Assistant) was handwriting recognition software; the device also came with a stylus which was supposed to make entering text child’s play. The touch-sensitive screen would detect characters and words automatically as they were written. However, this feature never really worked properly at market launch, something which gave rise to less than glowing reviews in the press. The project was halted in 1998 when company founder Steve Jobs re-joined the company. Date of manufacture: 1993
Robot soccer represents a major challenge for researchers in the field of artificial intelligence. A proving ground for the state of science in this field, it is also a means of promoting university-level education. Since 1997, international RoboCup matches featuring research teams from all over the world have been held in various leagues. This model – a third-generation, Middle Size League robot – belongs to the Fraunhofer Institut. Each robot has its own sensors and can make decisions completely autonomously. The robots can, however, communicate wirelessly with one another and with a computer. Date of manufacture: 1999
The robot dog AIBO was perhaps the most technically sophisticated toy ever to be created by its Japanese manufacturer Sony: the battery-operated dog came with 18 electrically controlled joints, microphones, loudspeakers, emotion display, 64-bit processor and a balance system to enable it to stand up. Date of manufacture: 1999
Lauron stands for “LAUfROboter Neuronal gesteuert” (English: “Walking Robot, Neural Controlled”). The walking robot (the 3rd generation of which is on show) was developed in order to research statically stable walking in rough terrain. Its movements are biologically inspired, mimicking those of a stick insect. Each leg can respond semi-autonomously to impulses; the movements are coordinated at a higher level. Lauron is able to gather information about its environment and plan a path towards a given goal autonomously. While walking, the robot uses sensors to detect potential obstacles and then either walks over or around them. Date of manufacture: 1999
Using a camera, this 2nd-generation face robot scans the viewer’s facial expression, which is then recognised and interpreted by software based on a neural net. From a repertoire of pre-programmed responses, the robot’s mechanism is activated and a matching facial expression is generated. The mechanical and electronic parts of the Mark II were covered by a silicone skin to create a robot face that looks as human as possible. Fumio Hara, Science University of Tokyo, Japan, 2001
RoboThespian is a life-sized humanoid robot designed for human interaction in public environments. It can sing as well as tell jokes and recite text passages. Visitors can choose from a selection of programmed text sequences for the metallic creation to read out, accompanied by a range of gestures. Date of manufacture: 2011
The earliest documents written on clay tablets in cuneiform script were used for tax and accounting purposes. Records were kept of the bread rations paid to workers, for example. The precise history is not known. About 2350-2100 BC
Wilhelm Schickard wanted to “mechanise” the laborious and error-prone task of calculating astronomical tables. In 1623 he had two calculating machines built to his specifications in a mechanic’s workshop in Tübingen – one for himself, the other for Johannes Kepler. The practical benefits of his “calculating clock” appeared somewhat dubious at the time, as the system based on logarithmic tables was superior. Regrettably, both machines were destroyed in a fire at the workshop and the invention was forgotten. This reconstruction of the machine by Baron von Freytag Löringhoff was completed in 1957. Date of manufacture: 1957
In 1678, French watchmaker René Grillet presented the “Machine arithmétique” which was capable of carrying out all four basic arithmetic operations. Constructed largely out of paper, the invention used so-called Napier’s rods that had been around since 1617 for the calculation process. It is an excellent example of the early days of mechanical calculation and an ancestor of today’s pocket calculator. Date of manufacture: 1678
This calculating machine, invented by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, was built in the years from 1690 to 1720. It represents a historic milestone in the development of mechanical calculating machines because it was the first to perform all four arithmetic operations. Leibniz's operating mechanism, known as the stepped cylinder or Leibniz wheel, allowed multiplication to be performed mechanically and remained an indispensable component of mechanical calculators for over 200 years. Functioning replica of the only remaining original (at the Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek in Hanover), built to plans by N. Joachim Lehmann. HNF replica: 1995
The device popularly known as the “Chess Turk“ was built in 1769 by Austrian court official Wolfgang von Kempelen in such a way as to convince spectators that they were watching an “automated chess player“. In fact an individual of quite normal size sat inside and controlled the gripper arm with the aid of levers and cable winches. Magnetised chess pieces and small magnetic pins on the underside of the board enabled the moves to be followed by the person within. Functional HNF replica: 2004
An Arithmometer is a mechanical calculating machine invented by the Frenchman Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar (1785-1870). It was the world's first calculating machine to go into series production. As well as addition and subtraction, it could perform multiplication and division by means of repeated addition and subtraction. This luxury version of the calculating machine was a gift to the king of Portugal. Date of manufacture: about 1855
The Hansen Writing Ball was the world's first typewriter to be produced commercially, albeit in small batches. It was developed in 1865 by Rasmus Johann Malling-Hansen, a Danish pastor and teacher of deaf-mutes. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a well-known user. Date of manufacture: about 1878
The name Morse and the code of the same name became synonymous with telegraphy. His procedure for transmitting text information via a series of pulses (dots and dashes) and the silences between them helped the technology achieve a breakthrough. The most important components of the Ericsson Morse Telegraph Type TA 100 for receiving messages (“sounder”) are an electromagnet, an armature, a mechanical clockwork to move the paper tape, a coloured stylus and a roll of paper. A Morse key is required to transmit messages. Date of manufacture: about 1880
In 1883, Englishman Joseph Edmondson obtained a patent for a circular calculating machine based on the stepped-drum mechanism. His design was based on Thomas de Colmar’s simple “arithmomètre”. The advantage of Edmondson’s machine was that it was not limited to a certain number of decimal places if a division produced a remainder. Date of manufacture: about 1885
This machine is a replica of the first Hollerith machine that was used so successfully to complete the first census in the USA thanks to the use of punched cards. It provided a much faster way of counting the vast amount of data gathered. The Hollerith machine consists of two hinged plates, a switch panel with relays, a counting device with 40 counters and a sorting box. When one of the pins on the plates meets a hole in the punched card, a circuit is completed and an electric pulse causes the pointer of a counter to advance accordingly. The respective compartment of the sorting box is also opened, and the operator can place the analysed punched card into it by hand. Functional HNF replica: 2006
The comptometer was the first exclusively key-driven mechanical calculator. The “wooden box” was a precursor to the full-keyboard adding machines built between 1886 and 1904. According to its manufacturer’s promotional material, it was the world’s first adding machine with a practical application. Date of manufacture: about 1900
The Underwood No. 5, which appeared in 1900, was the first classic modern typewriter (with visible text, upper- and lower-case letters and tab stops). It set the standard for all subsequent typewriters worldwide until they were superseded first by IBM electric typewriters, which used a type ball instead of type bars, and then by PCs. Date of manufacture: 1915
This extremely compact table-top telephone with a quirky design was also known as the “Pferdefuss” or “horse’s hoof” in Bavaria due to its shape. It was the approved standard dialling apparatus only in Bavaria. Incidentally, the device was referred to as the “cow’s hoof” in Prussia. Date of manufacture: from 1925 onwards
In 1879 the Ritty brothers filed a patent application for the first cash register in the USA. Businessman John H. Patterson acquired the rights to manufacture cash registers in 1884 and founded the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio. The NCR 400 series models were among the standard cash registers in use at the time. They were favoured by retail outlets because of their robust nature. Model 422 has five rows of keys and features 42 keys in all. The indicators are in English and show sums of pounds and pence. Date of manufacture: 1910
The Kryha Liliput is a very rare cipher machine in pocket-watch format. The machine consisted of two concentric rings, each featuring an alphabet and numbers. The user would operate it by pushing a lever to step the inner ring a random number of places against the outer ring, thereby changing the relationship between the two. Although Kryha’s devices were a commercial success, they were cryptographically weak as the period lengths of the codes were generally quite short. The Kryha Liliput was cryptographically compatible with its “big sister”, the Kryha Standard. Date of manufacture: about 1926
The legendary Enigma cipher machine was developed in the early 1920s by the German engineer Artur Scherbius in Berlin and initially marketed for commercial purposes. The machine has three rotors, each of which performs an alphabetic substitution cipher. By combining the rotors in series and using a plugboard with variable wiring, very complex scrambling of the message can be achieved. Date of manufacture: about 1942
The T52 e was a World War II German cipher machine and teleprinter. Due to its size and weight, however, it was only ever used as a stationary device. Unlike the Enigma, messages were encrypted and deciphered automatically. On 20 July 1944, the resistance group led by Claus von Stauffenberg used the device to issue encrypted commands for Operation Valkyrie, the plot to assassinate Hitler. Date of manufacture: 1942
The first functioning electronic computer consisted of 40 panels with almost 18,000 vacuum tubes. J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly were commissioned to construct a vacuum-tube computer by the US Army in 1943. ENIAC, which was 1,000 times faster than other calculating machines, was developed by the young scientists at the Moore School of Electronics in Philadelphia. It required just eight hours to perform calculations that had previously taken an entire year. The high processing capacity was needed by the US Army to calculate artillery firing tables. Mauchly wanted to use ENIAC’s speed to produce more accurate weather forecasts, which is why its inventors built a “universal machine“. Date of manufacture: 1946
The history of IBM in Germany dates back to 1910, with the founding of DEHOMAG (Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH) in Berlin. The company was renamed IBM Deutschland GmbH in 1949, when it relocated to Böblingen. The D 11 tabulator, which was manufactured from 1935 onwards, was the first German machine of its kind. Used for punched card analysis, its ability to read, count, compute and print cards made it the mainstay of many so-called Hollerith departments. The machine proved a milestone in the development of punched card technology: It was on sale until 1960, latterly as the IBM D11 Type 450. Around 1,100 D 11 models were sold in all. Date of manufacture: between 1949 and 1960
In the early days of telephony, calls were connected manually by a switchboard operator . The next stage of development saw the introduction of automatic telephone exchanges which dispensed with the need for human intervention. A local telephone exchange establishes connections between the subscribers of a local network. In this case, an analogue electrical signal is switched via electromechanical components. If the first digit dialled by the subscriber is a zero, he or she is put through to the trunk or long-distance exchange. The electromechanical system exhibited here was in use in Hagen-Eilpe until 1994, when it was replaced by a digital switching system.
The W48 desktop telephone was developed for the Deutsche Bundespost by Siemens & Halske in 1948 in the western zone of occupied Germany and produced in very large quantities. Date of manufacture: 1954
This is the first computer developed by Heinz Nixdorf. He started work in July 1952 and it took him 15 months to complete. The electronic balancer is equipped with vacuum tubes. It is a one-off machine built especially for materials management at Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), where it supplemented the work of a Remington Rand tabulating machine, whose mechanical mode of operation was no match for the much faster Nixdorf electronics. Date of manufacture: 1953
The accounting machine Exacta-Continental 6000 was the ultimate in electromechanical office equipment: it could manage all accounting tasks with ease. It came with an optional Multitronic electronic multiplication unit manufactured by Heinz Nixdorf’s Labor für Impulstechnik, which signalled the beginning of a new data processing era from 1958 onwards. Date of manufacture: about 1958
The Zuse Z 11 was the first programmable relay computer from ZUSE KG to go into series production. It was used for mathematical calculations, its hard-wired programs having been designed for surveying tasks in particular. The last in a development series of electro-mechanically controlled computer systems, it contained relays as binary switching elements. These may have been slower than vacuum tubes, but were also more reliable, more durable and less expensive. Date of manufacture: 1958
The Curta is the only mechanical pocket calculator that is capable of performing all four basic arithmetic operations. The inventor of this precision-engineered masterpiece was an Austrian, Curt Herzstark (1902-1988). Date of manufacture: about 1965
The Anita was the first all-electronic, tube-based desktop calculator. Not only was it completely silent, but it operated much faster than mechanical machines, and was maintenance-free too. However, tubes were not an optimum technical solution for desktop calculators as they used a lot of electricity, were relatively susceptible to breakage and were expensive to produce. For this reason, this technology remained unique to the Anita. Mass production of such devices only became an option once transistors started to be used from around 1964 onwards. Date of manufacture: 1961
The linotype machine was a “line casting” machine used in printing. It replaced the extremely time-consuming manual type-setting process. The machine, which was patented in 1886, mechanised the setting and casting of letters. The setter entered text at a keyboard: every time a key was pressed, a matrix of the chosen letter fell into position from a magazine. The assembled line of matrices was cast as a single piece of type metal and filled with liquid lead once the spaces between words had been automatically adjusted. After cooling, this produced “A LINE OF TYPES”. Date of manufacture: 1962
At the start of the 1950s, VEB Optima Büromaschinenwerk Erfurt was asked to develop a typewriter for China as part of e socialist initiative to support allied nations. The Erfurt manufacturers based their design on the box-type typewriter first sold in 1917 by Nippon Typewriter Co. Ltd. in Tokyo. The “Chinese Optima” made its début in 1953. Subsequently, the Chinese bicycle factory “Flying Dove” took over production of the device, two versions of which were produced in China under the “Flying Dove” brand until the end of 1992. Date of manufacture: 1992
This computer originated from the Gemini II mission; it featured in an unmanned space flight on 19.01.1965. The Mercury and Gemini space programmes laid the groundwork for the moon landing. From 1963 onwards, the Gemini missions tested orbital coupling manoeuvres necessary to achieve rendezvous and docking. Safe, accurate manoeuvring was only possible with the aid of a computer. IBM’s commission to develop the on-board computer was worth $26.6 million. It was the first computer to have a magnetic core memory so that data was not destroyed when read out. It was also IBM’s first computer to be fully transistorised. The computer proved reliable in operation. Date of manufacture: about 1964
In 1965, the Digital Equipment Corporation presented the PDP-8, thereby marking the beginning of the mini-computer era. Priced at just 18,200 Dollars, this general-purpose computer was robust enough to be used in both production and laboratory environments. Some 10,000 of them were sold within the space of 10 years; by 1975, the PDP-8 cost just 2,600 Dollars. A whole variety of manufacturers tapped into the new market, building computers based on the PDP-8 for use in process and manufacturing technology and for controlling experiments in research. By 1975, more than 30 companies in the West German market alone were selling mini-computers. Date of manufacture: 1965
In 1964, Nixdorf developed the electronics for a desk-top calculator produced by office equipment manufacturer Wanderer, later building the components itself under licence. The “Wanderer Conti” was presented to the public for the first time in 1965 at the Hanover Trade Fair. It was the world’s first fully electronic desk-top calculator with printing output. In terms of design, the four-species calculator was a bona fide computer, boasting an arithmetic unit, a magnetic core memory, a printer and a threaded read-only memory (ROM). The Conti enabled Nixdorf to gain a foothold in the US market when the Chicago-based Victor Comptometer Corporation placed an order worth DM 100 million for the machine in 1968. Date of manufacture: 1966
The Olivetti Valentine is a mechanical typewriter that stands out largely by virtue of its unconventional appearance. It is regarded as a milestone in industrial design and is a sought-after collector’s item. Date of manufacture: early 1970s
The great success enjoyed by Nixdorf at the end of the 1960s and start of the 1970s was based largely on the computers of the 820 series. These were universal computers for companies of all sizes and could be used for almost any application area thanks to their modular construction and consistent application of the modular design system. Date of manufacture: 1974
Canon Canola Pocketronic, Sanyo ICC-82D, Sharp EL-8: The first battery-operated electronic pocket calculators were brought out virtually simultaneously in 1970 by Japanese firms Sanyo, Sharp and Canon. However, the "heart" of these first pocket calculators – the microchip – was produced by US companies such as Texas Instruments and Rockwell. Texas Instruments had developed the first portable prototype as early as 1967. But the Cal-Tech, as it was known, was merely supposed to demonstrate the power of the new chip and never went into series production. The huge sales potential of the pocket calculator had yet to be recognised, especially since it was still too expensive to produce. It was for this reason that Texas Instruments sold the technical design of the Cal-Tech to Canon, and only brought out its own pocket calculator in 1972. Date of manufacture: 1970
The Odyssey console laid the foundations for the video game era. In 1966 Ralph Baer, a US engineer of German descent, filed a patent for a kind of ping-pong game. This was ultimately granted in 1968. It was not until 1972 that the game was distributed with a gaming console by Magnavox. Poor marketing meant that although the video game wasn’t a commercial flop, it wasn’t a resounding financial success either. Date of manufacture: 1972
The HP-35 was the world's first scientific pocket calculator. Before it came along, slide rules and logarithm tables were required for trigonometric and exponential functions. Pocket calculators were only capable of the four basic arithmetic operations. The price for an HP-35 in 1972 was about DM 2,000. Date of manufacture: 1972
In 1970, the photocopier company Xerox founded a research centre in Palo Alto known as PARC. This is where the Xerox Alto was developed, a forerunner of much of the PC technology taken for granted today. The Alto had a graphical user interface and a mouse, and was the model on which first the Macintosh, then Windows were based. It was also fully network-capable: the Ethernet was another Xerox PARC invention. Many Alto system engineers later worked on the Apple Macintosh. Only around 1,000 examples of the Alto were built; it was a prototype and was never launched on the market. Date of manufacture: 1973
The January 1975 issue of the magazine Popular Electronics featured the forerunner of the first personal computer, the Altair 8800, which had been designed by Ed Roberts and his company MITS. It was available as a kit for 397 US dollars, making it the first computer that ordinary consumers could afford and marking the advent of widespread PC use. Incidentally, the Altair's name comes from a TV series. The twelve-year-old daughter of editor Les Solomon said: “Call it Altair. That's where the Enterprise is heading tonight.“ Date of manufacture: 1975
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple on 1 April 1976. Soon afterwards, they presented their first computer: the Apple I. A total of only 200 Apple I computers were made. Jobs and Wozniak built it in Jobs's parents' garage in Los Altos, California and sold it for $666. The Apple I was actually just a circuit board. Users had to make their own housing for it and add input and output devices themselves. There are still around 70 Apple I computers in existence worldwide. Date of manufacture: 1976
The Apple II was the first “personal“ desktop computer to achieve commercial success. In contrast to the Apple I, the main board was supplied in a plastic housing together with a keyboard, a monitor and software.  The Apple Writer word processor and VisiCalc spreadsheet software were key to its success. The Apple II marked the start of Apple's rise to become the world's most successful company. Date of manufacture: 1977
The computer centre from the Sachsenwerk in Dresden is part of a system that was only shut down in 1993. It played a role in GDR computer history and a part in the success story of a major computer system. The Einheitliches System Elektronischer Rechenanlagen (standardized system of electronic computers) is the functional replica of an IBM computer: ESER 1055 is compatible with the 370/155 in terms of hardware and software alike. These computer systems were built until well into the 1980s. Date of manufacture: about 1979
Whenever computers were mentioned in the 1960s and 1970s, IBM was the name on everyone's lips. Despite this, the manufacturing giant was so slow to react that it almost missed out on the personal computer revolution, eventually launching its own PC 5150 in August 1981. The device proved an immediate hit, becoming an office mainstay. After all, it was a product of THE computer company, a fact which engendered trust among businesses that had not had any faith in the models available on the market thus far. The IBM PC, which ran with Microsoft's DOS operating system, provided the industry standard that had been lacking for so long. Date of manufacture: 1984
When Adam Osborne founded his computer firm, he was already well-known on the burgeoning home-computer scene thanks to numerous books and articles he had published. Although others before him had toyed with the idea of building a portable computer, his model, the Osborne 1, was the first on the market. Compared with today’s laptops, the Osborne 1 was extremely heavy and unwieldy. Despite this drawback, it proved a big success and almost became a cult object. Unfortunately, Osborne’s company went bankrupt in 1983. Date of manufacture: 1983
Commodore presented the C64 in 1982. Two years after its launch, four million units had already been sold, breaking all previous records for computer sales. Ultimately, a total of over 20 million C64 computers were sold throughout the world. The C64 was sometimes referred to as the “breadbox“ or even the “neck rest“ due to its shape. Date of manufacture: 1982
Motorola launched the first commercial mobile phone in 1983: the Dynatac 8000X. This bulky forebear of today's mobile phones weighed almost 750 grams and cost around $400. Date of manufacture: 1983
Apple launched the Macintosh on 24 January 1984. The Mac broke with all the previously accepted notions about PCs. When Jef Raskin, the father of the Mac, proposed the project in 1979, his idea was to design a computer that was geared to people. The Mac enabled normal users to become acquainted with the graphical user interface featuring desktop, mouse and windows. All they had to do beforehand was to unpack it and plug it in. Although the Mac lost out to the IBM PCs in the office environment, it revolutionised the entire graphic design industry. Date of manufacture: 1984
The Cray-2 was the fastest computer in the world in 1985. It weighed 2.5 tonnes. It was supplied as a supercomputer with up to four processors, a peak performance of 2 GFLOPS, 2 GB of memory and a maximum clock speed of 4.1 ns. It is notable for its striking design. A total of 27 units were sold. Date of manufacture: 1985
The Nintendo Game Boy proved to be one of the most successful products in the company’s history. The hand-held video game device was launched on the market in a plain grey-and-white version in 1989. Its robust technology, ease of operation and low battery consumption all helped to make it the biggest-selling console of the time. Although the Game Boy was initially only available with the game Tetris, strangely enough this became part of its appeal: it wasn’t just for hard-core players, but for everyone. The Game Boy was manufactured until 2002 and 120 million devices were sold in all. Date of manufacture: about 1990
The Newton was Apple’s attempt to create a revolutionary new device. A feature of the PDA (Private Digital Assistant) was handwriting recognition software; the device also came with a stylus which was supposed to make entering text child’s play. The touch-sensitive screen would detect characters and words automatically as they were written. However, this feature never really worked properly at market launch, something which gave rise to less than glowing reviews in the press. The project was halted in 1998 when company founder Steve Jobs re-joined the company. Date of manufacture: 1993
Robot soccer represents a major challenge for researchers in the field of artificial intelligence. A proving ground for the state of science in this field, it is also a means of promoting university-level education. Since 1997, international RoboCup matches featuring research teams from all over the world have been held in various leagues. This model – a third-generation, Middle Size League robot – belongs to the Fraunhofer Institut. Each robot has its own sensors and can make decisions completely autonomously. The robots can, however, communicate wirelessly with one another and with a computer. Date of manufacture: 1999
The robot dog AIBO was perhaps the most technically sophisticated toy ever to be created by its Japanese manufacturer Sony: the battery-operated dog came with 18 electrically controlled joints, microphones, loudspeakers, emotion display, 64-bit processor and a balance system to enable it to stand up. Date of manufacture: 1999
Lauron stands for “LAUfROboter Neuronal gesteuert” (English: “Walking Robot, Neural Controlled”). The walking robot (the 3rd generation of which is on show) was developed in order to research statically stable walking in rough terrain. Its movements are biologically inspired, mimicking those of a stick insect. Each leg can respond semi-autonomously to impulses; the movements are coordinated at a higher level. Lauron is able to gather information about its environment and plan a path towards a given goal autonomously. While walking, the robot uses sensors to detect potential obstacles and then either walks over or around them. Date of manufacture: 1999
Using a camera, this 2nd-generation face robot scans the viewer’s facial expression, which is then recognised and interpreted by software based on a neural net. From a repertoire of pre-programmed responses, the robot’s mechanism is activated and a matching facial expression is generated. The mechanical and electronic parts of the Mark II were covered by a silicone skin to create a robot face that looks as human as possible. Fumio Hara, Science University of Tokyo, Japan, 2001
RoboThespian is a life-sized humanoid robot designed for human interaction in public environments. It can sing as well as tell jokes and recite text passages. Visitors can choose from a selection of programmed text sequences for the metallic creation to read out, accompanied by a range of gestures. Date of manufacture: 2011
The earliest documents written on clay tablets in cuneiform script were used for tax and accounting purposes. Records were kept of the bread rations paid to workers, for example. The precise history is not known. About 2350-2100 BC
Wilhelm Schickard wanted to “mechanise” the laborious and error-prone task of calculating astronomical tables. In 1623 he had two calculating machines built to his specifications in a mechanic’s workshop in Tübingen – one for himself, the other for Johannes Kepler. The practical benefits of his “calculating clock” appeared somewhat dubious at the time, as the system based on logarithmic tables was superior. Regrettably, both machines were destroyed in a fire at the workshop and the invention was forgotten. This reconstruction of the machine by Baron von Freytag Löringhoff was completed in 1957. Date of manufacture: 1957
In 1678, French watchmaker René Grillet presented the “Machine arithmétique” which was capable of carrying out all four basic arithmetic operations. Constructed largely out of paper, the invention used so-called Napier’s rods that had been around since 1617 for the calculation process. It is an excellent example of the early days of mechanical calculation and an ancestor of today’s pocket calculator. Date of manufacture: 1678
This calculating machine, invented by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, was built in the years from 1690 to 1720. It represents a historic milestone in the development of mechanical calculating machines because it was the first to perform all four arithmetic operations. Leibniz's operating mechanism, known as the stepped cylinder or Leibniz wheel, allowed multiplication to be performed mechanically and remained an indispensable component of mechanical calculators for over 200 years. Functioning replica of the only remaining original (at the Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek in Hanover), built to plans by N. Joachim Lehmann. HNF replica: 1995
The device popularly known as the “Chess Turk“ was built in 1769 by Austrian court official Wolfgang von Kempelen in such a way as to convince spectators that they were watching an “automated chess player“. In fact an individual of quite normal size sat inside and controlled the gripper arm with the aid of levers and cable winches. Magnetised chess pieces and small magnetic pins on the underside of the board enabled the moves to be followed by the person within. Functional HNF replica: 2004
An Arithmometer is a mechanical calculating machine invented by the Frenchman Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar (1785-1870). It was the world's first calculating machine to go into series production. As well as addition and subtraction, it could perform multiplication and division by means of repeated addition and subtraction. This luxury version of the calculating machine was a gift to the king of Portugal. Date of manufacture: about 1855
The Hansen Writing Ball was the world's first typewriter to be produced commercially, albeit in small batches. It was developed in 1865 by Rasmus Johann Malling-Hansen, a Danish pastor and teacher of deaf-mutes. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a well-known user. Date of manufacture: about 1878
The name Morse and the code of the same name became synonymous with telegraphy. His procedure for transmitting text information via a series of pulses (dots and dashes) and the silences between them helped the technology achieve a breakthrough. The most important components of the Ericsson Morse Telegraph Type TA 100 for receiving messages (“sounder”) are an electromagnet, an armature, a mechanical clockwork to move the paper tape, a coloured stylus and a roll of paper. A Morse key is required to transmit messages. Date of manufacture: about 1880
In 1883, Englishman Joseph Edmondson obtained a patent for a circular calculating machine based on the stepped-drum mechanism. His design was based on Thomas de Colmar’s simple “arithmomètre”. The advantage of Edmondson’s machine was that it was not limited to a certain number of decimal places if a division produced a remainder. Date of manufacture: about 1885
This machine is a replica of the first Hollerith machine that was used so successfully to complete the first census in the USA thanks to the use of punched cards. It provided a much faster way of counting the vast amount of data gathered. The Hollerith machine consists of two hinged plates, a switch panel with relays, a counting device with 40 counters and a sorting box. When one of the pins on the plates meets a hole in the punched card, a circuit is completed and an electric pulse causes the pointer of a counter to advance accordingly. The respective compartment of the sorting box is also opened, and the operator can place the analysed punched card into it by hand. Functional HNF replica: 2006
The comptometer was the first exclusively key-driven mechanical calculator. The “wooden box” was a precursor to the full-keyboard adding machines built between 1886 and 1904. According to its manufacturer’s promotional material, it was the world’s first adding machine with a practical application. Date of manufacture: about 1900
The Underwood No. 5, which appeared in 1900, was the first classic modern typewriter (with visible text, upper- and lower-case letters and tab stops). It set the standard for all subsequent typewriters worldwide until they were superseded first by IBM electric typewriters, which used a type ball instead of type bars, and then by PCs. Date of manufacture: 1915
This extremely compact table-top telephone with a quirky design was also known as the “Pferdefuss” or “horse’s hoof” in Bavaria due to its shape. It was the approved standard dialling apparatus only in Bavaria. Incidentally, the device was referred to as the “cow’s hoof” in Prussia. Date of manufacture: from 1925 onwards
In 1879 the Ritty brothers filed a patent application for the first cash register in the USA. Businessman John H. Patterson acquired the rights to manufacture cash registers in 1884 and founded the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio. The NCR 400 series models were among the standard cash registers in use at the time. They were favoured by retail outlets because of their robust nature. Model 422 has five rows of keys and features 42 keys in all. The indicators are in English and show sums of pounds and pence. Date of manufacture: 1910
The Kryha Liliput is a very rare cipher machine in pocket-watch format. The machine consisted of two concentric rings, each featuring an alphabet and numbers. The user would operate it by pushing a lever to step the inner ring a random number of places against the outer ring, thereby changing the relationship between the two. Although Kryha’s devices were a commercial success, they were cryptographically weak as the period lengths of the codes were generally quite short. The Kryha Liliput was cryptographically compatible with its “big sister”, the Kryha Standard. Date of manufacture: about 1926
The legendary Enigma cipher machine was developed in the early 1920s by the German engineer Artur Scherbius in Berlin and initially marketed for commercial purposes. The machine has three rotors, each of which performs an alphabetic substitution cipher. By combining the rotors in series and using a plugboard with variable wiring, very complex scrambling of the message can be achieved. Date of manufacture: about 1942
The T52 e was a World War II German cipher machine and teleprinter. Due to its size and weight, however, it was only ever used as a stationary device. Unlike the Enigma, messages were encrypted and deciphered automatically. On 20 July 1944, the resistance group led by Claus von Stauffenberg used the device to issue encrypted commands for Operation Valkyrie, the plot to assassinate Hitler. Date of manufacture: 1942
The first functioning electronic computer consisted of 40 panels with almost 18,000 vacuum tubes. J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly were commissioned to construct a vacuum-tube computer by the US Army in 1943. ENIAC, which was 1,000 times faster than other calculating machines, was developed by the young scientists at the Moore School of Electronics in Philadelphia. It required just eight hours to perform calculations that had previously taken an entire year. The high processing capacity was needed by the US Army to calculate artillery firing tables. Mauchly wanted to use ENIAC’s speed to produce more accurate weather forecasts, which is why its inventors built a “universal machine“. Date of manufacture: 1946
The history of IBM in Germany dates back to 1910, with the founding of DEHOMAG (Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH) in Berlin. The company was renamed IBM Deutschland GmbH in 1949, when it relocated to Böblingen. The D 11 tabulator, which was manufactured from 1935 onwards, was the first German machine of its kind. Used for punched card analysis, its ability to read, count, compute and print cards made it the mainstay of many so-called Hollerith departments. The machine proved a milestone in the development of punched card technology: It was on sale until 1960, latterly as the IBM D11 Type 450. Around 1,100 D 11 models were sold in all. Date of manufacture: between 1949 and 1960
In the early days of telephony, calls were connected manually by a switchboard operator . The next stage of development saw the introduction of automatic telephone exchanges which dispensed with the need for human intervention. A local telephone exchange establishes connections between the subscribers of a local network. In this case, an analogue electrical signal is switched via electromechanical components. If the first digit dialled by the subscriber is a zero, he or she is put through to the trunk or long-distance exchange. The electromechanical system exhibited here was in use in Hagen-Eilpe until 1994, when it was replaced by a digital switching system.
The W48 desktop telephone was developed for the Deutsche Bundespost by Siemens & Halske in 1948 in the western zone of occupied Germany and produced in very large quantities. Date of manufacture: 1954
This is the first computer developed by Heinz Nixdorf. He started work in July 1952 and it took him 15 months to complete. The electronic balancer is equipped with vacuum tubes. It is a one-off machine built especially for materials management at Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), where it supplemented the work of a Remington Rand tabulating machine, whose mechanical mode of operation was no match for the much faster Nixdorf electronics. Date of manufacture: 1953
The accounting machine Exacta-Continental 6000 was the ultimate in electromechanical office equipment: it could manage all accounting tasks with ease. It came with an optional Multitronic electronic multiplication unit manufactured by Heinz Nixdorf’s Labor für Impulstechnik, which signalled the beginning of a new data processing era from 1958 onwards. Date of manufacture: about 1958
The Zuse Z 11 was the first programmable relay computer from ZUSE KG to go into series production. It was used for mathematical calculations, its hard-wired programs having been designed for surveying tasks in particular. The last in a development series of electro-mechanically controlled computer systems, it contained relays as binary switching elements. These may have been slower than vacuum tubes, but were also more reliable, more durable and less expensive. Date of manufacture: 1958
The Curta is the only mechanical pocket calculator that is capable of performing all four basic arithmetic operations. The inventor of this precision-engineered masterpiece was an Austrian, Curt Herzstark (1902-1988). Date of manufacture: about 1965
The Anita was the first all-electronic, tube-based desktop calculator. Not only was it completely silent, but it operated much faster than mechanical machines, and was maintenance-free too. However, tubes were not an optimum technical solution for desktop calculators as they used a lot of electricity, were relatively susceptible to breakage and were expensive to produce. For this reason, this technology remained unique to the Anita. Mass production of such devices only became an option once transistors started to be used from around 1964 onwards. Date of manufacture: 1961
The linotype machine was a “line casting” machine used in printing. It replaced the extremely time-consuming manual type-setting process. The machine, which was patented in 1886, mechanised the setting and casting of letters. The setter entered text at a keyboard: every time a key was pressed, a matrix of the chosen letter fell into position from a magazine. The assembled line of matrices was cast as a single piece of type metal and filled with liquid lead once the spaces between words had been automatically adjusted. After cooling, this produced “A LINE OF TYPES”. Date of manufacture: 1962
At the start of the 1950s, VEB Optima Büromaschinenwerk Erfurt was asked to develop a typewriter for China as part of e socialist initiative to support allied nations. The Erfurt manufacturers based their design on the box-type typewriter first sold in 1917 by Nippon Typewriter Co. Ltd. in Tokyo. The “Chinese Optima” made its début in 1953. Subsequently, the Chinese bicycle factory “Flying Dove” took over production of the device, two versions of which were produced in China under the “Flying Dove” brand until the end of 1992. Date of manufacture: 1992
This computer originated from the Gemini II mission; it featured in an unmanned space flight on 19.01.1965. The Mercury and Gemini space programmes laid the groundwork for the moon landing. From 1963 onwards, the Gemini missions tested orbital coupling manoeuvres necessary to achieve rendezvous and docking. Safe, accurate manoeuvring was only possible with the aid of a computer. IBM’s commission to develop the on-board computer was worth $26.6 million. It was the first computer to have a magnetic core memory so that data was not destroyed when read out. It was also IBM’s first computer to be fully transistorised. The computer proved reliable in operation. Date of manufacture: about 1964
In 1965, the Digital Equipment Corporation presented the PDP-8, thereby marking the beginning of the mini-computer era. Priced at just 18,200 Dollars, this general-purpose computer was robust enough to be used in both production and laboratory environments. Some 10,000 of them were sold within the space of 10 years; by 1975, the PDP-8 cost just 2,600 Dollars. A whole variety of manufacturers tapped into the new market, building computers based on the PDP-8 for use in process and manufacturing technology and for controlling experiments in research. By 1975, more than 30 companies in the West German market alone were selling mini-computers. Date of manufacture: 1965
In 1964, Nixdorf developed the electronics for a desk-top calculator produced by office equipment manufacturer Wanderer, later building the components itself under licence. The “Wanderer Conti” was presented to the public for the first time in 1965 at the Hanover Trade Fair. It was the world’s first fully electronic desk-top calculator with printing output. In terms of design, the four-species calculator was a bona fide computer, boasting an arithmetic unit, a magnetic core memory, a printer and a threaded read-only memory (ROM). The Conti enabled Nixdorf to gain a foothold in the US market when the Chicago-based Victor Comptometer Corporation placed an order worth DM 100 million for the machine in 1968. Date of manufacture: 1966
The Olivetti Valentine is a mechanical typewriter that stands out largely by virtue of its unconventional appearance. It is regarded as a milestone in industrial design and is a sought-after collector’s item. Date of manufacture: early 1970s
The great success enjoyed by Nixdorf at the end of the 1960s and start of the 1970s was based largely on the computers of the 820 series. These were universal computers for companies of all sizes and could be used for almost any application area thanks to their modular construction and consistent application of the modular design system. Date of manufacture: 1974
Canon Canola Pocketronic, Sanyo ICC-82D, Sharp EL-8: The first battery-operated electronic pocket calculators were brought out virtually simultaneously in 1970 by Japanese firms Sanyo, Sharp and Canon. However, the "heart" of these first pocket calculators – the microchip – was produced by US companies such as Texas Instruments and Rockwell. Texas Instruments had developed the first portable prototype as early as 1967. But the Cal-Tech, as it was known, was merely supposed to demonstrate the power of the new chip and never went into series production. The huge sales potential of the pocket calculator had yet to be recognised, especially since it was still too expensive to produce. It was for this reason that Texas Instruments sold the technical design of the Cal-Tech to Canon, and only brought out its own pocket calculator in 1972. Date of manufacture: 1970
The Odyssey console laid the foundations for the video game era. In 1966 Ralph Baer, a US engineer of German descent, filed a patent for a kind of ping-pong game. This was ultimately granted in 1968. It was not until 1972 that the game was distributed with a gaming console by Magnavox. Poor marketing meant that although the video game wasn’t a commercial flop, it wasn’t a resounding financial success either. Date of manufacture: 1972
The HP-35 was the world's first scientific pocket calculator. Before it came along, slide rules and logarithm tables were required for trigonometric and exponential functions. Pocket calculators were only capable of the four basic arithmetic operations. The price for an HP-35 in 1972 was about DM 2,000. Date of manufacture: 1972
In 1970, the photocopier company Xerox founded a research centre in Palo Alto known as PARC. This is where the Xerox Alto was developed, a forerunner of much of the PC technology taken for granted today. The Alto had a graphical user interface and a mouse, and was the model on which first the Macintosh, then Windows were based. It was also fully network-capable: the Ethernet was another Xerox PARC invention. Many Alto system engineers later worked on the Apple Macintosh. Only around 1,000 examples of the Alto were built; it was a prototype and was never launched on the market. Date of manufacture: 1973
The January 1975 issue of the magazine Popular Electronics featured the forerunner of the first personal computer, the Altair 8800, which had been designed by Ed Roberts and his company MITS. It was available as a kit for 397 US dollars, making it the first computer that ordinary consumers could afford and marking the advent of widespread PC use. Incidentally, the Altair's name comes from a TV series. The twelve-year-old daughter of editor Les Solomon said: “Call it Altair. That's where the Enterprise is heading tonight.“ Date of manufacture: 1975
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple on 1 April 1976. Soon afterwards, they presented their first computer: the Apple I. A total of only 200 Apple I computers were made. Jobs and Wozniak built it in Jobs's parents' garage in Los Altos, California and sold it for $666. The Apple I was actually just a circuit board. Users had to make their own housing for it and add input and output devices themselves. There are still around 70 Apple I computers in existence worldwide. Date of manufacture: 1976
The Apple II was the first “personal“ desktop computer to achieve commercial success. In contrast to the Apple I, the main board was supplied in a plastic housing together with a keyboard, a monitor and software.  The Apple Writer word processor and VisiCalc spreadsheet software were key to its success. The Apple II marked the start of Apple's rise to become the world's most successful company. Date of manufacture: 1977
The computer centre from the Sachsenwerk in Dresden is part of a system that was only shut down in 1993. It played a role in GDR computer history and a part in the success story of a major computer system. The Einheitliches System Elektronischer Rechenanlagen (standardized system of electronic computers) is the functional replica of an IBM computer: ESER 1055 is compatible with the 370/155 in terms of hardware and software alike. These computer systems were built until well into the 1980s. Date of manufacture: about 1979
Whenever computers were mentioned in the 1960s and 1970s, IBM was the name on everyone's lips. Despite this, the manufacturing giant was so slow to react that it almost missed out on the personal computer revolution, eventually launching its own PC 5150 in August 1981. The device proved an immediate hit, becoming an office mainstay. After all, it was a product of THE computer company, a fact which engendered trust among businesses that had not had any faith in the models available on the market thus far. The IBM PC, which ran with Microsoft's DOS operating system, provided the industry standard that had been lacking for so long. Date of manufacture: 1984
When Adam Osborne founded his computer firm, he was already well-known on the burgeoning home-computer scene thanks to numerous books and articles he had published. Although others before him had toyed with the idea of building a portable computer, his model, the Osborne 1, was the first on the market. Compared with today’s laptops, the Osborne 1 was extremely heavy and unwieldy. Despite this drawback, it proved a big success and almost became a cult object. Unfortunately, Osborne’s company went bankrupt in 1983. Date of manufacture: 1983
Commodore presented the C64 in 1982. Two years after its launch, four million units had already been sold, breaking all previous records for computer sales. Ultimately, a total of over 20 million C64 computers were sold throughout the world. The C64 was sometimes referred to as the “breadbox“ or even the “neck rest“ due to its shape. Date of manufacture: 1982
Motorola launched the first commercial mobile phone in 1983: the Dynatac 8000X. This bulky forebear of today's mobile phones weighed almost 750 grams and cost around $400. Date of manufacture: 1983
Apple launched the Macintosh on 24 January 1984. The Mac broke with all the previously accepted notions about PCs. When Jef Raskin, the father of the Mac, proposed the project in 1979, his idea was to design a computer that was geared to people. The Mac enabled normal users to become acquainted with the graphical user interface featuring desktop, mouse and windows. All they had to do beforehand was to unpack it and plug it in. Although the Mac lost out to the IBM PCs in the office environment, it revolutionised the entire graphic design industry. Date of manufacture: 1984
The Cray-2 was the fastest computer in the world in 1985. It weighed 2.5 tonnes. It was supplied as a supercomputer with up to four processors, a peak performance of 2 GFLOPS, 2 GB of memory and a maximum clock speed of 4.1 ns. It is notable for its striking design. A total of 27 units were sold. Date of manufacture: 1985
The Nintendo Game Boy proved to be one of the most successful products in the company’s history. The hand-held video game device was launched on the market in a plain grey-and-white version in 1989. Its robust technology, ease of operation and low battery consumption all helped to make it the biggest-selling console of the time. Although the Game Boy was initially only available with the game Tetris, strangely enough this became part of its appeal: it wasn’t just for hard-core players, but for everyone. The Game Boy was manufactured until 2002 and 120 million devices were sold in all. Date of manufacture: about 1990
The Newton was Apple’s attempt to create a revolutionary new device. A feature of the PDA (Private Digital Assistant) was handwriting recognition software; the device also came with a stylus which was supposed to make entering text child’s play. The touch-sensitive screen would detect characters and words automatically as they were written. However, this feature never really worked properly at market launch, something which gave rise to less than glowing reviews in the press. The project was halted in 1998 when company founder Steve Jobs re-joined the company. Date of manufacture: 1993
Robot soccer represents a major challenge for researchers in the field of artificial intelligence. A proving ground for the state of science in this field, it is also a means of promoting university-level education. Since 1997, international RoboCup matches featuring research teams from all over the world have been held in various leagues. This model – a third-generation, Middle Size League robot – belongs to the Fraunhofer Institut. Each robot has its own sensors and can make decisions completely autonomously. The robots can, however, communicate wirelessly with one another and with a computer. Date of manufacture: 1999
The robot dog AIBO was perhaps the most technically sophisticated toy ever to be created by its Japanese manufacturer Sony: the battery-operated dog came with 18 electrically controlled joints, microphones, loudspeakers, emotion display, 64-bit processor and a balance system to enable it to stand up. Date of manufacture: 1999
Lauron stands for “LAUfROboter Neuronal gesteuert” (English: “Walking Robot, Neural Controlled”). The walking robot (the 3rd generation of which is on show) was developed in order to research statically stable walking in rough terrain. Its movements are biologically inspired, mimicking those of a stick insect. Each leg can respond semi-autonomously to impulses; the movements are coordinated at a higher level. Lauron is able to gather information about its environment and plan a path towards a given goal autonomously. While walking, the robot uses sensors to detect potential obstacles and then either walks over or around them. Date of manufacture: 1999
Using a camera, this 2nd-generation face robot scans the viewer’s facial expression, which is then recognised and interpreted by software based on a neural net. From a repertoire of pre-programmed responses, the robot’s mechanism is activated and a matching facial expression is generated. The mechanical and electronic parts of the Mark II were covered by a silicone skin to create a robot face that looks as human as possible. Fumio Hara, Science University of Tokyo, Japan, 2001
RoboThespian is a life-sized humanoid robot designed for human interaction in public environments. It can sing as well as tell jokes and recite text passages. Visitors can choose from a selection of programmed text sequences for the metallic creation to read out, accompanied by a range of gestures. Date of manufacture: 2011
The earliest documents written on clay tablets in cuneiform script were used for tax and accounting purposes. Records were kept of the bread rations paid to workers, for example. The precise history is not known. About 2350-2100 BC
Wilhelm Schickard wanted to “mechanise” the laborious and error-prone task of calculating astronomical tables. In 1623 he had two calculating machines built to his specifications in a mechanic’s workshop in Tübingen – one for himself, the other for Johannes Kepler. The practical benefits of his “calculating clock” appeared somewhat dubious at the time, as the system based on logarithmic tables was superior. Regrettably, both machines were destroyed in a fire at the workshop and the invention was forgotten. This reconstruction of the machine by Baron von Freytag Löringhoff was completed in 1957. Date of manufacture: 1957
In 1678, French watchmaker René Grillet presented the “Machine arithmétique” which was capable of carrying out all four basic arithmetic operations. Constructed largely out of paper, the invention used so-called Napier’s rods that had been around since 1617 for the calculation process. It is an excellent example of the early days of mechanical calculation and an ancestor of today’s pocket calculator. Date of manufacture: 1678
This calculating machine, invented by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, was built in the years from 1690 to 1720. It represents a historic milestone in the development of mechanical calculating machines because it was the first to perform all four arithmetic operations. Leibniz's operating mechanism, known as the stepped cylinder or Leibniz wheel, allowed multiplication to be performed mechanically and remained an indispensable component of mechanical calculators for over 200 years. Functioning replica of the only remaining original (at the Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek in Hanover), built to plans by N. Joachim Lehmann. HNF replica: 1995
The device popularly known as the “Chess Turk“ was built in 1769 by Austrian court official Wolfgang von Kempelen in such a way as to convince spectators that they were watching an “automated chess player“. In fact an individual of quite normal size sat inside and controlled the gripper arm with the aid of levers and cable winches. Magnetised chess pieces and small magnetic pins on the underside of the board enabled the moves to be followed by the person within. Functional HNF replica: 2004
An Arithmometer is a mechanical calculating machine invented by the Frenchman Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar (1785-1870). It was the world's first calculating machine to go into series production. As well as addition and subtraction, it could perform multiplication and division by means of repeated addition and subtraction. This luxury version of the calculating machine was a gift to the king of Portugal. Date of manufacture: about 1855
The Hansen Writing Ball was the world's first typewriter to be produced commercially, albeit in small batches. It was developed in 1865 by Rasmus Johann Malling-Hansen, a Danish pastor and teacher of deaf-mutes. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a well-known user. Date of manufacture: about 1878
The name Morse and the code of the same name became synonymous with telegraphy. His procedure for transmitting text information via a series of pulses (dots and dashes) and the silences between them helped the technology achieve a breakthrough. The most important components of the Ericsson Morse Telegraph Type TA 100 for receiving messages (“sounder”) are an electromagnet, an armature, a mechanical clockwork to move the paper tape, a coloured stylus and a roll of paper. A Morse key is required to transmit messages. Date of manufacture: about 1880
In 1883, Englishman Joseph Edmondson obtained a patent for a circular calculating machine based on the stepped-drum mechanism. His design was based on Thomas de Colmar’s simple “arithmomètre”. The advantage of Edmondson’s machine was that it was not limited to a certain number of decimal places if a division produced a remainder. Date of manufacture: about 1885
This machine is a replica of the first Hollerith machine that was used so successfully to complete the first census in the USA thanks to the use of punched cards. It provided a much faster way of counting the vast amount of data gathered. The Hollerith machine consists of two hinged plates, a switch panel with relays, a counting device with 40 counters and a sorting box. When one of the pins on the plates meets a hole in the punched card, a circuit is completed and an electric pulse causes the pointer of a counter to advance accordingly. The respective compartment of the sorting box is also opened, and the operator can place the analysed punched card into it by hand. Functional HNF replica: 2006
The comptometer was the first exclusively key-driven mechanical calculator. The “wooden box” was a precursor to the full-keyboard adding machines built between 1886 and 1904. According to its manufacturer’s promotional material, it was the world’s first adding machine with a practical application. Date of manufacture: about 1900
The Underwood No. 5, which appeared in 1900, was the first classic modern typewriter (with visible text, upper- and lower-case letters and tab stops). It set the standard for all subsequent typewriters worldwide until they were superseded first by IBM electric typewriters, which used a type ball instead of type bars, and then by PCs. Date of manufacture: 1915
This extremely compact table-top telephone with a quirky design was also known as the “Pferdefuss” or “horse’s hoof” in Bavaria due to its shape. It was the approved standard dialling apparatus only in Bavaria. Incidentally, the device was referred to as the “cow’s hoof” in Prussia. Date of manufacture: from 1925 onwards
In 1879 the Ritty brothers filed a patent application for the first cash register in the USA. Businessman John H. Patterson acquired the rights to manufacture cash registers in 1884 and founded the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio. The NCR 400 series models were among the standard cash registers in use at the time. They were favoured by retail outlets because of their robust nature. Model 422 has five rows of keys and features 42 keys in all. The indicators are in English and show sums of pounds and pence. Date of manufacture: 1910
The Kryha Liliput is a very rare cipher machine in pocket-watch format. The machine consisted of two concentric rings, each featuring an alphabet and numbers. The user would operate it by pushing a lever to step the inner ring a random number of places against the outer ring, thereby changing the relationship between the two. Although Kryha’s devices were a commercial success, they were cryptographically weak as the period lengths of the codes were generally quite short. The Kryha Liliput was cryptographically compatible with its “big sister”, the Kryha Standard. Date of manufacture: about 1926
The legendary Enigma cipher machine was developed in the early 1920s by the German engineer Artur Scherbius in Berlin and initially marketed for commercial purposes. The machine has three rotors, each of which performs an alphabetic substitution cipher. By combining the rotors in series and using a plugboard with variable wiring, very complex scrambling of the message can be achieved. Date of manufacture: about 1942
The T52 e was a World War II German cipher machine and teleprinter. Due to its size and weight, however, it was only ever used as a stationary device. Unlike the Enigma, messages were encrypted and deciphered automatically. On 20 July 1944, the resistance group led by Claus von Stauffenberg used the device to issue encrypted commands for Operation Valkyrie, the plot to assassinate Hitler. Date of manufacture: 1942
The first functioning electronic computer consisted of 40 panels with almost 18,000 vacuum tubes. J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly were commissioned to construct a vacuum-tube computer by the US Army in 1943. ENIAC, which was 1,000 times faster than other calculating machines, was developed by the young scientists at the Moore School of Electronics in Philadelphia. It required just eight hours to perform calculations that had previously taken an entire year. The high processing capacity was needed by the US Army to calculate artillery firing tables. Mauchly wanted to use ENIAC’s speed to produce more accurate weather forecasts, which is why its inventors built a “universal machine“. Date of manufacture: 1946
The history of IBM in Germany dates back to 1910, with the founding of DEHOMAG (Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH) in Berlin. The company was renamed IBM Deutschland GmbH in 1949, when it relocated to Böblingen. The D 11 tabulator, which was manufactured from 1935 onwards, was the first German machine of its kind. Used for punched card analysis, its ability to read, count, compute and print cards made it the mainstay of many so-called Hollerith departments. The machine proved a milestone in the development of punched card technology: It was on sale until 1960, latterly as the IBM D11 Type 450. Around 1,100 D 11 models were sold in all. Date of manufacture: between 1949 and 1960
In the early days of telephony, calls were connected manually by a switchboard operator . The next stage of development saw the introduction of automatic telephone exchanges which dispensed with the need for human intervention. A local telephone exchange establishes connections between the subscribers of a local network. In this case, an analogue electrical signal is switched via electromechanical components. If the first digit dialled by the subscriber is a zero, he or she is put through to the trunk or long-distance exchange. The electromechanical system exhibited here was in use in Hagen-Eilpe until 1994, when it was replaced by a digital switching system.
The W48 desktop telephone was developed for the Deutsche Bundespost by Siemens & Halske in 1948 in the western zone of occupied Germany and produced in very large quantities. Date of manufacture: 1954
This is the first computer developed by Heinz Nixdorf. He started work in July 1952 and it took him 15 months to complete. The electronic balancer is equipped with vacuum tubes. It is a one-off machine built especially for materials management at Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), where it supplemented the work of a Remington Rand tabulating machine, whose mechanical mode of operation was no match for the much faster Nixdorf electronics. Date of manufacture: 1953
The accounting machine Exacta-Continental 6000 was the ultimate in electromechanical office equipment: it could manage all accounting tasks with ease. It came with an optional Multitronic electronic multiplication unit manufactured by Heinz Nixdorf’s Labor für Impulstechnik, which signalled the beginning of a new data processing era from 1958 onwards. Date of manufacture: about 1958
The Zuse Z 11 was the first programmable relay computer from ZUSE KG to go into series production. It was used for mathematical calculations, its hard-wired programs having been designed for surveying tasks in particular. The last in a development series of electro-mechanically controlled computer systems, it contained relays as binary switching elements. These may have been slower than vacuum tubes, but were also more reliable, more durable and less expensive. Date of manufacture: 1958
The Curta is the only mechanical pocket calculator that is capable of performing all four basic arithmetic operations. The inventor of this precision-engineered masterpiece was an Austrian, Curt Herzstark (1902-1988). Date of manufacture: about 1965
The Anita was the first all-electronic, tube-based desktop calculator. Not only was it completely silent, but it operated much faster than mechanical machines, and was maintenance-free too. However, tubes were not an optimum technical solution for desktop calculators as they used a lot of electricity, were relatively susceptible to breakage and were expensive to produce. For this reason, this technology remained unique to the Anita. Mass production of such devices only became an option once transistors started to be used from around 1964 onwards. Date of manufacture: 1961
The linotype machine was a “line casting” machine used in printing. It replaced the extremely time-consuming manual type-setting process. The machine, which was patented in 1886, mechanised the setting and casting of letters. The setter entered text at a keyboard: every time a key was pressed, a matrix of the chosen letter fell into position from a magazine. The assembled line of matrices was cast as a single piece of type metal and filled with liquid lead once the spaces between words had been automatically adjusted. After cooling, this produced “A LINE OF TYPES”. Date of manufacture: 1962
At the start of the 1950s, VEB Optima Büromaschinenwerk Erfurt was asked to develop a typewriter for China as part of e socialist initiative to support allied nations. The Erfurt manufacturers based their design on the box-type typewriter first sold in 1917 by Nippon Typewriter Co. Ltd. in Tokyo. The “Chinese Optima” made its début in 1953. Subsequently, the Chinese bicycle factory “Flying Dove” took over production of the device, two versions of which were produced in China under the “Flying Dove” brand until the end of 1992. Date of manufacture: 1992
This computer originated from the Gemini II mission; it featured in an unmanned space flight on 19.01.1965. The Mercury and Gemini space programmes laid the groundwork for the moon landing. From 1963 onwards, the Gemini missions tested orbital coupling manoeuvres necessary to achieve rendezvous and docking. Safe, accurate manoeuvring was only possible with the aid of a computer. IBM’s commission to develop the on-board computer was worth $26.6 million. It was the first computer to have a magnetic core memory so that data was not destroyed when read out. It was also IBM’s first computer to be fully transistorised. The computer proved reliable in operation. Date of manufacture: about 1964
In 1965, the Digital Equipment Corporation presented the PDP-8, thereby marking the beginning of the mini-computer era. Priced at just 18,200 Dollars, this general-purpose computer was robust enough to be used in both production and laboratory environments. Some 10,000 of them were sold within the space of 10 years; by 1975, the PDP-8 cost just 2,600 Dollars. A whole variety of manufacturers tapped into the new market, building computers based on the PDP-8 for use in process and manufacturing technology and for controlling experiments in research. By 1975, more than 30 companies in the West German market alone were selling mini-computers. Date of manufacture: 1965
In 1964, Nixdorf developed the electronics for a desk-top calculator produced by office equipment manufacturer Wanderer, later building the components itself under licence. The “Wanderer Conti” was presented to the public for the first time in 1965 at the Hanover Trade Fair. It was the world’s first fully electronic desk-top calculator with printing output. In terms of design, the four-species calculator was a bona fide computer, boasting an arithmetic unit, a magnetic core memory, a printer and a threaded read-only memory (ROM). The Conti enabled Nixdorf to gain a foothold in the US market when the Chicago-based Victor Comptometer Corporation placed an order worth DM 100 million for the machine in 1968. Date of manufacture: 1966
The Olivetti Valentine is a mechanical typewriter that stands out largely by virtue of its unconventional appearance. It is regarded as a milestone in industrial design and is a sought-after collector’s item. Date of manufacture: early 1970s
The great success enjoyed by Nixdorf at the end of the 1960s and start of the 1970s was based largely on the computers of the 820 series. These were universal computers for companies of all sizes and could be used for almost any application area thanks to their modular construction and consistent application of the modular design system. Date of manufacture: 1974
Canon Canola Pocketronic, Sanyo ICC-82D, Sharp EL-8: The first battery-operated electronic pocket calculators were brought out virtually simultaneously in 1970 by Japanese firms Sanyo, Sharp and Canon. However, the "heart" of these first pocket calculators – the microchip – was produced by US companies such as Texas Instruments and Rockwell. Texas Instruments had developed the first portable prototype as early as 1967. But the Cal-Tech, as it was known, was merely supposed to demonstrate the power of the new chip and never went into series production. The huge sales potential of the pocket calculator had yet to be recognised, especially since it was still too expensive to produce. It was for this reason that Texas Instruments sold the technical design of the Cal-Tech to Canon, and only brought out its own pocket calculator in 1972. Date of manufacture: 1970
The Odyssey console laid the foundations for the video game era. In 1966 Ralph Baer, a US engineer of German descent, filed a patent for a kind of ping-pong game. This was ultimately granted in 1968. It was not until 1972 that the game was distributed with a gaming console by Magnavox. Poor marketing meant that although the video game wasn’t a commercial flop, it wasn’t a resounding financial success either. Date of manufacture: 1972
The HP-35 was the world's first scientific pocket calculator. Before it came along, slide rules and logarithm tables were required for trigonometric and exponential functions. Pocket calculators were only capable of the four basic arithmetic operations. The price for an HP-35 in 1972 was about DM 2,000. Date of manufacture: 1972
In 1970, the photocopier company Xerox founded a research centre in Palo Alto known as PARC. This is where the Xerox Alto was developed, a forerunner of much of the PC technology taken for granted today. The Alto had a graphical user interface and a mouse, and was the model on which first the Macintosh, then Windows were based. It was also fully network-capable: the Ethernet was another Xerox PARC invention. Many Alto system engineers later worked on the Apple Macintosh. Only around 1,000 examples of the Alto were built; it was a prototype and was never launched on the market. Date of manufacture: 1973
The January 1975 issue of the magazine Popular Electronics featured the forerunner of the first personal computer, the Altair 8800, which had been designed by Ed Roberts and his company MITS. It was available as a kit for 397 US dollars, making it the first computer that ordinary consumers could afford and marking the advent of widespread PC use. Incidentally, the Altair's name comes from a TV series. The twelve-year-old daughter of editor Les Solomon said: “Call it Altair. That's where the Enterprise is heading tonight.“ Date of manufacture: 1975
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple on 1 April 1976. Soon afterwards, they presented their first computer: the Apple I. A total of only 200 Apple I computers were made. Jobs and Wozniak built it in Jobs's parents' garage in Los Altos, California and sold it for $666. The Apple I was actually just a circuit board. Users had to make their own housing for it and add input and output devices themselves. There are still around 70 Apple I computers in existence worldwide. Date of manufacture: 1976
The Apple II was the first “personal“ desktop computer to achieve commercial success. In contrast to the Apple I, the main board was supplied in a plastic housing together with a keyboard, a monitor and software.  The Apple Writer word processor and VisiCalc spreadsheet software were key to its success. The Apple II marked the start of Apple's rise to become the world's most successful company. Date of manufacture: 1977
The computer centre from the Sachsenwerk in Dresden is part of a system that was only shut down in 1993. It played a role in GDR computer history and a part in the success story of a major computer system. The Einheitliches System Elektronischer Rechenanlagen (standardized system of electronic computers) is the functional replica of an IBM computer: ESER 1055 is compatible with the 370/155 in terms of hardware and software alike. These computer systems were built until well into the 1980s. Date of manufacture: about 1979
Whenever computers were mentioned in the 1960s and 1970s, IBM was the name on everyone's lips. Despite this, the manufacturing giant was so slow to react that it almost missed out on the personal computer revolution, eventually launching its own PC 5150 in August 1981. The device proved an immediate hit, becoming an office mainstay. After all, it was a product of THE computer company, a fact which engendered trust among businesses that had not had any faith in the models available on the market thus far. The IBM PC, which ran with Microsoft's DOS operating system, provided the industry standard that had been lacking for so long. Date of manufacture: 1984
When Adam Osborne founded his computer firm, he was already well-known on the burgeoning home-computer scene thanks to numerous books and articles he had published. Although others before him had toyed with the idea of building a portable computer, his model, the Osborne 1, was the first on the market. Compared with today’s laptops, the Osborne 1 was extremely heavy and unwieldy. Despite this drawback, it proved a big success and almost became a cult object. Unfortunately, Osborne’s company went bankrupt in 1983. Date of manufacture: 1983
Commodore presented the C64 in 1982. Two years after its launch, four million units had already been sold, breaking all previous records for computer sales. Ultimately, a total of over 20 million C64 computers were sold throughout the world. The C64 was sometimes referred to as the “breadbox“ or even the “neck rest“ due to its shape. Date of manufacture: 1982
Motorola launched the first commercial mobile phone in 1983: the Dynatac 8000X. This bulky forebear of today's mobile phones weighed almost 750 grams and cost around $400. Date of manufacture: 1983
Apple launched the Macintosh on 24 January 1984. The Mac broke with all the previously accepted notions about PCs. When Jef Raskin, the father of the Mac, proposed the project in 1979, his idea was to design a computer that was geared to people. The Mac enabled normal users to become acquainted with the graphical user interface featuring desktop, mouse and windows. All they had to do beforehand was to unpack it and plug it in. Although the Mac lost out to the IBM PCs in the office environment, it revolutionised the entire graphic design industry. Date of manufacture: 1984
The Cray-2 was the fastest computer in the world in 1985. It weighed 2.5 tonnes. It was supplied as a supercomputer with up to four processors, a peak performance of 2 GFLOPS, 2 GB of memory and a maximum clock speed of 4.1 ns. It is notable for its striking design. A total of 27 units were sold. Date of manufacture: 1985
The Nintendo Game Boy proved to be one of the most successful products in the company’s history. The hand-held video game device was launched on the market in a plain grey-and-white version in 1989. Its robust technology, ease of operation and low battery consumption all helped to make it the biggest-selling console of the time. Although the Game Boy was initially only available with the game Tetris, strangely enough this became part of its appeal: it wasn’t just for hard-core players, but for everyone. The Game Boy was manufactured until 2002 and 120 million devices were sold in all. Date of manufacture: about 1990
The Newton was Apple’s attempt to create a revolutionary new device. A feature of the PDA (Private Digital Assistant) was handwriting recognition software; the device also came with a stylus which was supposed to make entering text child’s play. The touch-sensitive screen would detect characters and words automatically as they were written. However, this feature never really worked properly at market launch, something which gave rise to less than glowing reviews in the press. The project was halted in 1998 when company founder Steve Jobs re-joined the company. Date of manufacture: 1993
Robot soccer represents a major challenge for researchers in the field of artificial intelligence. A proving ground for the state of science in this field, it is also a means of promoting university-level education. Since 1997, international RoboCup matches featuring research teams from all over the world have been held in various leagues. This model – a third-generation, Middle Size League robot – belongs to the Fraunhofer Institut. Each robot has its own sensors and can make decisions completely autonomously. The robots can, however, communicate wirelessly with one another and with a computer. Date of manufacture: 1999
The robot dog AIBO was perhaps the most technically sophisticated toy ever to be created by its Japanese manufacturer Sony: the battery-operated dog came with 18 electrically controlled joints, microphones, loudspeakers, emotion display, 64-bit processor and a balance system to enable it to stand up. Date of manufacture: 1999
Lauron stands for “LAUfROboter Neuronal gesteuert” (English: “Walking Robot, Neural Controlled”). The walking robot (the 3rd generation of which is on show) was developed in order to research statically stable walking in rough terrain. Its movements are biologically inspired, mimicking those of a stick insect. Each leg can respond semi-autonomously to impulses; the movements are coordinated at a higher level. Lauron is able to gather information about its environment and plan a path towards a given goal autonomously. While walking, the robot uses sensors to detect potential obstacles and then either walks over or around them. Date of manufacture: 1999
Using a camera, this 2nd-generation face robot scans the viewer’s facial expression, which is then recognised and interpreted by software based on a neural net. From a repertoire of pre-programmed responses, the robot’s mechanism is activated and a matching facial expression is generated. The mechanical and electronic parts of the Mark II were covered by a silicone skin to create a robot face that looks as human as possible. Fumio Hara, Science University of Tokyo, Japan, 2001
RoboThespian is a life-sized humanoid robot designed for human interaction in public environments. It can sing as well as tell jokes and recite text passages. Visitors can choose from a selection of programmed text sequences for the metallic creation to read out, accompanied by a range of gestures. Date of manufacture: 2011
The earliest documents written on clay tablets in cuneiform script were used for tax and accounting purposes. Records were kept of the bread rations paid to workers, for example. The precise history is not known. About 2350-2100 BC
Wilhelm Schickard wanted to “mechanise” the laborious and error-prone task of calculating astronomical tables. In 1623 he had two calculating machines built to his specifications in a mechanic’s workshop in Tübingen – one for himself, the other for Johannes Kepler. The practical benefits of his “calculating clock” appeared somewhat dubious at the time, as the system based on logarithmic tables was superior. Regrettably, both machines were destroyed in a fire at the workshop and the invention was forgotten. This reconstruction of the machine by Baron von Freytag Löringhoff was completed in 1957. Date of manufacture: 1957
In 1678, French watchmaker René Grillet presented the “Machine arithmétique” which was capable of carrying out all four basic arithmetic operations. Constructed largely out of paper, the invention used so-called Napier’s rods that had been around since 1617 for the calculation process. It is an excellent example of the early days of mechanical calculation and an ancestor of today’s pocket calculator. Date of manufacture: 1678
This calculating machine, invented by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, was built in the years from 1690 to 1720. It represents a historic milestone in the development of mechanical calculating machines because it was the first to perform all four arithmetic operations. Leibniz's operating mechanism, known as the stepped cylinder or Leibniz wheel, allowed multiplication to be performed mechanically and remained an indispensable component of mechanical calculators for over 200 years. Functioning replica of the only remaining original (at the Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek in Hanover), built to plans by N. Joachim Lehmann. HNF replica: 1995
The device popularly known as the “Chess Turk“ was built in 1769 by Austrian court official Wolfgang von Kempelen in such a way as to convince spectators that they were watching an “automated chess player“. In fact an individual of quite normal size sat inside and controlled the gripper arm with the aid of levers and cable winches. Magnetised chess pieces and small magnetic pins on the underside of the board enabled the moves to be followed by the person within. Functional HNF replica: 2004
An Arithmometer is a mechanical calculating machine invented by the Frenchman Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar (1785-1870). It was the world's first calculating machine to go into series production. As well as addition and subtraction, it could perform multiplication and division by means of repeated addition and subtraction. This luxury version of the calculating machine was a gift to the king of Portugal. Date of manufacture: about 1855
The Hansen Writing Ball was the world's first typewriter to be produced commercially, albeit in small batches. It was developed in 1865 by Rasmus Johann Malling-Hansen, a Danish pastor and teacher of deaf-mutes. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a well-known user. Date of manufacture: about 1878
The name Morse and the code of the same name became synonymous with telegraphy. His procedure for transmitting text information via a series of pulses (dots and dashes) and the silences between them helped the technology achieve a breakthrough. The most important components of the Ericsson Morse Telegraph Type TA 100 for receiving messages (“sounder”) are an electromagnet, an armature, a mechanical clockwork to move the paper tape, a coloured stylus and a roll of paper. A Morse key is required to transmit messages. Date of manufacture: about 1880
In 1883, Englishman Joseph Edmondson obtained a patent for a circular calculating machine based on the stepped-drum mechanism. His design was based on Thomas de Colmar’s simple “arithmomètre”. The advantage of Edmondson’s machine was that it was not limited to a certain number of decimal places if a division produced a remainder. Date of manufacture: about 1885
This machine is a replica of the first Hollerith machine that was used so successfully to complete the first census in the USA thanks to the use of punched cards. It provided a much faster way of counting the vast amount of data gathered. The Hollerith machine consists of two hinged plates, a switch panel with relays, a counting device with 40 counters and a sorting box. When one of the pins on the plates meets a hole in the punched card, a circuit is completed and an electric pulse causes the pointer of a counter to advance accordingly. The respective compartment of the sorting box is also opened, and the operator can place the analysed punched card into it by hand. Functional HNF replica: 2006
The comptometer was the first exclusively key-driven mechanical calculator. The “wooden box” was a precursor to the full-keyboard adding machines built between 1886 and 1904. According to its manufacturer’s promotional material, it was the world’s first adding machine with a practical application. Date of manufacture: about 1900
The Underwood No. 5, which appeared in 1900, was the first classic modern typewriter (with visible text, upper- and lower-case letters and tab stops). It set the standard for all subsequent typewriters worldwide until they were superseded first by IBM electric typewriters, which used a type ball instead of type bars, and then by PCs. Date of manufacture: 1915
This extremely compact table-top telephone with a quirky design was also known as the “Pferdefuss” or “horse’s hoof” in Bavaria due to its shape. It was the approved standard dialling apparatus only in Bavaria. Incidentally, the device was referred to as the “cow’s hoof” in Prussia. Date of manufacture: from 1925 onwards
In 1879 the Ritty brothers filed a patent application for the first cash register in the USA. Businessman John H. Patterson acquired the rights to manufacture cash registers in 1884 and founded the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio. The NCR 400 series models were among the standard cash registers in use at the time. They were favoured by retail outlets because of their robust nature. Model 422 has five rows of keys and features 42 keys in all. The indicators are in English and show sums of pounds and pence. Date of manufacture: 1910
The Kryha Liliput is a very rare cipher machine in pocket-watch format. The machine consisted of two concentric rings, each featuring an alphabet and numbers. The user would operate it by pushing a lever to step the inner ring a random number of places against the outer ring, thereby changing the relationship between the two. Although Kryha’s devices were a commercial success, they were cryptographically weak as the period lengths of the codes were generally quite short. The Kryha Liliput was cryptographically compatible with its “big sister”, the Kryha Standard. Date of manufacture: about 1926
The legendary Enigma cipher machine was developed in the early 1920s by the German engineer Artur Scherbius in Berlin and initially marketed for commercial purposes. The machine has three rotors, each of which performs an alphabetic substitution cipher. By combining the rotors in series and using a plugboard with variable wiring, very complex scrambling of the message can be achieved. Date of manufacture: about 1942
The T52 e was a World War II German cipher machine and teleprinter. Due to its size and weight, however, it was only ever used as a stationary device. Unlike the Enigma, messages were encrypted and deciphered automatically. On 20 July 1944, the resistance group led by Claus von Stauffenberg used the device to issue encrypted commands for Operation Valkyrie, the plot to assassinate Hitler. Date of manufacture: 1942
The first functioning electronic computer consisted of 40 panels with almost 18,000 vacuum tubes. J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly were commissioned to construct a vacuum-tube computer by the US Army in 1943. ENIAC, which was 1,000 times faster than other calculating machines, was developed by the young scientists at the Moore School of Electronics in Philadelphia. It required just eight hours to perform calculations that had previously taken an entire year. The high processing capacity was needed by the US Army to calculate artillery firing tables. Mauchly wanted to use ENIAC’s speed to produce more accurate weather forecasts, which is why its inventors built a “universal machine“. Date of manufacture: 1946
The history of IBM in Germany dates back to 1910, with the founding of DEHOMAG (Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH) in Berlin. The company was renamed IBM Deutschland GmbH in 1949, when it relocated to Böblingen. The D 11 tabulator, which was manufactured from 1935 onwards, was the first German machine of its kind. Used for punched card analysis, its ability to read, count, compute and print cards made it the mainstay of many so-called Hollerith departments. The machine proved a milestone in the development of punched card technology: It was on sale until 1960, latterly as the IBM D11 Type 450. Around 1,100 D 11 models were sold in all. Date of manufacture: between 1949 and 1960
In the early days of telephony, calls were connected manually by a switchboard operator . The next stage of development saw the introduction of automatic telephone exchanges which dispensed with the need for human intervention. A local telephone exchange establishes connections between the subscribers of a local network. In this case, an analogue electrical signal is switched via electromechanical components. If the first digit dialled by the subscriber is a zero, he or she is put through to the trunk or long-distance exchange. The electromechanical system exhibited here was in use in Hagen-Eilpe until 1994, when it was replaced by a digital switching system.
The W48 desktop telephone was developed for the Deutsche Bundespost by Siemens & Halske in 1948 in the western zone of occupied Germany and produced in very large quantities. Date of manufacture: 1954
This is the first computer developed by Heinz Nixdorf. He started work in July 1952 and it took him 15 months to complete. The electronic balancer is equipped with vacuum tubes. It is a one-off machine built especially for materials management at Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), where it supplemented the work of a Remington Rand tabulating machine, whose mechanical mode of operation was no match for the much faster Nixdorf electronics. Date of manufacture: 1953
The accounting machine Exacta-Continental 6000 was the ultimate in electromechanical office equipment: it could manage all accounting tasks with ease. It came with an optional Multitronic electronic multiplication unit manufactured by Heinz Nixdorf’s Labor für Impulstechnik, which signalled the beginning of a new data processing era from 1958 onwards. Date of manufacture: about 1958
The Zuse Z 11 was the first programmable relay computer from ZUSE KG to go into series production. It was used for mathematical calculations, its hard-wired programs having been designed for surveying tasks in particular. The last in a development series of electro-mechanically controlled computer systems, it contained relays as binary switching elements. These may have been slower than vacuum tubes, but were also more reliable, more durable and less expensive. Date of manufacture: 1958
The Curta is the only mechanical pocket calculator that is capable of performing all four basic arithmetic operations. The inventor of this precision-engineered masterpiece was an Austrian, Curt Herzstark (1902-1988). Date of manufacture: about 1965
The Anita was the first all-electronic, tube-based desktop calculator. Not only was it completely silent, but it operated much faster than mechanical machines, and was maintenance-free too. However, tubes were not an optimum technical solution for desktop calculators as they used a lot of electricity, were relatively susceptible to breakage and were expensive to produce. For this reason, this technology remained unique to the Anita. Mass production of such devices only became an option once transistors started to be used from around 1964 onwards. Date of manufacture: 1961
The linotype machine was a “line casting” machine used in printing. It replaced the extremely time-consuming manual type-setting process. The machine, which was patented in 1886, mechanised the setting and casting of letters. The setter entered text at a keyboard: every time a key was pressed, a matrix of the chosen letter fell into position from a magazine. The assembled line of matrices was cast as a single piece of type metal and filled with liquid lead once the spaces between words had been automatically adjusted. After cooling, this produced “A LINE OF TYPES”. Date of manufacture: 1962
At the start of the 1950s, VEB Optima Büromaschinenwerk Erfurt was asked to develop a typewriter for China as part of e socialist initiative to support allied nations. The Erfurt manufacturers based their design on the box-type typewriter first sold in 1917 by Nippon Typewriter Co. Ltd. in Tokyo. The “Chinese Optima” made its début in 1953. Subsequently, the Chinese bicycle factory “Flying Dove” took over production of the device, two versions of which were produced in China under the “Flying Dove” brand until the end of 1992. Date of manufacture: 1992
This computer originated from the Gemini II mission; it featured in an unmanned space flight on 19.01.1965. The Mercury and Gemini space programmes laid the groundwork for the moon landing. From 1963 onwards, the Gemini missions tested orbital coupling manoeuvres necessary to achieve rendezvous and docking. Safe, accurate manoeuvring was only possible with the aid of a computer. IBM’s commission to develop the on-board computer was worth $26.6 million. It was the first computer to have a magnetic core memory so that data was not destroyed when read out. It was also IBM’s first computer to be fully transistorised. The computer proved reliable in operation. Date of manufacture: about 1964
In 1965, the Digital Equipment Corporation presented the PDP-8, thereby marking the beginning of the mini-computer era. Priced at just 18,200 Dollars, this general-purpose computer was robust enough to be used in both production and laboratory environments. Some 10,000 of them were sold within the space of 10 years; by 1975, the PDP-8 cost just 2,600 Dollars. A whole variety of manufacturers tapped into the new market, building computers based on the PDP-8 for use in process and manufacturing technology and for controlling experiments in research. By 1975, more than 30 companies in the West German market alone were selling mini-computers. Date of manufacture: 1965
In 1964, Nixdorf developed the electronics for a desk-top calculator produced by office equipment manufacturer Wanderer, later building the components itself under licence. The “Wanderer Conti” was presented to the public for the first time in 1965 at the Hanover Trade Fair. It was the world’s first fully electronic desk-top calculator with printing output. In terms of design, the four-species calculator was a bona fide computer, boasting an arithmetic unit, a magnetic core memory, a printer and a threaded read-only memory (ROM). The Conti enabled Nixdorf to gain a foothold in the US market when the Chicago-based Victor Comptometer Corporation placed an order worth DM 100 million for the machine in 1968. Date of manufacture: 1966
The Olivetti Valentine is a mechanical typewriter that stands out largely by virtue of its unconventional appearance. It is regarded as a milestone in industrial design and is a sought-after collector’s item. Date of manufacture: early 1970s
The great success enjoyed by Nixdorf at the end of the 1960s and start of the 1970s was based largely on the computers of the 820 series. These were universal computers for companies of all sizes and could be used for almost any application area thanks to their modular construction and consistent application of the modular design system. Date of manufacture: 1974
Canon Canola Pocketronic, Sanyo ICC-82D, Sharp EL-8: The first battery-operated electronic pocket calculators were brought out virtually simultaneously in 1970 by Japanese firms Sanyo, Sharp and Canon. However, the "heart" of these first pocket calculators – the microchip – was produced by US companies such as Texas Instruments and Rockwell. Texas Instruments had developed the first portable prototype as early as 1967. But the Cal-Tech, as it was known, was merely supposed to demonstrate the power of the new chip and never went into series production. The huge sales potential of the pocket calculator had yet to be recognised, especially since it was still too expensive to produce. It was for this reason that Texas Instruments sold the technical design of the Cal-Tech to Canon, and only brought out its own pocket calculator in 1972. Date of manufacture: 1970
The Odyssey console laid the foundations for the video game era. In 1966 Ralph Baer, a US engineer of German descent, filed a patent for a kind of ping-pong game. This was ultimately granted in 1968. It was not until 1972 that the game was distributed with a gaming console by Magnavox. Poor marketing meant that although the video game wasn’t a commercial flop, it wasn’t a resounding financial success either. Date of manufacture: 1972
The HP-35 was the world's first scientific pocket calculator. Before it came along, slide rules and logarithm tables were required for trigonometric and exponential functions. Pocket calculators were only capable of the four basic arithmetic operations. The price for an HP-35 in 1972 was about DM 2,000. Date of manufacture: 1972
In 1970, the photocopier company Xerox founded a research centre in Palo Alto known as PARC. This is where the Xerox Alto was developed, a forerunner of much of the PC technology taken for granted today. The Alto had a graphical user interface and a mouse, and was the model on which first the Macintosh, then Windows were based. It was also fully network-capable: the Ethernet was another Xerox PARC invention. Many Alto system engineers later worked on the Apple Macintosh. Only around 1,000 examples of the Alto were built; it was a prototype and was never launched on the market. Date of manufacture: 1973
The January 1975 issue of the magazine Popular Electronics featured the forerunner of the first personal computer, the Altair 8800, which had been designed by Ed Roberts and his company MITS. It was available as a kit for 397 US dollars, making it the first computer that ordinary consumers could afford and marking the advent of widespread PC use. Incidentally, the Altair's name comes from a TV series. The twelve-year-old daughter of editor Les Solomon said: “Call it Altair. That's where the Enterprise is heading tonight.“ Date of manufacture: 1975
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple on 1 April 1976. Soon afterwards, they presented their first computer: the Apple I. A total of only 200 Apple I computers were made. Jobs and Wozniak built it in Jobs's parents' garage in Los Altos, California and sold it for $666. The Apple I was actually just a circuit board. Users had to make their own housing for it and add input and output devices themselves. There are still around 70 Apple I computers in existence worldwide. Date of manufacture: 1976
The Apple II was the first “personal“ desktop computer to achieve commercial success. In contrast to the Apple I, the main board was supplied in a plastic housing together with a keyboard, a monitor and software.  The Apple Writer word processor and VisiCalc spreadsheet software were key to its success. The Apple II marked the start of Apple's rise to become the world's most successful company. Date of manufacture: 1977
The computer centre from the Sachsenwerk in Dresden is part of a system that was only shut down in 1993. It played a role in GDR computer history and a part in the success story of a major computer system. The Einheitliches System Elektronischer Rechenanlagen (standardized system of electronic computers) is the functional replica of an IBM computer: ESER 1055 is compatible with the 370/155 in terms of hardware and software alike. These computer systems were built until well into the 1980s. Date of manufacture: about 1979
Whenever computers were mentioned in the 1960s and 1970s, IBM was the name on everyone's lips. Despite this, the manufacturing giant was so slow to react that it almost missed out on the personal computer revolution, eventually launching its own PC 5150 in August 1981. The device proved an immediate hit, becoming an office mainstay. After all, it was a product of THE computer company, a fact which engendered trust among businesses that had not had any faith in the models available on the market thus far. The IBM PC, which ran with Microsoft's DOS operating system, provided the industry standard that had been lacking for so long. Date of manufacture: 1984
When Adam Osborne founded his computer firm, he was already well-known on the burgeoning home-computer scene thanks to numerous books and articles he had published. Although others before him had toyed with the idea of building a portable computer, his model, the Osborne 1, was the first on the market. Compared with today’s laptops, the Osborne 1 was extremely heavy and unwieldy. Despite this drawback, it proved a big success and almost became a cult object. Unfortunately, Osborne’s company went bankrupt in 1983. Date of manufacture: 1983
Commodore presented the C64 in 1982. Two years after its launch, four million units had already been sold, breaking all previous records for computer sales. Ultimately, a total of over 20 million C64 computers were sold throughout the world. The C64 was sometimes referred to as the “breadbox“ or even the “neck rest“ due to its shape. Date of manufacture: 1982
Motorola launched the first commercial mobile phone in 1983: the Dynatac 8000X. This bulky forebear of today's mobile phones weighed almost 750 grams and cost around $400. Date of manufacture: 1983
Apple launched the Macintosh on 24 January 1984. The Mac broke with all the previously accepted notions about PCs. When Jef Raskin, the father of the Mac, proposed the project in 1979, his idea was to design a computer that was geared to people. The Mac enabled normal users to become acquainted with the graphical user interface featuring desktop, mouse and windows. All they had to do beforehand was to unpack it and plug it in. Although the Mac lost out to the IBM PCs in the office environment, it revolutionised the entire graphic design industry. Date of manufacture: 1984
The Cray-2 was the fastest computer in the world in 1985. It weighed 2.5 tonnes. It was supplied as a supercomputer with up to four processors, a peak performance of 2 GFLOPS, 2 GB of memory and a maximum clock speed of 4.1 ns. It is notable for its striking design. A total of 27 units were sold. Date of manufacture: 1985
The Nintendo Game Boy proved to be one of the most successful products in the company’s history. The hand-held video game device was launched on the market in a plain grey-and-white version in 1989. Its robust technology, ease of operation and low battery consumption all helped to make it the biggest-selling console of the time. Although the Game Boy was initially only available with the game Tetris, strangely enough this became part of its appeal: it wasn’t just for hard-core players, but for everyone. The Game Boy was manufactured until 2002 and 120 million devices were sold in all. Date of manufacture: about 1990
The Newton was Apple’s attempt to create a revolutionary new device. A feature of the PDA (Private Digital Assistant) was handwriting recognition software; the device also came with a stylus which was supposed to make entering text child’s play. The touch-sensitive screen would detect characters and words automatically as they were written. However, this feature never really worked properly at market launch, something which gave rise to less than glowing reviews in the press. The project was halted in 1998 when company founder Steve Jobs re-joined the company. Date of manufacture: 1993
Robot soccer represents a major challenge for researchers in the field of artificial intelligence. A proving ground for the state of science in this field, it is also a means of promoting university-level education. Since 1997, international RoboCup matches featuring research teams from all over the world have been held in various leagues. This model – a third-generation, Middle Size League robot – belongs to the Fraunhofer Institut. Each robot has its own sensors and can make decisions completely autonomously. The robots can, however, communicate wirelessly with one another and with a computer. Date of manufacture: 1999
The robot dog AIBO was perhaps the most technically sophisticated toy ever to be created by its Japanese manufacturer Sony: the battery-operated dog came with 18 electrically controlled joints, microphones, loudspeakers, emotion display, 64-bit processor and a balance system to enable it to stand up. Date of manufacture: 1999
Lauron stands for “LAUfROboter Neuronal gesteuert” (English: “Walking Robot, Neural Controlled”). The walking robot (the 3rd generation of which is on show) was developed in order to research statically stable walking in rough terrain. Its movements are biologically inspired, mimicking those of a stick insect. Each leg can respond semi-autonomously to impulses; the movements are coordinated at a higher level. Lauron is able to gather information about its environment and plan a path towards a given goal autonomously. While walking, the robot uses sensors to detect potential obstacles and then either walks over or around them. Date of manufacture: 1999
Using a camera, this 2nd-generation face robot scans the viewer’s facial expression, which is then recognised and interpreted by software based on a neural net. From a repertoire of pre-programmed responses, the robot’s mechanism is activated and a matching facial expression is generated. The mechanical and electronic parts of the Mark II were covered by a silicone skin to create a robot face that looks as human as possible. Fumio Hara, Science University of Tokyo, Japan, 2001
RoboThespian is a life-sized humanoid robot designed for human interaction in public environments. It can sing as well as tell jokes and recite text passages. Visitors can choose from a selection of programmed text sequences for the metallic creation to read out, accompanied by a range of gestures. Date of manufacture: 2011
The earliest documents written on clay tablets in cuneiform script were used for tax and accounting purposes. Records were kept of the bread rations paid to workers, for example. The precise history is not known. About 2350-2100 BC
Wilhelm Schickard wanted to “mechanise” the laborious and error-prone task of calculating astronomical tables. In 1623 he had two calculating machines built to his specifications in a mechanic’s workshop in Tübingen – one for himself, the other for Johannes Kepler. The practical benefits of his “calculating clock” appeared somewhat dubious at the time, as the system based on logarithmic tables was superior. Regrettably, both machines were destroyed in a fire at the workshop and the invention was forgotten. This reconstruction of the machine by Baron von Freytag Löringhoff was completed in 1957. Date of manufacture: 1957
In 1678, French watchmaker René Grillet presented the “Machine arithmétique” which was capable of carrying out all four basic arithmetic operations. Constructed largely out of paper, the invention used so-called Napier’s rods that had been around since 1617 for the calculation process. It is an excellent example of the early days of mechanical calculation and an ancestor of today’s pocket calculator. Date of manufacture: 1678
This calculating machine, invented by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, was built in the years from 1690 to 1720. It represents a historic milestone in the development of mechanical calculating machines because it was the first to perform all four arithmetic operations. Leibniz's operating mechanism, known as the stepped cylinder or Leibniz wheel, allowed multiplication to be performed mechanically and remained an indispensable component of mechanical calculators for over 200 years. Functioning replica of the only remaining original (at the Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek in Hanover), built to plans by N. Joachim Lehmann. HNF replica: 1995
The device popularly known as the “Chess Turk“ was built in 1769 by Austrian court official Wolfgang von Kempelen in such a way as to convince spectators that they were watching an “automated chess player“. In fact an individual of quite normal size sat inside and controlled the gripper arm with the aid of levers and cable winches. Magnetised chess pieces and small magnetic pins on the underside of the board enabled the moves to be followed by the person within. Functional HNF replica: 2004
An Arithmometer is a mechanical calculating machine invented by the Frenchman Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar (1785-1870). It was the world's first calculating machine to go into series production. As well as addition and subtraction, it could perform multiplication and division by means of repeated addition and subtraction. This luxury version of the calculating machine was a gift to the king of Portugal. Date of manufacture: about 1855
The Hansen Writing Ball was the world's first typewriter to be produced commercially, albeit in small batches. It was developed in 1865 by Rasmus Johann Malling-Hansen, a Danish pastor and teacher of deaf-mutes. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a well-known user. Date of manufacture: about 1878
The name Morse and the code of the same name became synonymous with telegraphy. His procedure for transmitting text information via a series of pulses (dots and dashes) and the silences between them helped the technology achieve a breakthrough. The most important components of the Ericsson Morse Telegraph Type TA 100 for receiving messages (“sounder”) are an electromagnet, an armature, a mechanical clockwork to move the paper tape, a coloured stylus and a roll of paper. A Morse key is required to transmit messages. Date of manufacture: about 1880
In 1883, Englishman Joseph Edmondson obtained a patent for a circular calculating machine based on the stepped-drum mechanism. His design was based on Thomas de Colmar’s simple “arithmomètre”. The advantage of Edmondson’s machine was that it was not limited to a certain number of decimal places if a division produced a remainder. Date of manufacture: about 1885
This machine is a replica of the first Hollerith machine that was used so successfully to complete the first census in the USA thanks to the use of punched cards. It provided a much faster way of counting the vast amount of data gathered. The Hollerith machine consists of two hinged plates, a switch panel with relays, a counting device with 40 counters and a sorting box. When one of the pins on the plates meets a hole in the punched card, a circuit is completed and an electric pulse causes the pointer of a counter to advance accordingly. The respective compartment of the sorting box is also opened, and the operator can place the analysed punched card into it by hand. Functional HNF replica: 2006
The comptometer was the first exclusively key-driven mechanical calculator. The “wooden box” was a precursor to the full-keyboard adding machines built between 1886 and 1904. According to its manufacturer’s promotional material, it was the world’s first adding machine with a practical application. Date of manufacture: about 1900
The Underwood No. 5, which appeared in 1900, was the first classic modern typewriter (with visible text, upper- and lower-case letters and tab stops). It set the standard for all subsequent typewriters worldwide until they were superseded first by IBM electric typewriters, which used a type ball instead of type bars, and then by PCs. Date of manufacture: 1915
This extremely compact table-top telephone with a quirky design was also known as the “Pferdefuss” or “horse’s hoof” in Bavaria due to its shape. It was the approved standard dialling apparatus only in Bavaria. Incidentally, the device was referred to as the “cow’s hoof” in Prussia. Date of manufacture: from 1925 onwards
In 1879 the Ritty brothers filed a patent application for the first cash register in the USA. Businessman John H. Patterson acquired the rights to manufacture cash registers in 1884 and founded the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio. The NCR 400 series models were among the standard cash registers in use at the time. They were favoured by retail outlets because of their robust nature. Model 422 has five rows of keys and features 42 keys in all. The indicators are in English and show sums of pounds and pence. Date of manufacture: 1910
The Kryha Liliput is a very rare cipher machine in pocket-watch format. The machine consisted of two concentric rings, each featuring an alphabet and numbers. The user would operate it by pushing a lever to step the inner ring a random number of places against the outer ring, thereby changing the relationship between the two. Although Kryha’s devices were a commercial success, they were cryptographically weak as the period lengths of the codes were generally quite short. The Kryha Liliput was cryptographically compatible with its “big sister”, the Kryha Standard. Date of manufacture: about 1926
The legendary Enigma cipher machine was developed in the early 1920s by the German engineer Artur Scherbius in Berlin and initially marketed for commercial purposes. The machine has three rotors, each of which performs an alphabetic substitution cipher. By combining the rotors in series and using a plugboard with variable wiring, very complex scrambling of the message can be achieved. Date of manufacture: about 1942
The T52 e was a World War II German cipher machine and teleprinter. Due to its size and weight, however, it was only ever used as a stationary device. Unlike the Enigma, messages were encrypted and deciphered automatically. On 20 July 1944, the resistance group led by Claus von Stauffenberg used the device to issue encrypted commands for Operation Valkyrie, the plot to assassinate Hitler. Date of manufacture: 1942
The first functioning electronic computer consisted of 40 panels with almost 18,000 vacuum tubes. J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly were commissioned to construct a vacuum-tube computer by the US Army in 1943. ENIAC, which was 1,000 times faster than other calculating machines, was developed by the young scientists at the Moore School of Electronics in Philadelphia. It required just eight hours to perform calculations that had previously taken an entire year. The high processing capacity was needed by the US Army to calculate artillery firing tables. Mauchly wanted to use ENIAC’s speed to produce more accurate weather forecasts, which is why its inventors built a “universal machine“. Date of manufacture: 1946
The history of IBM in Germany dates back to 1910, with the founding of DEHOMAG (Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH) in Berlin. The company was renamed IBM Deutschland GmbH in 1949, when it relocated to Böblingen. The D 11 tabulator, which was manufactured from 1935 onwards, was the first German machine of its kind. Used for punched card analysis, its ability to read, count, compute and print cards made it the mainstay of many so-called Hollerith departments. The machine proved a milestone in the development of punched card technology: It was on sale until 1960, latterly as the IBM D11 Type 450. Around 1,100 D 11 models were sold in all. Date of manufacture: between 1949 and 1960
In the early days of telephony, calls were connected manually by a switchboard operator . The next stage of development saw the introduction of automatic telephone exchanges which dispensed with the need for human intervention. A local telephone exchange establishes connections between the subscribers of a local network. In this case, an analogue electrical signal is switched via electromechanical components. If the first digit dialled by the subscriber is a zero, he or she is put through to the trunk or long-distance exchange. The electromechanical system exhibited here was in use in Hagen-Eilpe until 1994, when it was replaced by a digital switching system.
The W48 desktop telephone was developed for the Deutsche Bundespost by Siemens & Halske in 1948 in the western zone of occupied Germany and produced in very large quantities. Date of manufacture: 1954
This is the first computer developed by Heinz Nixdorf. He started work in July 1952 and it took him 15 months to complete. The electronic balancer is equipped with vacuum tubes. It is a one-off machine built especially for materials management at Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), where it supplemented the work of a Remington Rand tabulating machine, whose mechanical mode of operation was no match for the much faster Nixdorf electronics. Date of manufacture: 1953
The accounting machine Exacta-Continental 6000 was the ultimate in electromechanical office equipment: it could manage all accounting tasks with ease. It came with an optional Multitronic electronic multiplication unit manufactured by Heinz Nixdorf’s Labor für Impulstechnik, which signalled the beginning of a new data processing era from 1958 onwards. Date of manufacture: about 1958
The Zuse Z 11 was the first programmable relay computer from ZUSE KG to go into series production. It was used for mathematical calculations, its hard-wired programs having been designed for surveying tasks in particular. The last in a development series of electro-mechanically controlled computer systems, it contained relays as binary switching elements. These may have been slower than vacuum tubes, but were also more reliable, more durable and less expensive. Date of manufacture: 1958
The Curta is the only mechanical pocket calculator that is capable of performing all four basic arithmetic operations. The inventor of this precision-engineered masterpiece was an Austrian, Curt Herzstark (1902-1988). Date of manufacture: about 1965
The Anita was the first all-electronic, tube-based desktop calculator. Not only was it completely silent, but it operated much faster than mechanical machines, and was maintenance-free too. However, tubes were not an optimum technical solution for desktop calculators as they used a lot of electricity, were relatively susceptible to breakage and were expensive to produce. For this reason, this technology remained unique to the Anita. Mass production of such devices only became an option once transistors started to be used from around 1964 onwards. Date of manufacture: 1961
The linotype machine was a “line casting” machine used in printing. It replaced the extremely time-consuming manual type-setting process. The machine, which was patented in 1886, mechanised the setting and casting of letters. The setter entered text at a keyboard: every time a key was pressed, a matrix of the chosen letter fell into position from a magazine. The assembled line of matrices was cast as a single piece of type metal and filled with liquid lead once the spaces between words had been automatically adjusted. After cooling, this produced “A LINE OF TYPES”. Date of manufacture: 1962
At the start of the 1950s, VEB Optima Büromaschinenwerk Erfurt was asked to develop a typewriter for China as part of e socialist initiative to support allied nations. The Erfurt manufacturers based their design on the box-type typewriter first sold in 1917 by Nippon Typewriter Co. Ltd. in Tokyo. The “Chinese Optima” made its début in 1953. Subsequently, the Chinese bicycle factory “Flying Dove” took over production of the device, two versions of which were produced in China under the “Flying Dove” brand until the end of 1992. Date of manufacture: 1992
This computer originated from the Gemini II mission; it featured in an unmanned space flight on 19.01.1965. The Mercury and Gemini space programmes laid the groundwork for the moon landing. From 1963 onwards, the Gemini missions tested orbital coupling manoeuvres necessary to achieve rendezvous and docking. Safe, accurate manoeuvring was only possible with the aid of a computer. IBM’s commission to develop the on-board computer was worth $26.6 million. It was the first computer to have a magnetic core memory so that data was not destroyed when read out. It was also IBM’s first computer to be fully transistorised. The computer proved reliable in operation. Date of manufacture: about 1964
In 1965, the Digital Equipment Corporation presented the PDP-8, thereby marking the beginning of the mini-computer era. Priced at just 18,200 Dollars, this general-purpose computer was robust enough to be used in both production and laboratory environments. Some 10,000 of them were sold within the space of 10 years; by 1975, the PDP-8 cost just 2,600 Dollars. A whole variety of manufacturers tapped into the new market, building computers based on the PDP-8 for use in process and manufacturing technology and for controlling experiments in research. By 1975, more than 30 companies in the West German market alone were selling mini-computers. Date of manufacture: 1965
In 1964, Nixdorf developed the electronics for a desk-top calculator produced by office equipment manufacturer Wanderer, later building the components itself under licence. The “Wanderer Conti” was presented to the public for the first time in 1965 at the Hanover Trade Fair. It was the world’s first fully electronic desk-top calculator with printing output. In terms of design, the four-species calculator was a bona fide computer, boasting an arithmetic unit, a magnetic core memory, a printer and a threaded read-only memory (ROM). The Conti enabled Nixdorf to gain a foothold in the US market when the Chicago-based Victor Comptometer Corporation placed an order worth DM 100 million for the machine in 1968. Date of manufacture: 1966
The Olivetti Valentine is a mechanical typewriter that stands out largely by virtue of its unconventional appearance. It is regarded as a milestone in industrial design and is a sought-after collector’s item. Date of manufacture: early 1970s
The great success enjoyed by Nixdorf at the end of the 1960s and start of the 1970s was based largely on the computers of the 820 series. These were universal computers for companies of all sizes and could be used for almost any application area thanks to their modular construction and consistent application of the modular design system. Date of manufacture: 1974
Canon Canola Pocketronic, Sanyo ICC-82D, Sharp EL-8: The first battery-operated electronic pocket calculators were brought out virtually simultaneously in 1970 by Japanese firms Sanyo, Sharp and Canon. However, the "heart" of these first pocket calculators – the microchip – was produced by US companies such as Texas Instruments and Rockwell. Texas Instruments had developed the first portable prototype as early as 1967. But the Cal-Tech, as it was known, was merely supposed to demonstrate the power of the new chip and never went into series production. The huge sales potential of the pocket calculator had yet to be recognised, especially since it was still too expensive to produce. It was for this reason that Texas Instruments sold the technical design of the Cal-Tech to Canon, and only brought out its own pocket calculator in 1972. Date of manufacture: 1970
The Odyssey console laid the foundations for the video game era. In 1966 Ralph Baer, a US engineer of German descent, filed a patent for a kind of ping-pong game. This was ultimately granted in 1968. It was not until 1972 that the game was distributed with a gaming console by Magnavox. Poor marketing meant that although the video game wasn’t a commercial flop, it wasn’t a resounding financial success either. Date of manufacture: 1972
The HP-35 was the world's first scientific pocket calculator. Before it came along, slide rules and logarithm tables were required for trigonometric and exponential functions. Pocket calculators were only capable of the four basic arithmetic operations. The price for an HP-35 in 1972 was about DM 2,000. Date of manufacture: 1972
In 1970, the photocopier company Xerox founded a research centre in Palo Alto known as PARC. This is where the Xerox Alto was developed, a forerunner of much of the PC technology taken for granted today. The Alto had a graphical user interface and a mouse, and was the model on which first the Macintosh, then Windows were based. It was also fully network-capable: the Ethernet was another Xerox PARC invention. Many Alto system engineers later worked on the Apple Macintosh. Only around 1,000 examples of the Alto were built; it was a prototype and was never launched on the market. Date of manufacture: 1973
The January 1975 issue of the magazine Popular Electronics featured the forerunner of the first personal computer, the Altair 8800, which had been designed by Ed Roberts and his company MITS. It was available as a kit for 397 US dollars, making it the first computer that ordinary consumers could afford and marking the advent of widespread PC use. Incidentally, the Altair's name comes from a TV series. The twelve-year-old daughter of editor Les Solomon said: “Call it Altair. That's where the Enterprise is heading tonight.“ Date of manufacture: 1975
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple on 1 April 1976. Soon afterwards, they presented their first computer: the Apple I. A total of only 200 Apple I computers were made. Jobs and Wozniak built it in Jobs's parents' garage in Los Altos, California and sold it for $666. The Apple I was actually just a circuit board. Users had to make their own housing for it and add input and output devices themselves. There are still around 70 Apple I computers in existence worldwide. Date of manufacture: 1976
The Apple II was the first “personal“ desktop computer to achieve commercial success. In contrast to the Apple I, the main board was supplied in a plastic housing together with a keyboard, a monitor and software.  The Apple Writer word processor and VisiCalc spreadsheet software were key to its success. The Apple II marked the start of Apple's rise to become the world's most successful company. Date of manufacture: 1977
The computer centre from the Sachsenwerk in Dresden is part of a system that was only shut down in 1993. It played a role in GDR computer history and a part in the success story of a major computer system. The Einheitliches System Elektronischer Rechenanlagen (standardized system of electronic computers) is the functional replica of an IBM computer: ESER 1055 is compatible with the 370/155 in terms of hardware and software alike. These computer systems were built until well into the 1980s. Date of manufacture: about 1979
Whenever computers were mentioned in the 1960s and 1970s, IBM was the name on everyone's lips. Despite this, the manufacturing giant was so slow to react that it almost missed out on the personal computer revolution, eventually launching its own PC 5150 in August 1981. The device proved an immediate hit, becoming an office mainstay. After all, it was a product of THE computer company, a fact which engendered trust among businesses that had not had any faith in the models available on the market thus far. The IBM PC, which ran with Microsoft's DOS operating system, provided the industry standard that had been lacking for so long. Date of manufacture: 1984
When Adam Osborne founded his computer firm, he was already well-known on the burgeoning home-computer scene thanks to numerous books and articles he had published. Although others before him had toyed with the idea of building a portable computer, his model, the Osborne 1, was the first on the market. Compared with today’s laptops, the Osborne 1 was extremely heavy and unwieldy. Despite this drawback, it proved a big success and almost became a cult object. Unfortunately, Osborne’s company went bankrupt in 1983. Date of manufacture: 1983
Commodore presented the C64 in 1982. Two years after its launch, four million units had already been sold, breaking all previous records for computer sales. Ultimately, a total of over 20 million C64 computers were sold throughout the world. The C64 was sometimes referred to as the “breadbox“ or even the “neck rest“ due to its shape. Date of manufacture: 1982
Motorola launched the first commercial mobile phone in 1983: the Dynatac 8000X. This bulky forebear of today's mobile phones weighed almost 750 grams and cost around $400. Date of manufacture: 1983
Apple launched the Macintosh on 24 January 1984. The Mac broke with all the previously accepted notions about PCs. When Jef Raskin, the father of the Mac, proposed the project in 1979, his idea was to design a computer that was geared to people. The Mac enabled normal users to become acquainted with the graphical user interface featuring desktop, mouse and windows. All they had to do beforehand was to unpack it and plug it in. Although the Mac lost out to the IBM PCs in the office environment, it revolutionised the entire graphic design industry. Date of manufacture: 1984
The Cray-2 was the fastest computer in the world in 1985. It weighed 2.5 tonnes. It was supplied as a supercomputer with up to four processors, a peak performance of 2 GFLOPS, 2 GB of memory and a maximum clock speed of 4.1 ns. It is notable for its striking design. A total of 27 units were sold. Date of manufacture: 1985
The Nintendo Game Boy proved to be one of the most successful products in the company’s history. The hand-held video game device was launched on the market in a plain grey-and-white version in 1989. Its robust technology, ease of operation and low battery consumption all helped to make it the biggest-selling console of the time. Although the Game Boy was initially only available with the game Tetris, strangely enough this became part of its appeal: it wasn’t just for hard-core players, but for everyone. The Game Boy was manufactured until 2002 and 120 million devices were sold in all. Date of manufacture: about 1990
The Newton was Apple’s attempt to create a revolutionary new device. A feature of the PDA (Private Digital Assistant) was handwriting recognition software; the device also came with a stylus which was supposed to make entering text child’s play. The touch-sensitive screen would detect characters and words automatically as they were written. However, this feature never really worked properly at market launch, something which gave rise to less than glowing reviews in the press. The project was halted in 1998 when company founder Steve Jobs re-joined the company. Date of manufacture: 1993
Robot soccer represents a major challenge for researchers in the field of artificial intelligence. A proving ground for the state of science in this field, it is also a means of promoting university-level education. Since 1997, international RoboCup matches featuring research teams from all over the world have been held in various leagues. This model – a third-generation, Middle Size League robot – belongs to the Fraunhofer Institut. Each robot has its own sensors and can make decisions completely autonomously. The robots can, however, communicate wirelessly with one another and with a computer. Date of manufacture: 1999
The robot dog AIBO was perhaps the most technically sophisticated toy ever to be created by its Japanese manufacturer Sony: the battery-operated dog came with 18 electrically controlled joints, microphones, loudspeakers, emotion display, 64-bit processor and a balance system to enable it to stand up. Date of manufacture: 1999
Lauron stands for “LAUfROboter Neuronal gesteuert” (English: “Walking Robot, Neural Controlled”). The walking robot (the 3rd generation of which is on show) was developed in order to research statically stable walking in rough terrain. Its movements are biologically inspired, mimicking those of a stick insect. Each leg can respond semi-autonomously to impulses; the movements are coordinated at a higher level. Lauron is able to gather information about its environment and plan a path towards a given goal autonomously. While walking, the robot uses sensors to detect potential obstacles and then either walks over or around them. Date of manufacture: 1999
Using a camera, this 2nd-generation face robot scans the viewer’s facial expression, which is then recognised and interpreted by software based on a neural net. From a repertoire of pre-programmed responses, the robot’s mechanism is activated and a matching facial expression is generated. The mechanical and electronic parts of the Mark II were covered by a silicone skin to create a robot face that looks as human as possible. Fumio Hara, Science University of Tokyo, Japan, 2001
RoboThespian is a life-sized humanoid robot designed for human interaction in public environments. It can sing as well as tell jokes and recite text passages. Visitors can choose from a selection of programmed text sequences for the metallic creation to read out, accompanied by a range of gestures. Date of manufacture: 2011
The earliest documents written on clay tablets in cuneiform script were used for tax and accounting purposes. Records were kept of the bread rations paid to workers, for example. The precise history is not known. About 2350-2100 BC
Wilhelm Schickard wanted to “mechanise” the laborious and error-prone task of calculating astronomical tables. In 1623 he had two calculating machines built to his specifications in a mechanic’s workshop in Tübingen – one for himself, the other for Johannes Kepler. The practical benefits of his “calculating clock” appeared somewhat dubious at the time, as the system based on logarithmic tables was superior. Regrettably, both machines were destroyed in a fire at the workshop and the invention was forgotten. This reconstruction of the machine by Baron von Freytag Löringhoff was completed in 1957. Date of manufacture: 1957
In 1678, French watchmaker René Grillet presented the “Machine arithmétique” which was capable of carrying out all four basic arithmetic operations. Constructed largely out of paper, the invention used so-called Napier’s rods that had been around since 1617 for the calculation process. It is an excellent example of the early days of mechanical calculation and an ancestor of today’s pocket calculator. Date of manufacture: 1678
This calculating machine, invented by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, was built in the years from 1690 to 1720. It represents a historic milestone in the development of mechanical calculating machines because it was the first to perform all four arithmetic operations. Leibniz's operating mechanism, known as the stepped cylinder or Leibniz wheel, allowed multiplication to be performed mechanically and remained an indispensable component of mechanical calculators for over 200 years. Functioning replica of the only remaining original (at the Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek in Hanover), built to plans by N. Joachim Lehmann. HNF replica: 1995
The device popularly known as the “Chess Turk“ was built in 1769 by Austrian court official Wolfgang von Kempelen in such a way as to convince spectators that they were watching an “automated chess player“. In fact an individual of quite normal size sat inside and controlled the gripper arm with the aid of levers and cable winches. Magnetised chess pieces and small magnetic pins on the underside of the board enabled the moves to be followed by the person within. Functional HNF replica: 2004
An Arithmometer is a mechanical calculating machine invented by the Frenchman Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar (1785-1870). It was the world's first calculating machine to go into series production. As well as addition and subtraction, it could perform multiplication and division by means of repeated addition and subtraction. This luxury version of the calculating machine was a gift to the king of Portugal. Date of manufacture: about 1855
The Hansen Writing Ball was the world's first typewriter to be produced commercially, albeit in small batches. It was developed in 1865 by Rasmus Johann Malling-Hansen, a Danish pastor and teacher of deaf-mutes. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a well-known user. Date of manufacture: about 1878
The name Morse and the code of the same name became synonymous with telegraphy. His procedure for transmitting text information via a series of pulses (dots and dashes) and the silences between them helped the technology achieve a breakthrough. The most important components of the Ericsson Morse Telegraph Type TA 100 for receiving messages (“sounder”) are an electromagnet, an armature, a mechanical clockwork to move the paper tape, a coloured stylus and a roll of paper. A Morse key is required to transmit messages. Date of manufacture: about 1880
In 1883, Englishman Joseph Edmondson obtained a patent for a circular calculating machine based on the stepped-drum mechanism. His design was based on Thomas de Colmar’s simple “arithmomètre”. The advantage of Edmondson’s machine was that it was not limited to a certain number of decimal places if a division produced a remainder. Date of manufacture: about 1885
This machine is a replica of the first Hollerith machine that was used so successfully to complete the first census in the USA thanks to the use of punched cards. It provided a much faster way of counting the vast amount of data gathered. The Hollerith machine consists of two hinged plates, a switch panel with relays, a counting device with 40 counters and a sorting box. When one of the pins on the plates meets a hole in the punched card, a circuit is completed and an electric pulse causes the pointer of a counter to advance accordingly. The respective compartment of the sorting box is also opened, and the operator can place the analysed punched card into it by hand. Functional HNF replica: 2006
The comptometer was the first exclusively key-driven mechanical calculator. The “wooden box” was a precursor to the full-keyboard adding machines built between 1886 and 1904. According to its manufacturer’s promotional material, it was the world’s first adding machine with a practical application. Date of manufacture: about 1900
The Underwood No. 5, which appeared in 1900, was the first classic modern typewriter (with visible text, upper- and lower-case letters and tab stops). It set the standard for all subsequent typewriters worldwide until they were superseded first by IBM electric typewriters, which used a type ball instead of type bars, and then by PCs. Date of manufacture: 1915
This extremely compact table-top telephone with a quirky design was also known as the “Pferdefuss” or “horse’s hoof” in Bavaria due to its shape. It was the approved standard dialling apparatus only in Bavaria. Incidentally, the device was referred to as the “cow’s hoof” in Prussia. Date of manufacture: from 1925 onwards
In 1879 the Ritty brothers filed a patent application for the first cash register in the USA. Businessman John H. Patterson acquired the rights to manufacture cash registers in 1884 and founded the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio. The NCR 400 series models were among the standard cash registers in use at the time. They were favoured by retail outlets because of their robust nature. Model 422 has five rows of keys and features 42 keys in all. The indicators are in English and show sums of pounds and pence. Date of manufacture: 1910
The Kryha Liliput is a very rare cipher machine in pocket-watch format. The machine consisted of two concentric rings, each featuring an alphabet and numbers. The user would operate it by pushing a lever to step the inner ring a random number of places against the outer ring, thereby changing the relationship between the two. Although Kryha’s devices were a commercial success, they were cryptographically weak as the period lengths of the codes were generally quite short. The Kryha Liliput was cryptographically compatible with its “big sister”, the Kryha Standard. Date of manufacture: about 1926
The legendary Enigma cipher machine was developed in the early 1920s by the German engineer Artur Scherbius in Berlin and initially marketed for commercial purposes. The machine has three rotors, each of which performs an alphabetic substitution cipher. By combining the rotors in series and using a plugboard with variable wiring, very complex scrambling of the message can be achieved. Date of manufacture: about 1942
The T52 e was a World War II German cipher machine and teleprinter. Due to its size and weight, however, it was only ever used as a stationary device. Unlike the Enigma, messages were encrypted and deciphered automatically. On 20 July 1944, the resistance group led by Claus von Stauffenberg used the device to issue encrypted commands for Operation Valkyrie, the plot to assassinate Hitler. Date of manufacture: 1942
The first functioning electronic computer consisted of 40 panels with almost 18,000 vacuum tubes. J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly were commissioned to construct a vacuum-tube computer by the US Army in 1943. ENIAC, which was 1,000 times faster than other calculating machines, was developed by the young scientists at the Moore School of Electronics in Philadelphia. It required just eight hours to perform calculations that had previously taken an entire year. The high processing capacity was needed by the US Army to calculate artillery firing tables. Mauchly wanted to use ENIAC’s speed to produce more accurate weather forecasts, which is why its inventors built a “universal machine“. Date of manufacture: 1946
The history of IBM in Germany dates back to 1910, with the founding of DEHOMAG (Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH) in Berlin. The company was renamed IBM Deutschland GmbH in 1949, when it relocated to Böblingen. The D 11 tabulator, which was manufactured from 1935 onwards, was the first German machine of its kind. Used for punched card analysis, its ability to read, count, compute and print cards made it the mainstay of many so-called Hollerith departments. The machine proved a milestone in the development of punched card technology: It was on sale until 1960, latterly as the IBM D11 Type 450. Around 1,100 D 11 models were sold in all. Date of manufacture: between 1949 and 1960
In the early days of telephony, calls were connected manually by a switchboard operator . The next stage of development saw the introduction of automatic telephone exchanges which dispensed with the need for human intervention. A local telephone exchange establishes connections between the subscribers of a local network. In this case, an analogue electrical signal is switched via electromechanical components. If the first digit dialled by the subscriber is a zero, he or she is put through to the trunk or long-distance exchange. The electromechanical system exhibited here was in use in Hagen-Eilpe until 1994, when it was replaced by a digital switching system.
The W48 desktop telephone was developed for the Deutsche Bundespost by Siemens & Halske in 1948 in the western zone of occupied Germany and produced in very large quantities. Date of manufacture: 1954
This is the first computer developed by Heinz Nixdorf. He started work in July 1952 and it took him 15 months to complete. The electronic balancer is equipped with vacuum tubes. It is a one-off machine built especially for materials management at Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), where it supplemented the work of a Remington Rand tabulating machine, whose mechanical mode of operation was no match for the much faster Nixdorf electronics. Date of manufacture: 1953
The accounting machine Exacta-Continental 6000 was the ultimate in electromechanical office equipment: it could manage all accounting tasks with ease. It came with an optional Multitronic electronic multiplication unit manufactured by Heinz Nixdorf’s Labor für Impulstechnik, which signalled the beginning of a new data processing era from 1958 onwards. Date of manufacture: about 1958
The Zuse Z 11 was the first programmable relay computer from ZUSE KG to go into series production. It was used for mathematical calculations, its hard-wired programs having been designed for surveying tasks in particular. The last in a development series of electro-mechanically controlled computer systems, it contained relays as binary switching elements. These may have been slower than vacuum tubes, but were also more reliable, more durable and less expensive. Date of manufacture: 1958
The Curta is the only mechanical pocket calculator that is capable of performing all four basic arithmetic operations. The inventor of this precision-engineered masterpiece was an Austrian, Curt Herzstark (1902-1988). Date of manufacture: about 1965
The Anita was the first all-electronic, tube-based desktop calculator. Not only was it completely silent, but it operated much faster than mechanical machines, and was maintenance-free too. However, tubes were not an optimum technical solution for desktop calculators as they used a lot of electricity, were relatively susceptible to breakage and were expensive to produce. For this reason, this technology remained unique to the Anita. Mass production of such devices only became an option once transistors started to be used from around 1964 onwards. Date of manufacture: 1961
The linotype machine was a “line casting” machine used in printing. It replaced the extremely time-consuming manual type-setting process. The machine, which was patented in 1886, mechanised the setting and casting of letters. The setter entered text at a keyboard: every time a key was pressed, a matrix of the chosen letter fell into position from a magazine. The assembled line of matrices was cast as a single piece of type metal and filled with liquid lead once the spaces between words had been automatically adjusted. After cooling, this produced “A LINE OF TYPES”. Date of manufacture: 1962
At the start of the 1950s, VEB Optima Büromaschinenwerk Erfurt was asked to develop a typewriter for China as part of e socialist initiative to support allied nations. The Erfurt manufacturers based their design on the box-type typewriter first sold in 1917 by Nippon Typewriter Co. Ltd. in Tokyo. The “Chinese Optima” made its début in 1953. Subsequently, the Chinese bicycle factory “Flying Dove” took over production of the device, two versions of which were produced in China under the “Flying Dove” brand until the end of 1992. Date of manufacture: 1992
This computer originated from the Gemini II mission; it featured in an unmanned space flight on 19.01.1965. The Mercury and Gemini space programmes laid the groundwork for the moon landing. From 1963 onwards, the Gemini missions tested orbital coupling manoeuvres necessary to achieve rendezvous and docking. Safe, accurate manoeuvring was only possible with the aid of a computer. IBM’s commission to develop the on-board computer was worth $26.6 million. It was the first computer to have a magnetic core memory so that data was not destroyed when read out. It was also IBM’s first computer to be fully transistorised. The computer proved reliable in operation. Date of manufacture: about 1964
In 1965, the Digital Equipment Corporation presented the PDP-8, thereby marking the beginning of the mini-computer era. Priced at just 18,200 Dollars, this general-purpose computer was robust enough to be used in both production and laboratory environments. Some 10,000 of them were sold within the space of 10 years; by 1975, the PDP-8 cost just 2,600 Dollars. A whole variety of manufacturers tapped into the new market, building computers based on the PDP-8 for use in process and manufacturing technology and for controlling experiments in research. By 1975, more than 30 companies in the West German market alone were selling mini-computers. Date of manufacture: 1965
In 1964, Nixdorf developed the electronics for a desk-top calculator produced by office equipment manufacturer Wanderer, later building the components itself under licence. The “Wanderer Conti” was presented to the public for the first time in 1965 at the Hanover Trade Fair. It was the world’s first fully electronic desk-top calculator with printing output. In terms of design, the four-species calculator was a bona fide computer, boasting an arithmetic unit, a magnetic core memory, a printer and a threaded read-only memory (ROM). The Conti enabled Nixdorf to gain a foothold in the US market when the Chicago-based Victor Comptometer Corporation placed an order worth DM 100 million for the machine in 1968. Date of manufacture: 1966
The Olivetti Valentine is a mechanical typewriter that stands out largely by virtue of its unconventional appearance. It is regarded as a milestone in industrial design and is a sought-after collector’s item. Date of manufacture: early 1970s
The great success enjoyed by Nixdorf at the end of the 1960s and start of the 1970s was based largely on the computers of the 820 series. These were universal computers for companies of all sizes and could be used for almost any application area thanks to their modular construction and consistent application of the modular design system. Date of manufacture: 1974
Canon Canola Pocketronic, Sanyo ICC-82D, Sharp EL-8: The first battery-operated electronic pocket calculators were brought out virtually simultaneously in 1970 by Japanese firms Sanyo, Sharp and Canon. However, the "heart" of these first pocket calculators – the microchip – was produced by US companies such as Texas Instruments and Rockwell. Texas Instruments had developed the first portable prototype as early as 1967. But the Cal-Tech, as it was known, was merely supposed to demonstrate the power of the new chip and never went into series production. The huge sales potential of the pocket calculator had yet to be recognised, especially since it was still too expensive to produce. It was for this reason that Texas Instruments sold the technical design of the Cal-Tech to Canon, and only brought out its own pocket calculator in 1972. Date of manufacture: 1970
The Odyssey console laid the foundations for the video game era. In 1966 Ralph Baer, a US engineer of German descent, filed a patent for a kind of ping-pong game. This was ultimately granted in 1968. It was not until 1972 that the game was distributed with a gaming console by Magnavox. Poor marketing meant that although the video game wasn’t a commercial flop, it wasn’t a resounding financial success either. Date of manufacture: 1972
The HP-35 was the world's first scientific pocket calculator. Before it came along, slide rules and logarithm tables were required for trigonometric and exponential functions. Pocket calculators were only capable of the four basic arithmetic operations. The price for an HP-35 in 1972 was about DM 2,000. Date of manufacture: 1972
In 1970, the photocopier company Xerox founded a research centre in Palo Alto known as PARC. This is where the Xerox Alto was developed, a forerunner of much of the PC technology taken for granted today. The Alto had a graphical user interface and a mouse, and was the model on which first the Macintosh, then Windows were based. It was also fully network-capable: the Ethernet was another Xerox PARC invention. Many Alto system engineers later worked on the Apple Macintosh. Only around 1,000 examples of the Alto were built; it was a prototype and was never launched on the market. Date of manufacture: 1973
The January 1975 issue of the magazine Popular Electronics featured the forerunner of the first personal computer, the Altair 8800, which had been designed by Ed Roberts and his company MITS. It was available as a kit for 397 US dollars, making it the first computer that ordinary consumers could afford and marking the advent of widespread PC use. Incidentally, the Altair's name comes from a TV series. The twelve-year-old daughter of editor Les Solomon said: “Call it Altair. That's where the Enterprise is heading tonight.“ Date of manufacture: 1975
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple on 1 April 1976. Soon afterwards, they presented their first computer: the Apple I. A total of only 200 Apple I computers were made. Jobs and Wozniak built it in Jobs's parents' garage in Los Altos, California and sold it for $666. The Apple I was actually just a circuit board. Users had to make their own housing for it and add input and output devices themselves. There are still around 70 Apple I computers in existence worldwide. Date of manufacture: 1976
The Apple II was the first “personal“ desktop computer to achieve commercial success. In contrast to the Apple I, the main board was supplied in a plastic housing together with a keyboard, a monitor and software.  The Apple Writer word processor and VisiCalc spreadsheet software were key to its success. The Apple II marked the start of Apple's rise to become the world's most successful company. Date of manufacture: 1977
The computer centre from the Sachsenwerk in Dresden is part of a system that was only shut down in 1993. It played a role in GDR computer history and a part in the success story of a major computer system. The Einheitliches System Elektronischer Rechenanlagen (standardized system of electronic computers) is the functional replica of an IBM computer: ESER 1055 is compatible with the 370/155 in terms of hardware and software alike. These computer systems were built until well into the 1980s. Date of manufacture: about 1979
Whenever computers were mentioned in the 1960s and 1970s, IBM was the name on everyone's lips. Despite this, the manufacturing giant was so slow to react that it almost missed out on the personal computer revolution, eventually launching its own PC 5150 in August 1981. The device proved an immediate hit, becoming an office mainstay. After all, it was a product of THE computer company, a fact which engendered trust among businesses that had not had any faith in the models available on the market thus far. The IBM PC, which ran with Microsoft's DOS operating system, provided the industry standard that had been lacking for so long. Date of manufacture: 1984
When Adam Osborne founded his computer firm, he was already well-known on the burgeoning home-computer scene thanks to numerous books and articles he had published. Although others before him had toyed with the idea of building a portable computer, his model, the Osborne 1, was the first on the market. Compared with today’s laptops, the Osborne 1 was extremely heavy and unwieldy. Despite this drawback, it proved a big success and almost became a cult object. Unfortunately, Osborne’s company went bankrupt in 1983. Date of manufacture: 1983
Commodore presented the C64 in 1982. Two years after its launch, four million units had already been sold, breaking all previous records for computer sales. Ultimately, a total of over 20 million C64 computers were sold throughout the world. The C64 was sometimes referred to as the “breadbox“ or even the “neck rest“ due to its shape. Date of manufacture: 1982
Motorola launched the first commercial mobile phone in 1983: the Dynatac 8000X. This bulky forebear of today's mobile phones weighed almost 750 grams and cost around $400. Date of manufacture: 1983
Apple launched the Macintosh on 24 January 1984. The Mac broke with all the previously accepted notions about PCs. When Jef Raskin, the father of the Mac, proposed the project in 1979, his idea was to design a computer that was geared to people. The Mac enabled normal users to become acquainted with the graphical user interface featuring desktop, mouse and windows. All they had to do beforehand was to unpack it and plug it in. Although the Mac lost out to the IBM PCs in the office environment, it revolutionised the entire graphic design industry. Date of manufacture: 1984
The Cray-2 was the fastest computer in the world in 1985. It weighed 2.5 tonnes. It was supplied as a supercomputer with up to four processors, a peak performance of 2 GFLOPS, 2 GB of memory and a maximum clock speed of 4.1 ns. It is notable for its striking design. A total of 27 units were sold. Date of manufacture: 1985
The Nintendo Game Boy proved to be one of the most successful products in the company’s history. The hand-held video game device was launched on the market in a plain grey-and-white version in 1989. Its robust technology, ease of operation and low battery consumption all helped to make it the biggest-selling console of the time. Although the Game Boy was initially only available with the game Tetris, strangely enough this became part of its appeal: it wasn’t just for hard-core players, but for everyone. The Game Boy was manufactured until 2002 and 120 million devices were sold in all. Date of manufacture: about 1990
The Newton was Apple’s attempt to create a revolutionary new device. A feature of the PDA (Private Digital Assistant) was handwriting recognition software; the device also came with a stylus which was supposed to make entering text child’s play. The touch-sensitive screen would detect characters and words automatically as they were written. However, this feature never really worked properly at market launch, something which gave rise to less than glowing reviews in the press. The project was halted in 1998 when company founder Steve Jobs re-joined the company. Date of manufacture: 1993
Robot soccer represents a major challenge for researchers in the field of artificial intelligence. A proving ground for the state of science in this field, it is also a means of promoting university-level education. Since 1997, international RoboCup matches featuring research teams from all over the world have been held in various leagues. This model – a third-generation, Middle Size League robot – belongs to the Fraunhofer Institut. Each robot has its own sensors and can make decisions completely autonomously. The robots can, however, communicate wirelessly with one another and with a computer. Date of manufacture: 1999
The robot dog AIBO was perhaps the most technically sophisticated toy ever to be created by its Japanese manufacturer Sony: the battery-operated dog came with 18 electrically controlled joints, microphones, loudspeakers, emotion display, 64-bit processor and a balance system to enable it to stand up. Date of manufacture: 1999
Lauron stands for “LAUfROboter Neuronal gesteuert” (English: “Walking Robot, Neural Controlled”). The walking robot (the 3rd generation of which is on show) was developed in order to research statically stable walking in rough terrain. Its movements are biologically inspired, mimicking those of a stick insect. Each leg can respond semi-autonomously to impulses; the movements are coordinated at a higher level. Lauron is able to gather information about its environment and plan a path towards a given goal autonomously. While walking, the robot uses sensors to detect potential obstacles and then either walks over or around them. Date of manufacture: 1999
Using a camera, this 2nd-generation face robot scans the viewer’s facial expression, which is then recognised and interpreted by software based on a neural net. From a repertoire of pre-programmed responses, the robot’s mechanism is activated and a matching facial expression is generated. The mechanical and electronic parts of the Mark II were covered by a silicone skin to create a robot face that looks as human as possible. Fumio Hara, Science University of Tokyo, Japan, 2001
RoboThespian is a life-sized humanoid robot designed for human interaction in public environments. It can sing as well as tell jokes and recite text passages. Visitors can choose from a selection of programmed text sequences for the metallic creation to read out, accompanied by a range of gestures. Date of manufacture: 2011
The earliest documents written on clay tablets in cuneiform script were used for tax and accounting purposes. Records were kept of the bread rations paid to workers, for example. The precise history is not known. About 2350-2100 BC
Wilhelm Schickard wanted to “mechanise” the laborious and error-prone task of calculating astronomical tables. In 1623 he had two calculating machines built to his specifications in a mechanic’s workshop in Tübingen – one for himself, the other for Johannes Kepler. The practical benefits of his “calculating clock” appeared somewhat dubious at the time, as the system based on logarithmic tables was superior. Regrettably, both machines were destroyed in a fire at the workshop and the invention was forgotten. This reconstruction of the machine by Baron von Freytag Löringhoff was completed in 1957. Date of manufacture: 1957
In 1678, French watchmaker René Grillet presented the “Machine arithmétique” which was capable of carrying out all four basic arithmetic operations. Constructed largely out of paper, the invention used so-called Napier’s rods that had been around since 1617 for the calculation process. It is an excellent example of the early days of mechanical calculation and an ancestor of today’s pocket calculator. Date of manufacture: 1678
This calculating machine, invented by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, was built in the years from 1690 to 1720. It represents a historic milestone in the development of mechanical calculating machines because it was the first to perform all four arithmetic operations. Leibniz's operating mechanism, known as the stepped cylinder or Leibniz wheel, allowed multiplication to be performed mechanically and remained an indispensable component of mechanical calculators for over 200 years. Functioning replica of the only remaining original (at the Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek in Hanover), built to plans by N. Joachim Lehmann. HNF replica: 1995
The device popularly known as the “Chess Turk“ was built in 1769 by Austrian court official Wolfgang von Kempelen in such a way as to convince spectators that they were watching an “automated chess player“. In fact an individual of quite normal size sat inside and controlled the gripper arm with the aid of levers and cable winches. Magnetised chess pieces and small magnetic pins on the underside of the board enabled the moves to be followed by the person within. Functional HNF replica: 2004
An Arithmometer is a mechanical calculating machine invented by the Frenchman Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar (1785-1870). It was the world's first calculating machine to go into series production. As well as addition and subtraction, it could perform multiplication and division by means of repeated addition and subtraction. This luxury version of the calculating machine was a gift to the king of Portugal. Date of manufacture: about 1855
The Hansen Writing Ball was the world's first typewriter to be produced commercially, albeit in small batches. It was developed in 1865 by Rasmus Johann Malling-Hansen, a Danish pastor and teacher of deaf-mutes. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a well-known user. Date of manufacture: about 1878
The name Morse and the code of the same name became synonymous with telegraphy. His procedure for transmitting text information via a series of pulses (dots and dashes) and the silences between them helped the technology achieve a breakthrough. The most important components of the Ericsson Morse Telegraph Type TA 100 for receiving messages (“sounder”) are an electromagnet, an armature, a mechanical clockwork to move the paper tape, a coloured stylus and a roll of paper. A Morse key is required to transmit messages. Date of manufacture: about 1880
In 1883, Englishman Joseph Edmondson obtained a patent for a circular calculating machine based on the stepped-drum mechanism. His design was based on Thomas de Colmar’s simple “arithmomètre”. The advantage of Edmondson’s machine was that it was not limited to a certain number of decimal places if a division produced a remainder. Date of manufacture: about 1885
This machine is a replica of the first Hollerith machine that was used so successfully to complete the first census in the USA thanks to the use of punched cards. It provided a much faster way of counting the vast amount of data gathered. The Hollerith machine consists of two hinged plates, a switch panel with relays, a counting device with 40 counters and a sorting box. When one of the pins on the plates meets a hole in the punched card, a circuit is completed and an electric pulse causes the pointer of a counter to advance accordingly. The respective compartment of the sorting box is also opened, and the operator can place the analysed punched card into it by hand. Functional HNF replica: 2006
The comptometer was the first exclusively key-driven mechanical calculator. The “wooden box” was a precursor to the full-keyboard adding machines built between 1886 and 1904. According to its manufacturer’s promotional material, it was the world’s first adding machine with a practical application. Date of manufacture: about 1900
The Underwood No. 5, which appeared in 1900, was the first classic modern typewriter (with visible text, upper- and lower-case letters and tab stops). It set the standard for all subsequent typewriters worldwide until they were superseded first by IBM electric typewriters, which used a type ball instead of type bars, and then by PCs. Date of manufacture: 1915
This extremely compact table-top telephone with a quirky design was also known as the “Pferdefuss” or “horse’s hoof” in Bavaria due to its shape. It was the approved standard dialling apparatus only in Bavaria. Incidentally, the device was referred to as the “cow’s hoof” in Prussia. Date of manufacture: from 1925 onwards
In 1879 the Ritty brothers filed a patent application for the first cash register in the USA. Businessman John H. Patterson acquired the rights to manufacture cash registers in 1884 and founded the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio. The NCR 400 series models were among the standard cash registers in use at the time. They were favoured by retail outlets because of their robust nature. Model 422 has five rows of keys and features 42 keys in all. The indicators are in English and show sums of pounds and pence. Date of manufacture: 1910
The Kryha Liliput is a very rare cipher machine in pocket-watch format. The machine consisted of two concentric rings, each featuring an alphabet and numbers. The user would operate it by pushing a lever to step the inner ring a random number of places against the outer ring, thereby changing the relationship between the two. Although Kryha’s devices were a commercial success, they were cryptographically weak as the period lengths of the codes were generally quite short. The Kryha Liliput was cryptographically compatible with its “big sister”, the Kryha Standard. Date of manufacture: about 1926
The legendary Enigma cipher machine was developed in the early 1920s by the German engineer Artur Scherbius in Berlin and initially marketed for commercial purposes. The machine has three rotors, each of which performs an alphabetic substitution cipher. By combining the rotors in series and using a plugboard with variable wiring, very complex scrambling of the message can be achieved. Date of manufacture: about 1942
The T52 e was a World War II German cipher machine and teleprinter. Due to its size and weight, however, it was only ever used as a stationary device. Unlike the Enigma, messages were encrypted and deciphered automatically. On 20 July 1944, the resistance group led by Claus von Stauffenberg used the device to issue encrypted commands for Operation Valkyrie, the plot to assassinate Hitler. Date of manufacture: 1942
The first functioning electronic computer consisted of 40 panels with almost 18,000 vacuum tubes. J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly were commissioned to construct a vacuum-tube computer by the US Army in 1943. ENIAC, which was 1,000 times faster than other calculating machines, was developed by the young scientists at the Moore School of Electronics in Philadelphia. It required just eight hours to perform calculations that had previously taken an entire year. The high processing capacity was needed by the US Army to calculate artillery firing tables. Mauchly wanted to use ENIAC’s speed to produce more accurate weather forecasts, which is why its inventors built a “universal machine“. Date of manufacture: 1946
The history of IBM in Germany dates back to 1910, with the founding of DEHOMAG (Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH) in Berlin. The company was renamed IBM Deutschland GmbH in 1949, when it relocated to Böblingen. The D 11 tabulator, which was manufactured from 1935 onwards, was the first German machine of its kind. Used for punched card analysis, its ability to read, count, compute and print cards made it the mainstay of many so-called Hollerith departments. The machine proved a milestone in the development of punched card technology: It was on sale until 1960, latterly as the IBM D11 Type 450. Around 1,100 D 11 models were sold in all. Date of manufacture: between 1949 and 1960
In the early days of telephony, calls were connected manually by a switchboard operator . The next stage of development saw the introduction of automatic telephone exchanges which dispensed with the need for human intervention. A local telephone exchange establishes connections between the subscribers of a local network. In this case, an analogue electrical signal is switched via electromechanical components. If the first digit dialled by the subscriber is a zero, he or she is put through to the trunk or long-distance exchange. The electromechanical system exhibited here was in use in Hagen-Eilpe until 1994, when it was replaced by a digital switching system.
The W48 desktop telephone was developed for the Deutsche Bundespost by Siemens & Halske in 1948 in the western zone of occupied Germany and produced in very large quantities. Date of manufacture: 1954
This is the first computer developed by Heinz Nixdorf. He started work in July 1952 and it took him 15 months to complete. The electronic balancer is equipped with vacuum tubes. It is a one-off machine built especially for materials management at Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), where it supplemented the work of a Remington Rand tabulating machine, whose mechanical mode of operation was no match for the much faster Nixdorf electronics. Date of manufacture: 1953
The accounting machine Exacta-Continental 6000 was the ultimate in electromechanical office equipment: it could manage all accounting tasks with ease. It came with an optional Multitronic electronic multiplication unit manufactured by Heinz Nixdorf’s Labor für Impulstechnik, which signalled the beginning of a new data processing era from 1958 onwards. Date of manufacture: about 1958
The Zuse Z 11 was the first programmable relay computer from ZUSE KG to go into series production. It was used for mathematical calculations, its hard-wired programs having been designed for surveying tasks in particular. The last in a development series of electro-mechanically controlled computer systems, it contained relays as binary switching elements. These may have been slower than vacuum tubes, but were also more reliable, more durable and less expensive. Date of manufacture: 1958
The Curta is the only mechanical pocket calculator that is capable of performing all four basic arithmetic operations. The inventor of this precision-engineered masterpiece was an Austrian, Curt Herzstark (1902-1988). Date of manufacture: about 1965
The Anita was the first all-electronic, tube-based desktop calculator. Not only was it completely silent, but it operated much faster than mechanical machines, and was maintenance-free too. However, tubes were not an optimum technical solution for desktop calculators as they used a lot of electricity, were relatively susceptible to breakage and were expensive to produce. For this reason, this technology remained unique to the Anita. Mass production of such devices only became an option once transistors started to be used from around 1964 onwards. Date of manufacture: 1961
The linotype machine was a “line casting” machine used in printing. It replaced the extremely time-consuming manual type-setting process. The machine, which was patented in 1886, mechanised the setting and casting of letters. The setter entered text at a keyboard: every time a key was pressed, a matrix of the chosen letter fell into position from a magazine. The assembled line of matrices was cast as a single piece of type metal and filled with liquid lead once the spaces between words had been automatically adjusted. After cooling, this produced “A LINE OF TYPES”. Date of manufacture: 1962
At the start of the 1950s, VEB Optima Büromaschinenwerk Erfurt was asked to develop a typewriter for China as part of e socialist initiative to support allied nations. The Erfurt manufacturers based their design on the box-type typewriter first sold in 1917 by Nippon Typewriter Co. Ltd. in Tokyo. The “Chinese Optima” made its début in 1953. Subsequently, the Chinese bicycle factory “Flying Dove” took over production of the device, two versions of which were produced in China under the “Flying Dove” brand until the end of 1992. Date of manufacture: 1992
This computer originated from the Gemini II mission; it featured in an unmanned space flight on 19.01.1965. The Mercury and Gemini space programmes laid the groundwork for the moon landing. From 1963 onwards, the Gemini missions tested orbital coupling manoeuvres necessary to achieve rendezvous and docking. Safe, accurate manoeuvring was only possible with the aid of a computer. IBM’s commission to develop the on-board computer was worth $26.6 million. It was the first computer to have a magnetic core memory so that data was not destroyed when read out. It was also IBM’s first computer to be fully transistorised. The computer proved reliable in operation. Date of manufacture: about 1964
In 1965, the Digital Equipment Corporation presented the PDP-8, thereby marking the beginning of the mini-computer era. Priced at just 18,200 Dollars, this general-purpose computer was robust enough to be used in both production and laboratory environments. Some 10,000 of them were sold within the space of 10 years; by 1975, the PDP-8 cost just 2,600 Dollars. A whole variety of manufacturers tapped into the new market, building computers based on the PDP-8 for use in process and manufacturing technology and for controlling experiments in research. By 1975, more than 30 companies in the West German market alone were selling mini-computers. Date of manufacture: 1965
In 1964, Nixdorf developed the electronics for a desk-top calculator produced by office equipment manufacturer Wanderer, later building the components itself under licence. The “Wanderer Conti” was presented to the public for the first time in 1965 at the Hanover Trade Fair. It was the world’s first fully electronic desk-top calculator with printing output. In terms of design, the four-species calculator was a bona fide computer, boasting an arithmetic unit, a magnetic core memory, a printer and a threaded read-only memory (ROM). The Conti enabled Nixdorf to gain a foothold in the US market when the Chicago-based Victor Comptometer Corporation placed an order worth DM 100 million for the machine in 1968. Date of manufacture: 1966
The Olivetti Valentine is a mechanical typewriter that stands out largely by virtue of its unconventional appearance. It is regarded as a milestone in industrial design and is a sought-after collector’s item. Date of manufacture: early 1970s
The great success enjoyed by Nixdorf at the end of the 1960s and start of the 1970s was based largely on the computers of the 820 series. These were universal computers for companies of all sizes and could be used for almost any application area thanks to their modular construction and consistent application of the modular design system. Date of manufacture: 1974
Canon Canola Pocketronic, Sanyo ICC-82D, Sharp EL-8: The first battery-operated electronic pocket calculators were brought out virtually simultaneously in 1970 by Japanese firms Sanyo, Sharp and Canon. However, the "heart" of these first pocket calculators – the microchip – was produced by US companies such as Texas Instruments and Rockwell. Texas Instruments had developed the first portable prototype as early as 1967. But the Cal-Tech, as it was known, was merely supposed to demonstrate the power of the new chip and never went into series production. The huge sales potential of the pocket calculator had yet to be recognised, especially since it was still too expensive to produce. It was for this reason that Texas Instruments sold the technical design of the Cal-Tech to Canon, and only brought out its own pocket calculator in 1972. Date of manufacture: 1970
The Odyssey console laid the foundations for the video game era. In 1966 Ralph Baer, a US engineer of German descent, filed a patent for a kind of ping-pong game. This was ultimately granted in 1968. It was not until 1972 that the game was distributed with a gaming console by Magnavox. Poor marketing meant that although the video game wasn’t a commercial flop, it wasn’t a resounding financial success either. Date of manufacture: 1972
The HP-35 was the world's first scientific pocket calculator. Before it came along, slide rules and logarithm tables were required for trigonometric and exponential functions. Pocket calculators were only capable of the four basic arithmetic operations. The price for an HP-35 in 1972 was about DM 2,000. Date of manufacture: 1972
In 1970, the photocopier company Xerox founded a research centre in Palo Alto known as PARC. This is where the Xerox Alto was developed, a forerunner of much of the PC technology taken for granted today. The Alto had a graphical user interface and a mouse, and was the model on which first the Macintosh, then Windows were based. It was also fully network-capable: the Ethernet was another Xerox PARC invention. Many Alto system engineers later worked on the Apple Macintosh. Only around 1,000 examples of the Alto were built; it was a prototype and was never launched on the market. Date of manufacture: 1973
The January 1975 issue of the magazine Popular Electronics featured the forerunner of the first personal computer, the Altair 8800, which had been designed by Ed Roberts and his company MITS. It was available as a kit for 397 US dollars, making it the first computer that ordinary consumers could afford and marking the advent of widespread PC use. Incidentally, the Altair's name comes from a TV series. The twelve-year-old daughter of editor Les Solomon said: “Call it Altair. That's where the Enterprise is heading tonight.“ Date of manufacture: 1975
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple on 1 April 1976. Soon afterwards, they presented their first computer: the Apple I. A total of only 200 Apple I computers were made. Jobs and Wozniak built it in Jobs's parents' garage in Los Altos, California and sold it for $666. The Apple I was actually just a circuit board. Users had to make their own housing for it and add input and output devices themselves. There are still around 70 Apple I computers in existence worldwide. Date of manufacture: 1976
The Apple II was the first “personal“ desktop computer to achieve commercial success. In contrast to the Apple I, the main board was supplied in a plastic housing together with a keyboard, a monitor and software.  The Apple Writer word processor and VisiCalc spreadsheet software were key to its success. The Apple II marked the start of Apple's rise to become the world's most successful company. Date of manufacture: 1977
The computer centre from the Sachsenwerk in Dresden is part of a system that was only shut down in 1993. It played a role in GDR computer history and a part in the success story of a major computer system. The Einheitliches System Elektronischer Rechenanlagen (standardized system of electronic computers) is the functional replica of an IBM computer: ESER 1055 is compatible with the 370/155 in terms of hardware and software alike. These computer systems were built until well into the 1980s. Date of manufacture: about 1979
Whenever computers were mentioned in the 1960s and 1970s, IBM was the name on everyone's lips. Despite this, the manufacturing giant was so slow to react that it almost missed out on the personal computer revolution, eventually launching its own PC 5150 in August 1981. The device proved an immediate hit, becoming an office mainstay. After all, it was a product of THE computer company, a fact which engendered trust among businesses that had not had any faith in the models available on the market thus far. The IBM PC, which ran with Microsoft's DOS operating system, provided the industry standard that had been lacking for so long. Date of manufacture: 1984
When Adam Osborne founded his computer firm, he was already well-known on the burgeoning home-computer scene thanks to numerous books and articles he had published. Although others before him had toyed with the idea of building a portable computer, his model, the Osborne 1, was the first on the market. Compared with today’s laptops, the Osborne 1 was extremely heavy and unwieldy. Despite this drawback, it proved a big success and almost became a cult object. Unfortunately, Osborne’s company went bankrupt in 1983. Date of manufacture: 1983
Commodore presented the C64 in 1982. Two years after its launch, four million units had already been sold, breaking all previous records for computer sales. Ultimately, a total of over 20 million C64 computers were sold throughout the world. The C64 was sometimes referred to as the “breadbox“ or even the “neck rest“ due to its shape. Date of manufacture: 1982
Motorola launched the first commercial mobile phone in 1983: the Dynatac 8000X. This bulky forebear of today's mobile phones weighed almost 750 grams and cost around $400. Date of manufacture: 1983
Apple launched the Macintosh on 24 January 1984. The Mac broke with all the previously accepted notions about PCs. When Jef Raskin, the father of the Mac, proposed the project in 1979, his idea was to design a computer that was geared to people. The Mac enabled normal users to become acquainted with the graphical user interface featuring desktop, mouse and windows. All they had to do beforehand was to unpack it and plug it in. Although the Mac lost out to the IBM PCs in the office environment, it revolutionised the entire graphic design industry. Date of manufacture: 1984
The Cray-2 was the fastest computer in the world in 1985. It weighed 2.5 tonnes. It was supplied as a supercomputer with up to four processors, a peak performance of 2 GFLOPS, 2 GB of memory and a maximum clock speed of 4.1 ns. It is notable for its striking design. A total of 27 units were sold. Date of manufacture: 1985
The Nintendo Game Boy proved to be one of the most successful products in the company’s history. The hand-held video game device was launched on the market in a plain grey-and-white version in 1989. Its robust technology, ease of operation and low battery consumption all helped to make it the biggest-selling console of the time. Although the Game Boy was initially only available with the game Tetris, strangely enough this became part of its appeal: it wasn’t just for hard-core players, but for everyone. The Game Boy was manufactured until 2002 and 120 million devices were sold in all. Date of manufacture: about 1990
The Newton was Apple’s attempt to create a revolutionary new device. A feature of the PDA (Private Digital Assistant) was handwriting recognition software; the device also came with a stylus which was supposed to make entering text child’s play. The touch-sensitive screen would detect characters and words automatically as they were written. However, this feature never really worked properly at market launch, something which gave rise to less than glowing reviews in the press. The project was halted in 1998 when company founder Steve Jobs re-joined the company. Date of manufacture: 1993
Robot soccer represents a major challenge for researchers in the field of artificial intelligence. A proving ground for the state of science in this field, it is also a means of promoting university-level education. Since 1997, international RoboCup matches featuring research teams from all over the world have been held in various leagues. This model – a third-generation, Middle Size League robot – belongs to the Fraunhofer Institut. Each robot has its own sensors and can make decisions completely autonomously. The robots can, however, communicate wirelessly with one another and with a computer. Date of manufacture: 1999
The robot dog AIBO was perhaps the most technically sophisticated toy ever to be created by its Japanese manufacturer Sony: the battery-operated dog came with 18 electrically controlled joints, microphones, loudspeakers, emotion display, 64-bit processor and a balance system to enable it to stand up. Date of manufacture: 1999
Lauron stands for “LAUfROboter Neuronal gesteuert” (English: “Walking Robot, Neural Controlled”). The walking robot (the 3rd generation of which is on show) was developed in order to research statically stable walking in rough terrain. Its movements are biologically inspired, mimicking those of a stick insect. Each leg can respond semi-autonomously to impulses; the movements are coordinated at a higher level. Lauron is able to gather information about its environment and plan a path towards a given goal autonomously. While walking, the robot uses sensors to detect potential obstacles and then either walks over or around them. Date of manufacture: 1999
Using a camera, this 2nd-generation face robot scans the viewer’s facial expression, which is then recognised and interpreted by software based on a neural net. From a repertoire of pre-programmed responses, the robot’s mechanism is activated and a matching facial expression is generated. The mechanical and electronic parts of the Mark II were covered by a silicone skin to create a robot face that looks as human as possible. Fumio Hara, Science University of Tokyo, Japan, 2001
RoboThespian is a life-sized humanoid robot designed for human interaction in public environments. It can sing as well as tell jokes and recite text passages. Visitors can choose from a selection of programmed text sequences for the metallic creation to read out, accompanied by a range of gestures. Date of manufacture: 2011
The earliest documents written on clay tablets in cuneiform script were used for tax and accounting purposes. Records were kept of the bread rations paid to workers, for example. The precise history is not known. About 2350-2100 BC
Wilhelm Schickard wanted to “mechanise” the laborious and error-prone task of calculating astronomical tables. In 1623 he had two calculating machines built to his specifications in a mechanic’s workshop in Tübingen – one for himself, the other for Johannes Kepler. The practical benefits of his “calculating clock” appeared somewhat dubious at the time, as the system based on logarithmic tables was superior. Regrettably, both machines were destroyed in a fire at the workshop and the invention was forgotten. This reconstruction of the machine by Baron von Freytag Löringhoff was completed in 1957. Date of manufacture: 1957
In 1678, French watchmaker René Grillet presented the “Machine arithmétique” which was capable of carrying out all four basic arithmetic operations. Constructed largely out of paper, the invention used so-called Napier’s rods that had been around since 1617 for the calculation process. It is an excellent example of the early days of mechanical calculation and an ancestor of today’s pocket calculator. Date of manufacture: 1678
This calculating machine, invented by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, was built in the years from 1690 to 1720. It represents a historic milestone in the development of mechanical calculating machines because it was the first to perform all four arithmetic operations. Leibniz's operating mechanism, known as the stepped cylinder or Leibniz wheel, allowed multiplication to be performed mechanically and remained an indispensable component of mechanical calculators for over 200 years. Functioning replica of the only remaining original (at the Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek in Hanover), built to plans by N. Joachim Lehmann. HNF replica: 1995
The device popularly known as the “Chess Turk“ was built in 1769 by Austrian court official Wolfgang von Kempelen in such a way as to convince spectators that they were watching an “automated chess player“. In fact an individual of quite normal size sat inside and controlled the gripper arm with the aid of levers and cable winches. Magnetised chess pieces and small magnetic pins on the underside of the board enabled the moves to be followed by the person within. Functional HNF replica: 2004
An Arithmometer is a mechanical calculating machine invented by the Frenchman Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar (1785-1870). It was the world's first calculating machine to go into series production. As well as addition and subtraction, it could perform multiplication and division by means of repeated addition and subtraction. This luxury version of the calculating machine was a gift to the king of Portugal. Date of manufacture: about 1855
The Hansen Writing Ball was the world's first typewriter to be produced commercially, albeit in small batches. It was developed in 1865 by Rasmus Johann Malling-Hansen, a Danish pastor and teacher of deaf-mutes. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a well-known user. Date of manufacture: about 1878
The name Morse and the code of the same name became synonymous with telegraphy. His procedure for transmitting text information via a series of pulses (dots and dashes) and the silences between them helped the technology achieve a breakthrough. The most important components of the Ericsson Morse Telegraph Type TA 100 for receiving messages (“sounder”) are an electromagnet, an armature, a mechanical clockwork to move the paper tape, a coloured stylus and a roll of paper. A Morse key is required to transmit messages. Date of manufacture: about 1880
In 1883, Englishman Joseph Edmondson obtained a patent for a circular calculating machine based on the stepped-drum mechanism. His design was based on Thomas de Colmar’s simple “arithmomètre”. The advantage of Edmondson’s machine was that it was not limited to a certain number of decimal places if a division produced a remainder. Date of manufacture: about 1885
This machine is a replica of the first Hollerith machine that was used so successfully to complete the first census in the USA thanks to the use of punched cards. It provided a much faster way of counting the vast amount of data gathered. The Hollerith machine consists of two hinged plates, a switch panel with relays, a counting device with 40 counters and a sorting box. When one of the pins on the plates meets a hole in the punched card, a circuit is completed and an electric pulse causes the pointer of a counter to advance accordingly. The respective compartment of the sorting box is also opened, and the operator can place the analysed punched card into it by hand. Functional HNF replica: 2006
The comptometer was the first exclusively key-driven mechanical calculator. The “wooden box” was a precursor to the full-keyboard adding machines built between 1886 and 1904. According to its manufacturer’s promotional material, it was the world’s first adding machine with a practical application. Date of manufacture: about 1900
The Underwood No. 5, which appeared in 1900, was the first classic modern typewriter (with visible text, upper- and lower-case letters and tab stops). It set the standard for all subsequent typewriters worldwide until they were superseded first by IBM electric typewriters, which used a type ball instead of type bars, and then by PCs. Date of manufacture: 1915
This extremely compact table-top telephone with a quirky design was also known as the “Pferdefuss” or “horse’s hoof” in Bavaria due to its shape. It was the approved standard dialling apparatus only in Bavaria. Incidentally, the device was referred to as the “cow’s hoof” in Prussia. Date of manufacture: from 1925 onwards
In 1879 the Ritty brothers filed a patent application for the first cash register in the USA. Businessman John H. Patterson acquired the rights to manufacture cash registers in 1884 and founded the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio. The NCR 400 series models were among the standard cash registers in use at the time. They were favoured by retail outlets because of their robust nature. Model 422 has five rows of keys and features 42 keys in all. The indicators are in English and show sums of pounds and pence. Date of manufacture: 1910
The Kryha Liliput is a very rare cipher machine in pocket-watch format. The machine consisted of two concentric rings, each featuring an alphabet and numbers. The user would operate it by pushing a lever to step the inner ring a random number of places against the outer ring, thereby changing the relationship between the two. Although Kryha’s devices were a commercial success, they were cryptographically weak as the period lengths of the codes were generally quite short. The Kryha Liliput was cryptographically compatible with its “big sister”, the Kryha Standard. Date of manufacture: about 1926
The legendary Enigma cipher machine was developed in the early 1920s by the German engineer Artur Scherbius in Berlin and initially marketed for commercial purposes. The machine has three rotors, each of which performs an alphabetic substitution cipher. By combining the rotors in series and using a plugboard with variable wiring, very complex scrambling of the message can be achieved. Date of manufacture: about 1942
The T52 e was a World War II German cipher machine and teleprinter. Due to its size and weight, however, it was only ever used as a stationary device. Unlike the Enigma, messages were encrypted and deciphered automatically. On 20 July 1944, the resistance group led by Claus von Stauffenberg used the device to issue encrypted commands for Operation Valkyrie, the plot to assassinate Hitler. Date of manufacture: 1942
The first functioning electronic computer consisted of 40 panels with almost 18,000 vacuum tubes. J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly were commissioned to construct a vacuum-tube computer by the US Army in 1943. ENIAC, which was 1,000 times faster than other calculating machines, was developed by the young scientists at the Moore School of Electronics in Philadelphia. It required just eight hours to perform calculations that had previously taken an entire year. The high processing capacity was needed by the US Army to calculate artillery firing tables. Mauchly wanted to use ENIAC’s speed to produce more accurate weather forecasts, which is why its inventors built a “universal machine“. Date of manufacture: 1946
The history of IBM in Germany dates back to 1910, with the founding of DEHOMAG (Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH) in Berlin. The company was renamed IBM Deutschland GmbH in 1949, when it relocated to Böblingen. The D 11 tabulator, which was manufactured from 1935 onwards, was the first German machine of its kind. Used for punched card analysis, its ability to read, count, compute and print cards made it the mainstay of many so-called Hollerith departments. The machine proved a milestone in the development of punched card technology: It was on sale until 1960, latterly as the IBM D11 Type 450. Around 1,100 D 11 models were sold in all. Date of manufacture: between 1949 and 1960
In the early days of telephony, calls were connected manually by a switchboard operator . The next stage of development saw the introduction of automatic telephone exchanges which dispensed with the need for human intervention. A local telephone exchange establishes connections between the subscribers of a local network. In this case, an analogue electrical signal is switched via electromechanical components. If the first digit dialled by the subscriber is a zero, he or she is put through to the trunk or long-distance exchange. The electromechanical system exhibited here was in use in Hagen-Eilpe until 1994, when it was replaced by a digital switching system.
The W48 desktop telephone was developed for the Deutsche Bundespost by Siemens & Halske in 1948 in the western zone of occupied Germany and produced in very large quantities. Date of manufacture: 1954
This is the first computer developed by Heinz Nixdorf. He started work in July 1952 and it took him 15 months to complete. The electronic balancer is equipped with vacuum tubes. It is a one-off machine built especially for materials management at Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), where it supplemented the work of a Remington Rand tabulating machine, whose mechanical mode of operation was no match for the much faster Nixdorf electronics. Date of manufacture: 1953
The accounting machine Exacta-Continental 6000 was the ultimate in electromechanical office equipment: it could manage all accounting tasks with ease. It came with an optional Multitronic electronic multiplication unit manufactured by Heinz Nixdorf’s Labor für Impulstechnik, which signalled the beginning of a new data processing era from 1958 onwards. Date of manufacture: about 1958
The Zuse Z 11 was the first programmable relay computer from ZUSE KG to go into series production. It was used for mathematical calculations, its hard-wired programs having been designed for surveying tasks in particular. The last in a development series of electro-mechanically controlled computer systems, it contained relays as binary switching elements. These may have been slower than vacuum tubes, but were also more reliable, more durable and less expensive. Date of manufacture: 1958
The Curta is the only mechanical pocket calculator that is capable of performing all four basic arithmetic operations. The inventor of this precision-engineered masterpiece was an Austrian, Curt Herzstark (1902-1988). Date of manufacture: about 1965
The Anita was the first all-electronic, tube-based desktop calculator. Not only was it completely silent, but it operated much faster than mechanical machines, and was maintenance-free too. However, tubes were not an optimum technical solution for desktop calculators as they used a lot of electricity, were relatively susceptible to breakage and were expensive to produce. For this reason, this technology remained unique to the Anita. Mass production of such devices only became an option once transistors started to be used from around 1964 onwards. Date of manufacture: 1961
The linotype machine was a “line casting” machine used in printing. It replaced the extremely time-consuming manual type-setting process. The machine, which was patented in 1886, mechanised the setting and casting of letters. The setter entered text at a keyboard: every time a key was pressed, a matrix of the chosen letter fell into position from a magazine. The assembled line of matrices was cast as a single piece of type metal and filled with liquid lead once the spaces between words had been automatically adjusted. After cooling, this produced “A LINE OF TYPES”. Date of manufacture: 1962
At the start of the 1950s, VEB Optima Büromaschinenwerk Erfurt was asked to develop a typewriter for China as part of e socialist initiative to support allied nations. The Erfurt manufacturers based their design on the box-type typewriter first sold in 1917 by Nippon Typewriter Co. Ltd. in Tokyo. The “Chinese Optima” made its début in 1953. Subsequently, the Chinese bicycle factory “Flying Dove” took over production of the device, two versions of which were produced in China under the “Flying Dove” brand until the end of 1992. Date of manufacture: 1992
This computer originated from the Gemini II mission; it featured in an unmanned space flight on 19.01.1965. The Mercury and Gemini space programmes laid the groundwork for the moon landing. From 1963 onwards, the Gemini missions tested orbital coupling manoeuvres necessary to achieve rendezvous and docking. Safe, accurate manoeuvring was only possible with the aid of a computer. IBM’s commission to develop the on-board computer was worth $26.6 million. It was the first computer to have a magnetic core memory so that data was not destroyed when read out. It was also IBM’s first computer to be fully transistorised. The computer proved reliable in operation. Date of manufacture: about 1964
In 1965, the Digital Equipment Corporation presented the PDP-8, thereby marking the beginning of the mini-computer era. Priced at just 18,200 Dollars, this general-purpose computer was robust enough to be used in both production and laboratory environments. Some 10,000 of them were sold within the space of 10 years; by 1975, the PDP-8 cost just 2,600 Dollars. A whole variety of manufacturers tapped into the new market, building computers based on the PDP-8 for use in process and manufacturing technology and for controlling experiments in research. By 1975, more than 30 companies in the West German market alone were selling mini-computers. Date of manufacture: 1965
In 1964, Nixdorf developed the electronics for a desk-top calculator produced by office equipment manufacturer Wanderer, later building the components itself under licence. The “Wanderer Conti” was presented to the public for the first time in 1965 at the Hanover Trade Fair. It was the world’s first fully electronic desk-top calculator with printing output. In terms of design, the four-species calculator was a bona fide computer, boasting an arithmetic unit, a magnetic core memory, a printer and a threaded read-only memory (ROM). The Conti enabled Nixdorf to gain a foothold in the US market when the Chicago-based Victor Comptometer Corporation placed an order worth DM 100 million for the machine in 1968. Date of manufacture: 1966
The Olivetti Valentine is a mechanical typewriter that stands out largely by virtue of its unconventional appearance. It is regarded as a milestone in industrial design and is a sought-after collector’s item. Date of manufacture: early 1970s
The great success enjoyed by Nixdorf at the end of the 1960s and start of the 1970s was based largely on the computers of the 820 series. These were universal computers for companies of all sizes and could be used for almost any application area thanks to their modular construction and consistent application of the modular design system. Date of manufacture: 1974
Canon Canola Pocketronic, Sanyo ICC-82D, Sharp EL-8: The first battery-operated electronic pocket calculators were brought out virtually simultaneously in 1970 by Japanese firms Sanyo, Sharp and Canon. However, the "heart" of these first pocket calculators – the microchip – was produced by US companies such as Texas Instruments and Rockwell. Texas Instruments had developed the first portable prototype as early as 1967. But the Cal-Tech, as it was known, was merely supposed to demonstrate the power of the new chip and never went into series production. The huge sales potential of the pocket calculator had yet to be recognised, especially since it was still too expensive to produce. It was for this reason that Texas Instruments sold the technical design of the Cal-Tech to Canon, and only brought out its own pocket calculator in 1972. Date of manufacture: 1970
The Odyssey console laid the foundations for the video game era. In 1966 Ralph Baer, a US engineer of German descent, filed a patent for a kind of ping-pong game. This was ultimately granted in 1968. It was not until 1972 that the game was distributed with a gaming console by Magnavox. Poor marketing meant that although the video game wasn’t a commercial flop, it wasn’t a resounding financial success either. Date of manufacture: 1972
The HP-35 was the world's first scientific pocket calculator. Before it came along, slide rules and logarithm tables were required for trigonometric and exponential functions. Pocket calculators were only capable of the four basic arithmetic operations. The price for an HP-35 in 1972 was about DM 2,000. Date of manufacture: 1972
In 1970, the photocopier company Xerox founded a research centre in Palo Alto known as PARC. This is where the Xerox Alto was developed, a forerunner of much of the PC technology taken for granted today. The Alto had a graphical user interface and a mouse, and was the model on which first the Macintosh, then Windows were based. It was also fully network-capable: the Ethernet was another Xerox PARC invention. Many Alto system engineers later worked on the Apple Macintosh. Only around 1,000 examples of the Alto were built; it was a prototype and was never launched on the market. Date of manufacture: 1973
The January 1975 issue of the magazine Popular Electronics featured the forerunner of the first personal computer, the Altair 8800, which had been designed by Ed Roberts and his company MITS. It was available as a kit for 397 US dollars, making it the first computer that ordinary consumers could afford and marking the advent of widespread PC use. Incidentally, the Altair's name comes from a TV series. The twelve-year-old daughter of editor Les Solomon said: “Call it Altair. That's where the Enterprise is heading tonight.“ Date of manufacture: 1975
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple on 1 April 1976. Soon afterwards, they presented their first computer: the Apple I. A total of only 200 Apple I computers were made. Jobs and Wozniak built it in Jobs's parents' garage in Los Altos, California and sold it for $666. The Apple I was actually just a circuit board. Users had to make their own housing for it and add input and output devices themselves. There are still around 70 Apple I computers in existence worldwide. Date of manufacture: 1976
The Apple II was the first “personal“ desktop computer to achieve commercial success. In contrast to the Apple I, the main board was supplied in a plastic housing together with a keyboard, a monitor and software.  The Apple Writer word processor and VisiCalc spreadsheet software were key to its success. The Apple II marked the start of Apple's rise to become the world's most successful company. Date of manufacture: 1977
The computer centre from the Sachsenwerk in Dresden is part of a system that was only shut down in 1993. It played a role in GDR computer history and a part in the success story of a major computer system. The Einheitliches System Elektronischer Rechenanlagen (standardized system of electronic computers) is the functional replica of an IBM computer: ESER 1055 is compatible with the 370/155 in terms of hardware and software alike. These computer systems were built until well into the 1980s. Date of manufacture: about 1979
Whenever computers were mentioned in the 1960s and 1970s, IBM was the name on everyone's lips. Despite this, the manufacturing giant was so slow to react that it almost missed out on the personal computer revolution, eventually launching its own PC 5150 in August 1981. The device proved an immediate hit, becoming an office mainstay. After all, it was a product of THE computer company, a fact which engendered trust among businesses that had not had any faith in the models available on the market thus far. The IBM PC, which ran with Microsoft's DOS operating system, provided the industry standard that had been lacking for so long. Date of manufacture: 1984
When Adam Osborne founded his computer firm, he was already well-known on the burgeoning home-computer scene thanks to numerous books and articles he had published. Although others before him had toyed with the idea of building a portable computer, his model, the Osborne 1, was the first on the market. Compared with today’s laptops, the Osborne 1 was extremely heavy and unwieldy. Despite this drawback, it proved a big success and almost became a cult object. Unfortunately, Osborne’s company went bankrupt in 1983. Date of manufacture: 1983
Commodore presented the C64 in 1982. Two years after its launch, four million units had already been sold, breaking all previous records for computer sales. Ultimately, a total of over 20 million C64 computers were sold throughout the world. The C64 was sometimes referred to as the “breadbox“ or even the “neck rest“ due to its shape. Date of manufacture: 1982
Motorola launched the first commercial mobile phone in 1983: the Dynatac 8000X. This bulky forebear of today's mobile phones weighed almost 750 grams and cost around $400. Date of manufacture: 1983
Apple launched the Macintosh on 24 January 1984. The Mac broke with all the previously accepted notions about PCs. When Jef Raskin, the father of the Mac, proposed the project in 1979, his idea was to design a computer that was geared to people. The Mac enabled normal users to become acquainted with the graphical user interface featuring desktop, mouse and windows. All they had to do beforehand was to unpack it and plug it in. Although the Mac lost out to the IBM PCs in the office environment, it revolutionised the entire graphic design industry. Date of manufacture: 1984
The Cray-2 was the fastest computer in the world in 1985. It weighed 2.5 tonnes. It was supplied as a supercomputer with up to four processors, a peak performance of 2 GFLOPS, 2 GB of memory and a maximum clock speed of 4.1 ns. It is notable for its striking design. A total of 27 units were sold. Date of manufacture: 1985
The Nintendo Game Boy proved to be one of the most successful products in the company’s history. The hand-held video game device was launched on the market in a plain grey-and-white version in 1989. Its robust technology, ease of operation and low battery consumption all helped to make it the biggest-selling console of the time. Although the Game Boy was initially only available with the game Tetris, strangely enough this became part of its appeal: it wasn’t just for hard-core players, but for everyone. The Game Boy was manufactured until 2002 and 120 million devices were sold in all. Date of manufacture: about 1990
The Newton was Apple’s attempt to create a revolutionary new device. A feature of the PDA (Private Digital Assistant) was handwriting recognition software; the device also came with a stylus which was supposed to make entering text child’s play. The touch-sensitive screen would detect characters and words automatically as they were written. However, this feature never really worked properly at market launch, something which gave rise to less than glowing reviews in the press. The project was halted in 1998 when company founder Steve Jobs re-joined the company. Date of manufacture: 1993
Robot soccer represents a major challenge for researchers in the field of artificial intelligence. A proving ground for the state of science in this field, it is also a means of promoting university-level education. Since 1997, international RoboCup matches featuring research teams from all over the world have been held in various leagues. This model – a third-generation, Middle Size League robot – belongs to the Fraunhofer Institut. Each robot has its own sensors and can make decisions completely autonomously. The robots can, however, communicate wirelessly with one another and with a computer. Date of manufacture: 1999
The robot dog AIBO was perhaps the most technically sophisticated toy ever to be created by its Japanese manufacturer Sony: the battery-operated dog came with 18 electrically controlled joints, microphones, loudspeakers, emotion display, 64-bit processor and a balance system to enable it to stand up. Date of manufacture: 1999
Lauron stands for “LAUfROboter Neuronal gesteuert” (English: “Walking Robot, Neural Controlled”). The walking robot (the 3rd generation of which is on show) was developed in order to research statically stable walking in rough terrain. Its movements are biologically inspired, mimicking those of a stick insect. Each leg can respond semi-autonomously to impulses; the movements are coordinated at a higher level. Lauron is able to gather information about its environment and plan a path towards a given goal autonomously. While walking, the robot uses sensors to detect potential obstacles and then either walks over or around them. Date of manufacture: 1999
Using a camera, this 2nd-generation face robot scans the viewer’s facial expression, which is then recognised and interpreted by software based on a neural net. From a repertoire of pre-programmed responses, the robot’s mechanism is activated and a matching facial expression is generated. The mechanical and electronic parts of the Mark II were covered by a silicone skin to create a robot face that looks as human as possible. Fumio Hara, Science University of Tokyo, Japan, 2001
RoboThespian is a life-sized humanoid robot designed for human interaction in public environments. It can sing as well as tell jokes and recite text passages. Visitors can choose from a selection of programmed text sequences for the metallic creation to read out, accompanied by a range of gestures. Date of manufacture: 2011
The earliest documents written on clay tablets in cuneiform script were used for tax and accounting purposes. Records were kept of the bread rations paid to workers, for example. The precise history is not known. About 2350-2100 BC
Wilhelm Schickard wanted to “mechanise” the laborious and error-prone task of calculating astronomical tables. In 1623 he had two calculating machines built to his specifications in a mechanic’s workshop in Tübingen – one for himself, the other for Johannes Kepler. The practical benefits of his “calculating clock” appeared somewhat dubious at the time, as the system based on logarithmic tables was superior. Regrettably, both machines were destroyed in a fire at the workshop and the invention was forgotten. This reconstruction of the machine by Baron von Freytag Löringhoff was completed in 1957. Date of manufacture: 1957
In 1678, French watchmaker René Grillet presented the “Machine arithmétique” which was capable of carrying out all four basic arithmetic operations. Constructed largely out of paper, the invention used so-called Napier’s rods that had been around since 1617 for the calculation process. It is an excellent example of the early days of mechanical calculation and an ancestor of today’s pocket calculator. Date of manufacture: 1678
This calculating machine, invented by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, was built in the years from 1690 to 1720. It represents a historic milestone in the development of mechanical calculating machines because it was the first to perform all four arithmetic operations. Leibniz's operating mechanism, known as the stepped cylinder or Leibniz wheel, allowed multiplication to be performed mechanically and remained an indispensable component of mechanical calculators for over 200 years. Functioning replica of the only remaining original (at the Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek in Hanover), built to plans by N. Joachim Lehmann. HNF replica: 1995
The device popularly known as the “Chess Turk“ was built in 1769 by Austrian court official Wolfgang von Kempelen in such a way as to convince spectators that they were watching an “automated chess player“. In fact an individual of quite normal size sat inside and controlled the gripper arm with the aid of levers and cable winches. Magnetised chess pieces and small magnetic pins on the underside of the board enabled the moves to be followed by the person within. Functional HNF replica: 2004
An Arithmometer is a mechanical calculating machine invented by the Frenchman Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar (1785-1870). It was the world's first calculating machine to go into series production. As well as addition and subtraction, it could perform multiplication and division by means of repeated addition and subtraction. This luxury version of the calculating machine was a gift to the king of Portugal. Date of manufacture: about 1855
The Hansen Writing Ball was the world's first typewriter to be produced commercially, albeit in small batches. It was developed in 1865 by Rasmus Johann Malling-Hansen, a Danish pastor and teacher of deaf-mutes. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a well-known user. Date of manufacture: about 1878
The name Morse and the code of the same name became synonymous with telegraphy. His procedure for transmitting text information via a series of pulses (dots and dashes) and the silences between them helped the technology achieve a breakthrough. The most important components of the Ericsson Morse Telegraph Type TA 100 for receiving messages (“sounder”) are an electromagnet, an armature, a mechanical clockwork to move the paper tape, a coloured stylus and a roll of paper. A Morse key is required to transmit messages. Date of manufacture: about 1880
In 1883, Englishman Joseph Edmondson obtained a patent for a circular calculating machine based on the stepped-drum mechanism. His design was based on Thomas de Colmar’s simple “arithmomètre”. The advantage of Edmondson’s machine was that it was not limited to a certain number of decimal places if a division produced a remainder. Date of manufacture: about 1885
This machine is a replica of the first Hollerith machine that was used so successfully to complete the first census in the USA thanks to the use of punched cards. It provided a much faster way of counting the vast amount of data gathered. The Hollerith machine consists of two hinged plates, a switch panel with relays, a counting device with 40 counters and a sorting box. When one of the pins on the plates meets a hole in the punched card, a circuit is completed and an electric pulse causes the pointer of a counter to advance accordingly. The respective compartment of the sorting box is also opened, and the operator can place the analysed punched card into it by hand. Functional HNF replica: 2006
The comptometer was the first exclusively key-driven mechanical calculator. The “wooden box” was a precursor to the full-keyboard adding machines built between 1886 and 1904. According to its manufacturer’s promotional material, it was the world’s first adding machine with a practical application. Date of manufacture: about 1900
The Underwood No. 5, which appeared in 1900, was the first classic modern typewriter (with visible text, upper- and lower-case letters and tab stops). It set the standard for all subsequent typewriters worldwide until they were superseded first by IBM electric typewriters, which used a type ball instead of type bars, and then by PCs. Date of manufacture: 1915
This extremely compact table-top telephone with a quirky design was also known as the “Pferdefuss” or “horse’s hoof” in Bavaria due to its shape. It was the approved standard dialling apparatus only in Bavaria. Incidentally, the device was referred to as the “cow’s hoof” in Prussia. Date of manufacture: from 1925 onwards
In 1879 the Ritty brothers filed a patent application for the first cash register in the USA. Businessman John H. Patterson acquired the rights to manufacture cash registers in 1884 and founded the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio. The NCR 400 series models were among the standard cash registers in use at the time. They were favoured by retail outlets because of their robust nature. Model 422 has five rows of keys and features 42 keys in all. The indicators are in English and show sums of pounds and pence. Date of manufacture: 1910
The Kryha Liliput is a very rare cipher machine in pocket-watch format. The machine consisted of two concentric rings, each featuring an alphabet and numbers. The user would operate it by pushing a lever to step the inner ring a random number of places against the outer ring, thereby changing the relationship between the two. Although Kryha’s devices were a commercial success, they were cryptographically weak as the period lengths of the codes were generally quite short. The Kryha Liliput was cryptographically compatible with its “big sister”, the Kryha Standard. Date of manufacture: about 1926
The legendary Enigma cipher machine was developed in the early 1920s by the German engineer Artur Scherbius in Berlin and initially marketed for commercial purposes. The machine has three rotors, each of which performs an alphabetic substitution cipher. By combining the rotors in series and using a plugboard with variable wiring, very complex scrambling of the message can be achieved. Date of manufacture: about 1942
The T52 e was a World War II German cipher machine and teleprinter. Due to its size and weight, however, it was only ever used as a stationary device. Unlike the Enigma, messages were encrypted and deciphered automatically. On 20 July 1944, the resistance group led by Claus von Stauffenberg used the device to issue encrypted commands for Operation Valkyrie, the plot to assassinate Hitler. Date of manufacture: 1942
The first functioning electronic computer consisted of 40 panels with almost 18,000 vacuum tubes. J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly were commissioned to construct a vacuum-tube computer by the US Army in 1943. ENIAC, which was 1,000 times faster than other calculating machines, was developed by the young scientists at the Moore School of Electronics in Philadelphia. It required just eight hours to perform calculations that had previously taken an entire year. The high processing capacity was needed by the US Army to calculate artillery firing tables. Mauchly wanted to use ENIAC’s speed to produce more accurate weather forecasts, which is why its inventors built a “universal machine“. Date of manufacture: 1946
The history of IBM in Germany dates back to 1910, with the founding of DEHOMAG (Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH) in Berlin. The company was renamed IBM Deutschland GmbH in 1949, when it relocated to Böblingen. The D 11 tabulator, which was manufactured from 1935 onwards, was the first German machine of its kind. Used for punched card analysis, its ability to read, count, compute and print cards made it the mainstay of many so-called Hollerith departments. The machine proved a milestone in the development of punched card technology: It was on sale until 1960, latterly as the IBM D11 Type 450. Around 1,100 D 11 models were sold in all. Date of manufacture: between 1949 and 1960
In the early days of telephony, calls were connected manually by a switchboard operator . The next stage of development saw the introduction of automatic telephone exchanges which dispensed with the need for human intervention. A local telephone exchange establishes connections between the subscribers of a local network. In this case, an analogue electrical signal is switched via electromechanical components. If the first digit dialled by the subscriber is a zero, he or she is put through to the trunk or long-distance exchange. The electromechanical system exhibited here was in use in Hagen-Eilpe until 1994, when it was replaced by a digital switching system.
The W48 desktop telephone was developed for the Deutsche Bundespost by Siemens & Halske in 1948 in the western zone of occupied Germany and produced in very large quantities. Date of manufacture: 1954
This is the first computer developed by Heinz Nixdorf. He started work in July 1952 and it took him 15 months to complete. The electronic balancer is equipped with vacuum tubes. It is a one-off machine built especially for materials management at Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), where it supplemented the work of a Remington Rand tabulating machine, whose mechanical mode of operation was no match for the much faster Nixdorf electronics. Date of manufacture: 1953
The accounting machine Exacta-Continental 6000 was the ultimate in electromechanical office equipment: it could manage all accounting tasks with ease. It came with an optional Multitronic electronic multiplication unit manufactured by Heinz Nixdorf’s Labor für Impulstechnik, which signalled the beginning of a new data processing era from 1958 onwards. Date of manufacture: about 1958
The Zuse Z 11 was the first programmable relay computer from ZUSE KG to go into series production. It was used for mathematical calculations, its hard-wired programs having been designed for surveying tasks in particular. The last in a development series of electro-mechanically controlled computer systems, it contained relays as binary switching elements. These may have been slower than vacuum tubes, but were also more reliable, more durable and less expensive. Date of manufacture: 1958
The Curta is the only mechanical pocket calculator that is capable of performing all four basic arithmetic operations. The inventor of this precision-engineered masterpiece was an Austrian, Curt Herzstark (1902-1988). Date of manufacture: about 1965
The Anita was the first all-electronic, tube-based desktop calculator. Not only was it completely silent, but it operated much faster than mechanical machines, and was maintenance-free too. However, tubes were not an optimum technical solution for desktop calculators as they used a lot of electricity, were relatively susceptible to breakage and were expensive to produce. For this reason, this technology remained unique to the Anita. Mass production of such devices only became an option once transistors started to be used from around 1964 onwards. Date of manufacture: 1961
The linotype machine was a “line casting” machine used in printing. It replaced the extremely time-consuming manual type-setting process. The machine, which was patented in 1886, mechanised the setting and casting of letters. The setter entered text at a keyboard: every time a key was pressed, a matrix of the chosen letter fell into position from a magazine. The assembled line of matrices was cast as a single piece of type metal and filled with liquid lead once the spaces between words had been automatically adjusted. After cooling, this produced “A LINE OF TYPES”. Date of manufacture: 1962
At the start of the 1950s, VEB Optima Büromaschinenwerk Erfurt was asked to develop a typewriter for China as part of e socialist initiative to support allied nations. The Erfurt manufacturers based their design on the box-type typewriter first sold in 1917 by Nippon Typewriter Co. Ltd. in Tokyo. The “Chinese Optima” made its début in 1953. Subsequently, the Chinese bicycle factory “Flying Dove” took over production of the device, two versions of which were produced in China under the “Flying Dove” brand until the end of 1992. Date of manufacture: 1992
This computer originated from the Gemini II mission; it featured in an unmanned space flight on 19.01.1965. The Mercury and Gemini space programmes laid the groundwork for the moon landing. From 1963 onwards, the Gemini missions tested orbital coupling manoeuvres necessary to achieve rendezvous and docking. Safe, accurate manoeuvring was only possible with the aid of a computer. IBM’s commission to develop the on-board computer was worth $26.6 million. It was the first computer to have a magnetic core memory so that data was not destroyed when read out. It was also IBM’s first computer to be fully transistorised. The computer proved reliable in operation. Date of manufacture: about 1964
In 1965, the Digital Equipment Corporation presented the PDP-8, thereby marking the beginning of the mini-computer era. Priced at just 18,200 Dollars, this general-purpose computer was robust enough to be used in both production and laboratory environments. Some 10,000 of them were sold within the space of 10 years; by 1975, the PDP-8 cost just 2,600 Dollars. A whole variety of manufacturers tapped into the new market, building computers based on the PDP-8 for use in process and manufacturing technology and for controlling experiments in research. By 1975, more than 30 companies in the West German market alone were selling mini-computers. Date of manufacture: 1965
In 1964, Nixdorf developed the electronics for a desk-top calculator produced by office equipment manufacturer Wanderer, later building the components itself under licence. The “Wanderer Conti” was presented to the public for the first time in 1965 at the Hanover Trade Fair. It was the world’s first fully electronic desk-top calculator with printing output. In terms of design, the four-species calculator was a bona fide computer, boasting an arithmetic unit, a magnetic core memory, a printer and a threaded read-only memory (ROM). The Conti enabled Nixdorf to gain a foothold in the US market when the Chicago-based Victor Comptometer Corporation placed an order worth DM 100 million for the machine in 1968. Date of manufacture: 1966
The Olivetti Valentine is a mechanical typewriter that stands out largely by virtue of its unconventional appearance. It is regarded as a milestone in industrial design and is a sought-after collector’s item. Date of manufacture: early 1970s
The great success enjoyed by Nixdorf at the end of the 1960s and start of the 1970s was based largely on the computers of the 820 series. These were universal computers for companies of all sizes and could be used for almost any application area thanks to their modular construction and consistent application of the modular design system. Date of manufacture: 1974
Canon Canola Pocketronic, Sanyo ICC-82D, Sharp EL-8: The first battery-operated electronic pocket calculators were brought out virtually simultaneously in 1970 by Japanese firms Sanyo, Sharp and Canon. However, the "heart" of these first pocket calculators – the microchip – was produced by US companies such as Texas Instruments and Rockwell. Texas Instruments had developed the first portable prototype as early as 1967. But the Cal-Tech, as it was known, was merely supposed to demonstrate the power of the new chip and never went into series production. The huge sales potential of the pocket calculator had yet to be recognised, especially since it was still too expensive to produce. It was for this reason that Texas Instruments sold the technical design of the Cal-Tech to Canon, and only brought out its own pocket calculator in 1972. Date of manufacture: 1970
The Odyssey console laid the foundations for the video game era. In 1966 Ralph Baer, a US engineer of German descent, filed a patent for a kind of ping-pong game. This was ultimately granted in 1968. It was not until 1972 that the game was distributed with a gaming console by Magnavox. Poor marketing meant that although the video game wasn’t a commercial flop, it wasn’t a resounding financial success either. Date of manufacture: 1972
The HP-35 was the world's first scientific pocket calculator. Before it came along, slide rules and logarithm tables were required for trigonometric and exponential functions. Pocket calculators were only capable of the four basic arithmetic operations. The price for an HP-35 in 1972 was about DM 2,000. Date of manufacture: 1972
In 1970, the photocopier company Xerox founded a research centre in Palo Alto known as PARC. This is where the Xerox Alto was developed, a forerunner of much of the PC technology taken for granted today. The Alto had a graphical user interface and a mouse, and was the model on which first the Macintosh, then Windows were based. It was also fully network-capable: the Ethernet was another Xerox PARC invention. Many Alto system engineers later worked on the Apple Macintosh. Only around 1,000 examples of the Alto were built; it was a prototype and was never launched on the market. Date of manufacture: 1973
The January 1975 issue of the magazine Popular Electronics featured the forerunner of the first personal computer, the Altair 8800, which had been designed by Ed Roberts and his company MITS. It was available as a kit for 397 US dollars, making it the first computer that ordinary consumers could afford and marking the advent of widespread PC use. Incidentally, the Altair's name comes from a TV series. The twelve-year-old daughter of editor Les Solomon said: “Call it Altair. That's where the Enterprise is heading tonight.“ Date of manufacture: 1975
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple on 1 April 1976. Soon afterwards, they presented their first computer: the Apple I. A total of only 200 Apple I computers were made. Jobs and Wozniak built it in Jobs's parents' garage in Los Altos, California and sold it for $666. The Apple I was actually just a circuit board. Users had to make their own housing for it and add input and output devices themselves. There are still around 70 Apple I computers in existence worldwide. Date of manufacture: 1976
The Apple II was the first “personal“ desktop computer to achieve commercial success. In contrast to the Apple I, the main board was supplied in a plastic housing together with a keyboard, a monitor and software.  The Apple Writer word processor and VisiCalc spreadsheet software were key to its success. The Apple II marked the start of Apple's rise to become the world's most successful company. Date of manufacture: 1977
The computer centre from the Sachsenwerk in Dresden is part of a system that was only shut down in 1993. It played a role in GDR computer history and a part in the success story of a major computer system. The Einheitliches System Elektronischer Rechenanlagen (standardized system of electronic computers) is the functional replica of an IBM computer: ESER 1055 is compatible with the 370/155 in terms of hardware and software alike. These computer systems were built until well into the 1980s. Date of manufacture: about 1979
Whenever computers were mentioned in the 1960s and 1970s, IBM was the name on everyone's lips. Despite this, the manufacturing giant was so slow to react that it almost missed out on the personal computer revolution, eventually launching its own PC 5150 in August 1981. The device proved an immediate hit, becoming an office mainstay. After all, it was a product of THE computer company, a fact which engendered trust among businesses that had not had any faith in the models available on the market thus far. The IBM PC, which ran with Microsoft's DOS operating system, provided the industry standard that had been lacking for so long. Date of manufacture: 1984
When Adam Osborne founded his computer firm, he was already well-known on the burgeoning home-computer scene thanks to numerous books and articles he had published. Although others before him had toyed with the idea of building a portable computer, his model, the Osborne 1, was the first on the market. Compared with today’s laptops, the Osborne 1 was extremely heavy and unwieldy. Despite this drawback, it proved a big success and almost became a cult object. Unfortunately, Osborne’s company went bankrupt in 1983. Date of manufacture: 1983
Commodore presented the C64 in 1982. Two years after its launch, four million units had already been sold, breaking all previous records for computer sales. Ultimately, a total of over 20 million C64 computers were sold throughout the world. The C64 was sometimes referred to as the “breadbox“ or even the “neck rest“ due to its shape. Date of manufacture: 1982
Motorola launched the first commercial mobile phone in 1983: the Dynatac 8000X. This bulky forebear of today's mobile phones weighed almost 750 grams and cost around $400. Date of manufacture: 1983
Apple launched the Macintosh on 24 January 1984. The Mac broke with all the previously accepted notions about PCs. When Jef Raskin, the father of the Mac, proposed the project in 1979, his idea was to design a computer that was geared to people. The Mac enabled normal users to become acquainted with the graphical user interface featuring desktop, mouse and windows. All they had to do beforehand was to unpack it and plug it in. Although the Mac lost out to the IBM PCs in the office environment, it revolutionised the entire graphic design industry. Date of manufacture: 1984
The Cray-2 was the fastest computer in the world in 1985. It weighed 2.5 tonnes. It was supplied as a supercomputer with up to four processors, a peak performance of 2 GFLOPS, 2 GB of memory and a maximum clock speed of 4.1 ns. It is notable for its striking design. A total of 27 units were sold. Date of manufacture: 1985
The Nintendo Game Boy proved to be one of the most successful products in the company’s history. The hand-held video game device was launched on the market in a plain grey-and-white version in 1989. Its robust technology, ease of operation and low battery consumption all helped to make it the biggest-selling console of the time. Although the Game Boy was initially only available with the game Tetris, strangely enough this became part of its appeal: it wasn’t just for hard-core players, but for everyone. The Game Boy was manufactured until 2002 and 120 million devices were sold in all. Date of manufacture: about 1990
The Newton was Apple’s attempt to create a revolutionary new device. A feature of the PDA (Private Digital Assistant) was handwriting recognition software; the device also came with a stylus which was supposed to make entering text child’s play. The touch-sensitive screen would detect characters and words automatically as they were written. However, this feature never really worked properly at market launch, something which gave rise to less than glowing reviews in the press. The project was halted in 1998 when company founder Steve Jobs re-joined the company. Date of manufacture: 1993
Robot soccer represents a major challenge for researchers in the field of artificial intelligence. A proving ground for the state of science in this field, it is also a means of promoting university-level education. Since 1997, international RoboCup matches featuring research teams from all over the world have been held in various leagues. This model – a third-generation, Middle Size League robot – belongs to the Fraunhofer Institut. Each robot has its own sensors and can make decisions completely autonomously. The robots can, however, communicate wirelessly with one another and with a computer. Date of manufacture: 1999
The robot dog AIBO was perhaps the most technically sophisticated toy ever to be created by its Japanese manufacturer Sony: the battery-operated dog came with 18 electrically controlled joints, microphones, loudspeakers, emotion display, 64-bit processor and a balance system to enable it to stand up. Date of manufacture: 1999
Lauron stands for “LAUfROboter Neuronal gesteuert” (English: “Walking Robot, Neural Controlled”). The walking robot (the 3rd generation of which is on show) was developed in order to research statically stable walking in rough terrain. Its movements are biologically inspired, mimicking those of a stick insect. Each leg can respond semi-autonomously to impulses; the movements are coordinated at a higher level. Lauron is able to gather information about its environment and plan a path towards a given goal autonomously. While walking, the robot uses sensors to detect potential obstacles and then either walks over or around them. Date of manufacture: 1999
Using a camera, this 2nd-generation face robot scans the viewer’s facial expression, which is then recognised and interpreted by software based on a neural net. From a repertoire of pre-programmed responses, the robot’s mechanism is activated and a matching facial expression is generated. The mechanical and electronic parts of the Mark II were covered by a silicone skin to create a robot face that looks as human as possible. Fumio Hara, Science University of Tokyo, Japan, 2001
RoboThespian is a life-sized humanoid robot designed for human interaction in public environments. It can sing as well as tell jokes and recite text passages. Visitors can choose from a selection of programmed text sequences for the metallic creation to read out, accompanied by a range of gestures. Date of manufacture: 2011
The earliest documents written on clay tablets in cuneiform script were used for tax and accounting purposes. Records were kept of the bread rations paid to workers, for example. The precise history is not known. About 2350-2100 BC
Wilhelm Schickard wanted to “mechanise” the laborious and error-prone task of calculating astronomical tables. In 1623 he had two calculating machines built to his specifications in a mechanic’s workshop in Tübingen – one for himself, the other for Johannes Kepler. The practical benefits of his “calculating clock” appeared somewhat dubious at the time, as the system based on logarithmic tables was superior. Regrettably, both machines were destroyed in a fire at the workshop and the invention was forgotten. This reconstruction of the machine by Baron von Freytag Löringhoff was completed in 1957. Date of manufacture: 1957
In 1678, French watchmaker René Grillet presented the “Machine arithmétique” which was capable of carrying out all four basic arithmetic operations. Constructed largely out of paper, the invention used so-called Napier’s rods that had been around since 1617 for the calculation process. It is an excellent example of the early days of mechanical calculation and an ancestor of today’s pocket calculator. Date of manufacture: 1678
This calculating machine, invented by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, was built in the years from 1690 to 1720. It represents a historic milestone in the development of mechanical calculating machines because it was the first to perform all four arithmetic operations. Leibniz's operating mechanism, known as the stepped cylinder or Leibniz wheel, allowed multiplication to be performed mechanically and remained an indispensable component of mechanical calculators for over 200 years. Functioning replica of the only remaining original (at the Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek in Hanover), built to plans by N. Joachim Lehmann. HNF replica: 1995
The device popularly known as the “Chess Turk“ was built in 1769 by Austrian court official Wolfgang von Kempelen in such a way as to convince spectators that they were watching an “automated chess player“. In fact an individual of quite normal size sat inside and controlled the gripper arm with the aid of levers and cable winches. Magnetised chess pieces and small magnetic pins on the underside of the board enabled the moves to be followed by the person within. Functional HNF replica: 2004
An Arithmometer is a mechanical calculating machine invented by the Frenchman Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar (1785-1870). It was the world's first calculating machine to go into series production. As well as addition and subtraction, it could perform multiplication and division by means of repeated addition and subtraction. This luxury version of the calculating machine was a gift to the king of Portugal. Date of manufacture: about 1855
The Hansen Writing Ball was the world's first typewriter to be produced commercially, albeit in small batches. It was developed in 1865 by Rasmus Johann Malling-Hansen, a Danish pastor and teacher of deaf-mutes. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a well-known user. Date of manufacture: about 1878
The name Morse and the code of the same name became synonymous with telegraphy. His procedure for transmitting text information via a series of pulses (dots and dashes) and the silences between them helped the technology achieve a breakthrough. The most important components of the Ericsson Morse Telegraph Type TA 100 for receiving messages (“sounder”) are an electromagnet, an armature, a mechanical clockwork to move the paper tape, a coloured stylus and a roll of paper. A Morse key is required to transmit messages. Date of manufacture: about 1880
In 1883, Englishman Joseph Edmondson obtained a patent for a circular calculating machine based on the stepped-drum mechanism. His design was based on Thomas de Colmar’s simple “arithmomètre”. The advantage of Edmondson’s machine was that it was not limited to a certain number of decimal places if a division produced a remainder. Date of manufacture: about 1885
This machine is a replica of the first Hollerith machine that was used so successfully to complete the first census in the USA thanks to the use of punched cards. It provided a much faster way of counting the vast amount of data gathered. The Hollerith machine consists of two hinged plates, a switch panel with relays, a counting device with 40 counters and a sorting box. When one of the pins on the plates meets a hole in the punched card, a circuit is completed and an electric pulse causes the pointer of a counter to advance accordingly. The respective compartment of the sorting box is also opened, and the operator can place the analysed punched card into it by hand. Functional HNF replica: 2006
The comptometer was the first exclusively key-driven mechanical calculator. The “wooden box” was a precursor to the full-keyboard adding machines built between 1886 and 1904. According to its manufacturer’s promotional material, it was the world’s first adding machine with a practical application. Date of manufacture: about 1900
The Underwood No. 5, which appeared in 1900, was the first classic modern typewriter (with visible text, upper- and lower-case letters and tab stops). It set the standard for all subsequent typewriters worldwide until they were superseded first by IBM electric typewriters, which used a type ball instead of type bars, and then by PCs. Date of manufacture: 1915
This extremely compact table-top telephone with a quirky design was also known as the “Pferdefuss” or “horse’s hoof” in Bavaria due to its shape. It was the approved standard dialling apparatus only in Bavaria. Incidentally, the device was referred to as the “cow’s hoof” in Prussia. Date of manufacture: from 1925 onwards
In 1879 the Ritty brothers filed a patent application for the first cash register in the USA. Businessman John H. Patterson acquired the rights to manufacture cash registers in 1884 and founded the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio. The NCR 400 series models were among the standard cash registers in use at the time. They were favoured by retail outlets because of their robust nature. Model 422 has five rows of keys and features 42 keys in all. The indicators are in English and show sums of pounds and pence. Date of manufacture: 1910
The Kryha Liliput is a very rare cipher machine in pocket-watch format. The machine consisted of two concentric rings, each featuring an alphabet and numbers. The user would operate it by pushing a lever to step the inner ring a random number of places against the outer ring, thereby changing the relationship between the two. Although Kryha’s devices were a commercial success, they were cryptographically weak as the period lengths of the codes were generally quite short. The Kryha Liliput was cryptographically compatible with its “big sister”, the Kryha Standard. Date of manufacture: about 1926
The legendary Enigma cipher machine was developed in the early 1920s by the German engineer Artur Scherbius in Berlin and initially marketed for commercial purposes. The machine has three rotors, each of which performs an alphabetic substitution cipher. By combining the rotors in series and using a plugboard with variable wiring, very complex scrambling of the message can be achieved. Date of manufacture: about 1942
The T52 e was a World War II German cipher machine and teleprinter. Due to its size and weight, however, it was only ever used as a stationary device. Unlike the Enigma, messages were encrypted and deciphered automatically. On 20 July 1944, the resistance group led by Claus von Stauffenberg used the device to issue encrypted commands for Operation Valkyrie, the plot to assassinate Hitler. Date of manufacture: 1942
The first functioning electronic computer consisted of 40 panels with almost 18,000 vacuum tubes. J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly were commissioned to construct a vacuum-tube computer by the US Army in 1943. ENIAC, which was 1,000 times faster than other calculating machines, was developed by the young scientists at the Moore School of Electronics in Philadelphia. It required just eight hours to perform calculations that had previously taken an entire year. The high processing capacity was needed by the US Army to calculate artillery firing tables. Mauchly wanted to use ENIAC’s speed to produce more accurate weather forecasts, which is why its inventors built a “universal machine“. Date of manufacture: 1946
The history of IBM in Germany dates back to 1910, with the founding of DEHOMAG (Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH) in Berlin. The company was renamed IBM Deutschland GmbH in 1949, when it relocated to Böblingen. The D 11 tabulator, which was manufactured from 1935 onwards, was the first German machine of its kind. Used for punched card analysis, its ability to read, count, compute and print cards made it the mainstay of many so-called Hollerith departments. The machine proved a milestone in the development of punched card technology: It was on sale until 1960, latterly as the IBM D11 Type 450. Around 1,100 D 11 models were sold in all. Date of manufacture: between 1949 and 1960
In the early days of telephony, calls were connected manually by a switchboard operator . The next stage of development saw the introduction of automatic telephone exchanges which dispensed with the need for human intervention. A local telephone exchange establishes connections between the subscribers of a local network. In this case, an analogue electrical signal is switched via electromechanical components. If the first digit dialled by the subscriber is a zero, he or she is put through to the trunk or long-distance exchange. The electromechanical system exhibited here was in use in Hagen-Eilpe until 1994, when it was replaced by a digital switching system.
The W48 desktop telephone was developed for the Deutsche Bundespost by Siemens & Halske in 1948 in the western zone of occupied Germany and produced in very large quantities. Date of manufacture: 1954
This is the first computer developed by Heinz Nixdorf. He started work in July 1952 and it took him 15 months to complete. The electronic balancer is equipped with vacuum tubes. It is a one-off machine built especially for materials management at Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), where it supplemented the work of a Remington Rand tabulating machine, whose mechanical mode of operation was no match for the much faster Nixdorf electronics. Date of manufacture: 1953
The accounting machine Exacta-Continental 6000 was the ultimate in electromechanical office equipment: it could manage all accounting tasks with ease. It came with an optional Multitronic electronic multiplication unit manufactured by Heinz Nixdorf’s Labor für Impulstechnik, which signalled the beginning of a new data processing era from 1958 onwards. Date of manufacture: about 1958
The Zuse Z 11 was the first programmable relay computer from ZUSE KG to go into series production. It was used for mathematical calculations, its hard-wired programs having been designed for surveying tasks in particular. The last in a development series of electro-mechanically controlled computer systems, it contained relays as binary switching elements. These may have been slower than vacuum tubes, but were also more reliable, more durable and less expensive. Date of manufacture: 1958
The Curta is the only mechanical pocket calculator that is capable of performing all four basic arithmetic operations. The inventor of this precision-engineered masterpiece was an Austrian, Curt Herzstark (1902-1988). Date of manufacture: about 1965
The Anita was the first all-electronic, tube-based desktop calculator. Not only was it completely silent, but it operated much faster than mechanical machines, and was maintenance-free too. However, tubes were not an optimum technical solution for desktop calculators as they used a lot of electricity, were relatively susceptible to breakage and were expensive to produce. For this reason, this technology remained unique to the Anita. Mass production of such devices only became an option once transistors started to be used from around 1964 onwards. Date of manufacture: 1961
The linotype machine was a “line casting” machine used in printing. It replaced the extremely time-consuming manual type-setting process. The machine, which was patented in 1886, mechanised the setting and casting of letters. The setter entered text at a keyboard: every time a key was pressed, a matrix of the chosen letter fell into position from a magazine. The assembled line of matrices was cast as a single piece of type metal and filled with liquid lead once the spaces between words had been automatically adjusted. After cooling, this produced “A LINE OF TYPES”. Date of manufacture: 1962
At the start of the 1950s, VEB Optima Büromaschinenwerk Erfurt was asked to develop a typewriter for China as part of e socialist initiative to support allied nations. The Erfurt manufacturers based their design on the box-type typewriter first sold in 1917 by Nippon Typewriter Co. Ltd. in Tokyo. The “Chinese Optima” made its début in 1953. Subsequently, the Chinese bicycle factory “Flying Dove” took over production of the device, two versions of which were produced in China under the “Flying Dove” brand until the end of 1992. Date of manufacture: 1992
This computer originated from the Gemini II mission; it featured in an unmanned space flight on 19.01.1965. The Mercury and Gemini space programmes laid the groundwork for the moon landing. From 1963 onwards, the Gemini missions tested orbital coupling manoeuvres necessary to achieve rendezvous and docking. Safe, accurate manoeuvring was only possible with the aid of a computer. IBM’s commission to develop the on-board computer was worth $26.6 million. It was the first computer to have a magnetic core memory so that data was not destroyed when read out. It was also IBM’s first computer to be fully transistorised. The computer proved reliable in operation. Date of manufacture: about 1964
In 1965, the Digital Equipment Corporation presented the PDP-8, thereby marking the beginning of the mini-computer era. Priced at just 18,200 Dollars, this general-purpose computer was robust enough to be used in both production and laboratory environments. Some 10,000 of them were sold within the space of 10 years; by 1975, the PDP-8 cost just 2,600 Dollars. A whole variety of manufacturers tapped into the new market, building computers based on the PDP-8 for use in process and manufacturing technology and for controlling experiments in research. By 1975, more than 30 companies in the West German market alone were selling mini-computers. Date of manufacture: 1965
In 1964, Nixdorf developed the electronics for a desk-top calculator produced by office equipment manufacturer Wanderer, later building the components itself under licence. The “Wanderer Conti” was presented to the public for the first time in 1965 at the Hanover Trade Fair. It was the world’s first fully electronic desk-top calculator with printing output. In terms of design, the four-species calculator was a bona fide computer, boasting an arithmetic unit, a magnetic core memory, a printer and a threaded read-only memory (ROM). The Conti enabled Nixdorf to gain a foothold in the US market when the Chicago-based Victor Comptometer Corporation placed an order worth DM 100 million for the machine in 1968. Date of manufacture: 1966
The Olivetti Valentine is a mechanical typewriter that stands out largely by virtue of its unconventional appearance. It is regarded as a milestone in industrial design and is a sought-after collector’s item. Date of manufacture: early 1970s
The great success enjoyed by Nixdorf at the end of the 1960s and start of the 1970s was based largely on the computers of the 820 series. These were universal computers for companies of all sizes and could be used for almost any application area thanks to their modular construction and consistent application of the modular design system. Date of manufacture: 1974
Canon Canola Pocketronic, Sanyo ICC-82D, Sharp EL-8: The first battery-operated electronic pocket calculators were brought out virtually simultaneously in 1970 by Japanese firms Sanyo, Sharp and Canon. However, the "heart" of these first pocket calculators – the microchip – was produced by US companies such as Texas Instruments and Rockwell. Texas Instruments had developed the first portable prototype as early as 1967. But the Cal-Tech, as it was known, was merely supposed to demonstrate the power of the new chip and never went into series production. The huge sales potential of the pocket calculator had yet to be recognised, especially since it was still too expensive to produce. It was for this reason that Texas Instruments sold the technical design of the Cal-Tech to Canon, and only brought out its own pocket calculator in 1972. Date of manufacture: 1970
The Odyssey console laid the foundations for the video game era. In 1966 Ralph Baer, a US engineer of German descent, filed a patent for a kind of ping-pong game. This was ultimately granted in 1968. It was not until 1972 that the game was distributed with a gaming console by Magnavox. Poor marketing meant that although the video game wasn’t a commercial flop, it wasn’t a resounding financial success either. Date of manufacture: 1972
The HP-35 was the world's first scientific pocket calculator. Before it came along, slide rules and logarithm tables were required for trigonometric and exponential functions. Pocket calculators were only capable of the four basic arithmetic operations. The price for an HP-35 in 1972 was about DM 2,000. Date of manufacture: 1972
In 1970, the photocopier company Xerox founded a research centre in Palo Alto known as PARC. This is where the Xerox Alto was developed, a forerunner of much of the PC technology taken for granted today. The Alto had a graphical user interface and a mouse, and was the model on which first the Macintosh, then Windows were based. It was also fully network-capable: the Ethernet was another Xerox PARC invention. Many Alto system engineers later worked on the Apple Macintosh. Only around 1,000 examples of the Alto were built; it was a prototype and was never launched on the market. Date of manufacture: 1973
The January 1975 issue of the magazine Popular Electronics featured the forerunner of the first personal computer, the Altair 8800, which had been designed by Ed Roberts and his company MITS. It was available as a kit for 397 US dollars, making it the first computer that ordinary consumers could afford and marking the advent of widespread PC use. Incidentally, the Altair's name comes from a TV series. The twelve-year-old daughter of editor Les Solomon said: “Call it Altair. That's where the Enterprise is heading tonight.“ Date of manufacture: 1975
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple on 1 April 1976. Soon afterwards, they presented their first computer: the Apple I. A total of only 200 Apple I computers were made. Jobs and Wozniak built it in Jobs's parents' garage in Los Altos, California and sold it for $666. The Apple I was actually just a circuit board. Users had to make their own housing for it and add input and output devices themselves. There are still around 70 Apple I computers in existence worldwide. Date of manufacture: 1976
The Apple II was the first “personal“ desktop computer to achieve commercial success. In contrast to the Apple I, the main board was supplied in a plastic housing together with a keyboard, a monitor and software.  The Apple Writer word processor and VisiCalc spreadsheet software were key to its success. The Apple II marked the start of Apple's rise to become the world's most successful company. Date of manufacture: 1977
The computer centre from the Sachsenwerk in Dresden is part of a system that was only shut down in 1993. It played a role in GDR computer history and a part in the success story of a major computer system. The Einheitliches System Elektronischer Rechenanlagen (standardized system of electronic computers) is the functional replica of an IBM computer: ESER 1055 is compatible with the 370/155 in terms of hardware and software alike. These computer systems were built until well into the 1980s. Date of manufacture: about 1979
Whenever computers were mentioned in the 1960s and 1970s, IBM was the name on everyone's lips. Despite this, the manufacturing giant was so slow to react that it almost missed out on the personal computer revolution, eventually launching its own PC 5150 in August 1981. The device proved an immediate hit, becoming an office mainstay. After all, it was a product of THE computer company, a fact which engendered trust among businesses that had not had any faith in the models available on the market thus far. The IBM PC, which ran with Microsoft's DOS operating system, provided the industry standard that had been lacking for so long. Date of manufacture: 1984
When Adam Osborne founded his computer firm, he was already well-known on the burgeoning home-computer scene thanks to numerous books and articles he had published. Although others before him had toyed with the idea of building a portable computer, his model, the Osborne 1, was the first on the market. Compared with today’s laptops, the Osborne 1 was extremely heavy and unwieldy. Despite this drawback, it proved a big success and almost became a cult object. Unfortunately, Osborne’s company went bankrupt in 1983. Date of manufacture: 1983
Commodore presented the C64 in 1982. Two years after its launch, four million units had already been sold, breaking all previous records for computer sales. Ultimately, a total of over 20 million C64 computers were sold throughout the world. The C64 was sometimes referred to as the “breadbox“ or even the “neck rest“ due to its shape. Date of manufacture: 1982
Motorola launched the first commercial mobile phone in 1983: the Dynatac 8000X. This bulky forebear of today's mobile phones weighed almost 750 grams and cost around $400. Date of manufacture: 1983
Apple launched the Macintosh on 24 January 1984. The Mac broke with all the previously accepted notions about PCs. When Jef Raskin, the father of the Mac, proposed the project in 1979, his idea was to design a computer that was geared to people. The Mac enabled normal users to become acquainted with the graphical user interface featuring desktop, mouse and windows. All they had to do beforehand was to unpack it and plug it in. Although the Mac lost out to the IBM PCs in the office environment, it revolutionised the entire graphic design industry. Date of manufacture: 1984
The Cray-2 was the fastest computer in the world in 1985. It weighed 2.5 tonnes. It was supplied as a supercomputer with up to four processors, a peak performance of 2 GFLOPS, 2 GB of memory and a maximum clock speed of 4.1 ns. It is notable for its striking design. A total of 27 units were sold. Date of manufacture: 1985
The Nintendo Game Boy proved to be one of the most successful products in the company’s history. The hand-held video game device was launched on the market in a plain grey-and-white version in 1989. Its robust technology, ease of operation and low battery consumption all helped to make it the biggest-selling console of the time. Although the Game Boy was initially only available with the game Tetris, strangely enough this became part of its appeal: it wasn’t just for hard-core players, but for everyone. The Game Boy was manufactured until 2002 and 120 million devices were sold in all. Date of manufacture: about 1990
The Newton was Apple’s attempt to create a revolutionary new device. A feature of the PDA (Private Digital Assistant) was handwriting recognition software; the device also came with a stylus which was supposed to make entering text child’s play. The touch-sensitive screen would detect characters and words automatically as they were written. However, this feature never really worked properly at market launch, something which gave rise to less than glowing reviews in the press. The project was halted in 1998 when company founder Steve Jobs re-joined the company. Date of manufacture: 1993
Robot soccer represents a major challenge for researchers in the field of artificial intelligence. A proving ground for the state of science in this field, it is also a means of promoting university-level education. Since 1997, international RoboCup matches featuring research teams from all over the world have been held in various leagues. This model – a third-generation, Middle Size League robot – belongs to the Fraunhofer Institut. Each robot has its own sensors and can make decisions completely autonomously. The robots can, however, communicate wirelessly with one another and with a computer. Date of manufacture: 1999
The robot dog AIBO was perhaps the most technically sophisticated toy ever to be created by its Japanese manufacturer Sony: the battery-operated dog came with 18 electrically controlled joints, microphones, loudspeakers, emotion display, 64-bit processor and a balance system to enable it to stand up. Date of manufacture: 1999
Lauron stands for “LAUfROboter Neuronal gesteuert” (English: “Walking Robot, Neural Controlled”). The walking robot (the 3rd generation of which is on show) was developed in order to research statically stable walking in rough terrain. Its movements are biologically inspired, mimicking those of a stick insect. Each leg can respond semi-autonomously to impulses; the movements are coordinated at a higher level. Lauron is able to gather information about its environment and plan a path towards a given goal autonomously. While walking, the robot uses sensors to detect potential obstacles and then either walks over or around them. Date of manufacture: 1999
Using a camera, this 2nd-generation face robot scans the viewer’s facial expression, which is then recognised and interpreted by software based on a neural net. From a repertoire of pre-programmed responses, the robot’s mechanism is activated and a matching facial expression is generated. The mechanical and electronic parts of the Mark II were covered by a silicone skin to create a robot face that looks as human as possible. Fumio Hara, Science University of Tokyo, Japan, 2001
RoboThespian is a life-sized humanoid robot designed for human interaction in public environments. It can sing as well as tell jokes and recite text passages. Visitors can choose from a selection of programmed text sequences for the metallic creation to read out, accompanied by a range of gestures. Date of manufacture: 2011
The earliest documents written on clay tablets in cuneiform script were used for tax and accounting purposes. Records were kept of the bread rations paid to workers, for example. The precise history is not known. About 2350-2100 BC
Wilhelm Schickard wanted to “mechanise” the laborious and error-prone task of calculating astronomical tables. In 1623 he had two calculating machines built to his specifications in a mechanic’s workshop in Tübingen – one for himself, the other for Johannes Kepler. The practical benefits of his “calculating clock” appeared somewhat dubious at the time, as the system based on logarithmic tables was superior. Regrettably, both machines were destroyed in a fire at the workshop and the invention was forgotten. This reconstruction of the machine by Baron von Freytag Löringhoff was completed in 1957. Date of manufacture: 1957
In 1678, French watchmaker René Grillet presented the “Machine arithmétique” which was capable of carrying out all four basic arithmetic operations. Constructed largely out of paper, the invention used so-called Napier’s rods that had been around since 1617 for the calculation process. It is an excellent example of the early days of mechanical calculation and an ancestor of today’s pocket calculator. Date of manufacture: 1678
This calculating machine, invented by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, was built in the years from 1690 to 1720. It represents a historic milestone in the development of mechanical calculating machines because it was the first to perform all four arithmetic operations. Leibniz's operating mechanism, known as the stepped cylinder or Leibniz wheel, allowed multiplication to be performed mechanically and remained an indispensable component of mechanical calculators for over 200 years. Functioning replica of the only remaining original (at the Niedersächsische Landesbibliothek in Hanover), built to plans by N. Joachim Lehmann. HNF replica: 1995
The device popularly known as the “Chess Turk“ was built in 1769 by Austrian court official Wolfgang von Kempelen in such a way as to convince spectators that they were watching an “automated chess player“. In fact an individual of quite normal size sat inside and controlled the gripper arm with the aid of levers and cable winches. Magnetised chess pieces and small magnetic pins on the underside of the board enabled the moves to be followed by the person within. Functional HNF replica: 2004
An Arithmometer is a mechanical calculating machine invented by the Frenchman Charles Xavier Thomas de Colmar (1785-1870). It was the world's first calculating machine to go into series production. As well as addition and subtraction, it could perform multiplication and division by means of repeated addition and subtraction. This luxury version of the calculating machine was a gift to the king of Portugal. Date of manufacture: about 1855
The Hansen Writing Ball was the world's first typewriter to be produced commercially, albeit in small batches. It was developed in 1865 by Rasmus Johann Malling-Hansen, a Danish pastor and teacher of deaf-mutes. The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a well-known user. Date of manufacture: about 1878
The name Morse and the code of the same name became synonymous with telegraphy. His procedure for transmitting text information via a series of pulses (dots and dashes) and the silences between them helped the technology achieve a breakthrough. The most important components of the Ericsson Morse Telegraph Type TA 100 for receiving messages (“sounder”) are an electromagnet, an armature, a mechanical clockwork to move the paper tape, a coloured stylus and a roll of paper. A Morse key is required to transmit messages. Date of manufacture: about 1880
In 1883, Englishman Joseph Edmondson obtained a patent for a circular calculating machine based on the stepped-drum mechanism. His design was based on Thomas de Colmar’s simple “arithmomètre”. The advantage of Edmondson’s machine was that it was not limited to a certain number of decimal places if a division produced a remainder. Date of manufacture: about 1885
This machine is a replica of the first Hollerith machine that was used so successfully to complete the first census in the USA thanks to the use of punched cards. It provided a much faster way of counting the vast amount of data gathered. The Hollerith machine consists of two hinged plates, a switch panel with relays, a counting device with 40 counters and a sorting box. When one of the pins on the plates meets a hole in the punched card, a circuit is completed and an electric pulse causes the pointer of a counter to advance accordingly. The respective compartment of the sorting box is also opened, and the operator can place the analysed punched card into it by hand. Functional HNF replica: 2006
The comptometer was the first exclusively key-driven mechanical calculator. The “wooden box” was a precursor to the full-keyboard adding machines built between 1886 and 1904. According to its manufacturer’s promotional material, it was the world’s first adding machine with a practical application. Date of manufacture: about 1900
The Underwood No. 5, which appeared in 1900, was the first classic modern typewriter (with visible text, upper- and lower-case letters and tab stops). It set the standard for all subsequent typewriters worldwide until they were superseded first by IBM electric typewriters, which used a type ball instead of type bars, and then by PCs. Date of manufacture: 1915
This extremely compact table-top telephone with a quirky design was also known as the “Pferdefuss” or “horse’s hoof” in Bavaria due to its shape. It was the approved standard dialling apparatus only in Bavaria. Incidentally, the device was referred to as the “cow’s hoof” in Prussia. Date of manufacture: from 1925 onwards
In 1879 the Ritty brothers filed a patent application for the first cash register in the USA. Businessman John H. Patterson acquired the rights to manufacture cash registers in 1884 and founded the National Cash Register Company in Dayton, Ohio. The NCR 400 series models were among the standard cash registers in use at the time. They were favoured by retail outlets because of their robust nature. Model 422 has five rows of keys and features 42 keys in all. The indicators are in English and show sums of pounds and pence. Date of manufacture: 1910
The Kryha Liliput is a very rare cipher machine in pocket-watch format. The machine consisted of two concentric rings, each featuring an alphabet and numbers. The user would operate it by pushing a lever to step the inner ring a random number of places against the outer ring, thereby changing the relationship between the two. Although Kryha’s devices were a commercial success, they were cryptographically weak as the period lengths of the codes were generally quite short. The Kryha Liliput was cryptographically compatible with its “big sister”, the Kryha Standard. Date of manufacture: about 1926
The legendary Enigma cipher machine was developed in the early 1920s by the German engineer Artur Scherbius in Berlin and initially marketed for commercial purposes. The machine has three rotors, each of which performs an alphabetic substitution cipher. By combining the rotors in series and using a plugboard with variable wiring, very complex scrambling of the message can be achieved. Date of manufacture: about 1942
The T52 e was a World War II German cipher machine and teleprinter. Due to its size and weight, however, it was only ever used as a stationary device. Unlike the Enigma, messages were encrypted and deciphered automatically. On 20 July 1944, the resistance group led by Claus von Stauffenberg used the device to issue encrypted commands for Operation Valkyrie, the plot to assassinate Hitler. Date of manufacture: 1942
The first functioning electronic computer consisted of 40 panels with almost 18,000 vacuum tubes. J. Presper Eckert and John W. Mauchly were commissioned to construct a vacuum-tube computer by the US Army in 1943. ENIAC, which was 1,000 times faster than other calculating machines, was developed by the young scientists at the Moore School of Electronics in Philadelphia. It required just eight hours to perform calculations that had previously taken an entire year. The high processing capacity was needed by the US Army to calculate artillery firing tables. Mauchly wanted to use ENIAC’s speed to produce more accurate weather forecasts, which is why its inventors built a “universal machine“. Date of manufacture: 1946
The history of IBM in Germany dates back to 1910, with the founding of DEHOMAG (Deutsche Hollerith-Maschinen Gesellschaft mbH) in Berlin. The company was renamed IBM Deutschland GmbH in 1949, when it relocated to Böblingen. The D 11 tabulator, which was manufactured from 1935 onwards, was the first German machine of its kind. Used for punched card analysis, its ability to read, count, compute and print cards made it the mainstay of many so-called Hollerith departments. The machine proved a milestone in the development of punched card technology: It was on sale until 1960, latterly as the IBM D11 Type 450. Around 1,100 D 11 models were sold in all. Date of manufacture: between 1949 and 1960
In the early days of telephony, calls were connected manually by a switchboard operator . The next stage of development saw the introduction of automatic telephone exchanges which dispensed with the need for human intervention. A local telephone exchange establishes connections between the subscribers of a local network. In this case, an analogue electrical signal is switched via electromechanical components. If the first digit dialled by the subscriber is a zero, he or she is put through to the trunk or long-distance exchange. The electromechanical system exhibited here was in use in Hagen-Eilpe until 1994, when it was replaced by a digital switching system.
The W48 desktop telephone was developed for the Deutsche Bundespost by Siemens & Halske in 1948 in the western zone of occupied Germany and produced in very large quantities. Date of manufacture: 1954
This is the first computer developed by Heinz Nixdorf. He started work in July 1952 and it took him 15 months to complete. The electronic balancer is equipped with vacuum tubes. It is a one-off machine built especially for materials management at Rheinisch-Westfälisches Elektrizitätswerk (RWE), where it supplemented the work of a Remington Rand tabulating machine, whose mechanical mode of operation was no match for the much faster Nixdorf electronics. Date of manufacture: 1953
The accounting machine Exacta-Continental 6000 was the ultimate in electromechanical office equipment: it could manage all accounting tasks with ease. It came with an optional Multitronic electronic multiplication unit manufactured by Heinz Nixdorf’s Labor für Impulstechnik, which signalled the beginning of a new data processing era from 1958 onwards. Date of manufacture: about 1958
The Zuse Z 11 was the first programmable relay computer from ZUSE KG to go into series production. It was used for mathematical calculations, its hard-wired programs having been designed for surveying tasks in particular. The last in a development series of electro-mechanically controlled computer systems, it contained relays as binary switching elements. These may have been slower than vacuum tubes, but were also more reliable, more durable and less expensive. Date of manufacture: 1958
The Curta is the only mechanical pocket calculator that is capable of performing all four basic arithmetic operations. The inventor of this precision-engineered masterpiece was an Austrian, Curt Herzstark (1902-1988). Date of manufacture: about 1965
The Anita was the first all-electronic, tube-based desktop calculator. Not only was it completely silent, but it operated much faster than mechanical machines, and was maintenance-free too. However, tubes were not an optimum technical solution for desktop calculators as they used a lot of electricity, were relatively susceptible to breakage and were expensive to produce. For this reason, this technology remained unique to the Anita. Mass production of such devices only became an option once transistors started to be used from around 1964 onwards. Date of manufacture: 1961
The linotype machine was a “line casting” machine used in printing. It replaced the extremely time-consuming manual type-setting process. The machine, which was patented in 1886, mechanised the setting and casting of letters. The setter entered text at a keyboard: every time a key was pressed, a matrix of the chosen letter fell into position from a magazine. The assembled line of matrices was cast as a single piece of type metal and filled with liquid lead once the spaces between words had been automatically adjusted. After cooling, this produced “A LINE OF TYPES”. Date of manufacture: 1962
At the start of the 1950s, VEB Optima Büromaschinenwerk Erfurt was asked to develop a typewriter for China as part of e socialist initiative to support allied nations. The Erfurt manufacturers based their design on the box-type typewriter first sold in 1917 by Nippon Typewriter Co. Ltd. in Tokyo. The “Chinese Optima” made its début in 1953. Subsequently, the Chinese bicycle factory “Flying Dove” took over production of the device, two versions of which were produced in China under the “Flying Dove” brand until the end of 1992. Date of manufacture: 1992
This computer originated from the Gemini II mission; it featured in an unmanned space flight on 19.01.1965. The Mercury and Gemini space programmes laid the groundwork for the moon landing. From 1963 onwards, the Gemini missions tested orbital coupling manoeuvres necessary to achieve rendezvous and docking. Safe, accurate manoeuvring was only possible with the aid of a computer. IBM’s commission to develop the on-board computer was worth $26.6 million. It was the first computer to have a magnetic core memory so that data was not destroyed when read out. It was also IBM’s first computer to be fully transistorised. The computer proved reliable in operation. Date of manufacture: about 1964
In 1965, the Digital Equipment Corporation presented the PDP-8, thereby marking the beginning of the mini-computer era. Priced at just 18,200 Dollars, this general-purpose computer was robust enough to be used in both production and laboratory environments. Some 10,000 of them were sold within the space of 10 years; by 1975, the PDP-8 cost just 2,600 Dollars. A whole variety of manufacturers tapped into the new market, building computers based on the PDP-8 for use in process and manufacturing technology and for controlling experiments in research. By 1975, more than 30 companies in the West German market alone were selling mini-computers. Date of manufacture: 1965
In 1964, Nixdorf developed the electronics for a desk-top calculator produced by office equipment manufacturer Wanderer, later building the components itself under licence. The “Wanderer Conti” was presented to the public for the first time in 1965 at the Hanover Trade Fair. It was the world’s first fully electronic desk-top calculator with printing output. In terms of design, the four-species calculator was a bona fide computer, boasting an arithmetic unit, a magnetic core memory, a printer and a threaded read-only memory (ROM). The Conti enabled Nixdorf to gain a foothold in the US market when the Chicago-based Victor Comptometer Corporation placed an order worth DM 100 million for the machine in 1968. Date of manufacture: 1966
The Olivetti Valentine is a mechanical typewriter that stands out largely by virtue of its unconventional appearance. It is regarded as a milestone in industrial design and is a sought-after collector’s item. Date of manufacture: early 1970s
The great success enjoyed by Nixdorf at the end of the 1960s and start of the 1970s was based largely on the computers of the 820 series. These were universal computers for companies of all sizes and could be used for almost any application area thanks to their modular construction and consistent application of the modular design system. Date of manufacture: 1974
Canon Canola Pocketronic, Sanyo ICC-82D, Sharp EL-8: The first battery-operated electronic pocket calculators were brought out virtually simultaneously in 1970 by Japanese firms Sanyo, Sharp and Canon. However, the "heart" of these first pocket calculators – the microchip – was produced by US companies such as Texas Instruments and Rockwell. Texas Instruments had developed the first portable prototype as early as 1967. But the Cal-Tech, as it was known, was merely supposed to demonstrate the power of the new chip and never went into series production. The huge sales potential of the pocket calculator had yet to be recognised, especially since it was still too expensive to produce. It was for this reason that Texas Instruments sold the technical design of the Cal-Tech to Canon, and only brought out its own pocket calculator in 1972. Date of manufacture: 1970
The Odyssey console laid the foundations for the video game era. In 1966 Ralph Baer, a US engineer of German descent, filed a patent for a kind of ping-pong game. This was ultimately granted in 1968. It was not until 1972 that the game was distributed with a gaming console by Magnavox. Poor marketing meant that although the video game wasn’t a commercial flop, it wasn’t a resounding financial success either. Date of manufacture: 1972
The HP-35 was the world's first scientific pocket calculator. Before it came along, slide rules and logarithm tables were required for trigonometric and exponential functions. Pocket calculators were only capable of the four basic arithmetic operations. The price for an HP-35 in 1972 was about DM 2,000. Date of manufacture: 1972
In 1970, the photocopier company Xerox founded a research centre in Palo Alto known as PARC. This is where the Xerox Alto was developed, a forerunner of much of the PC technology taken for granted today. The Alto had a graphical user interface and a mouse, and was the model on which first the Macintosh, then Windows were based. It was also fully network-capable: the Ethernet was another Xerox PARC invention. Many Alto system engineers later worked on the Apple Macintosh. Only around 1,000 examples of the Alto were built; it was a prototype and was never launched on the market. Date of manufacture: 1973
The January 1975 issue of the magazine Popular Electronics featured the forerunner of the first personal computer, the Altair 8800, which had been designed by Ed Roberts and his company MITS. It was available as a kit for 397 US dollars, making it the first computer that ordinary consumers could afford and marking the advent of widespread PC use. Incidentally, the Altair's name comes from a TV series. The twelve-year-old daughter of editor Les Solomon said: “Call it Altair. That's where the Enterprise is heading tonight.“ Date of manufacture: 1975
Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple on 1 April 1976. Soon afterwards, they presented their first computer: the Apple I. A total of only 200 Apple I computers were made. Jobs and Wozniak built it in Jobs's parents' garage in Los Altos, California and sold it for $666. The Apple I was actually just a circuit board. Users had to make their own housing for it and add input and output devices themselves. There are still around 70 Apple I computers in existence worldwide. Date of manufacture: 1976
The Apple II was the first “personal“ desktop computer to achieve commercial success. In contrast to the Apple I, the main board was supplied in a plastic housing together with a keyboard, a monitor and software.  The Apple Writer word processor and VisiCalc spreadsheet software were key to its success. The Apple II marked the start of Apple's rise to become the world's most successful company. Date of manufacture: 1977
The computer centre from the Sachsenwerk in Dresden is part of a system that was only shut down in 1993. It played a role in GDR computer history and a part in the success story of a major computer system. The Einheitliches System Elektronischer Rechenanlagen (standardized system of electronic computers) is the functional replica of an IBM computer: ESER 1055 is compatible with the 370/155 in terms of hardware and software alike. These computer systems were built until well into the 1980s. Date of manufacture: about 1979
Whenever computers were mentioned in the 1960s and 1970s, IBM was the name on everyone's lips. Despite this, the manufacturing giant was so slow to react that it almost missed out on the personal computer revolution, eventually launching its own PC 5150 in August 1981. The device proved an immediate hit, becoming an office mainstay. After all, it was a product of THE computer company, a fact which engendered trust among businesses that had not had any faith in the models available on the market thus far. The IBM PC, which ran with Microsoft's DOS operating system, provided the industry standard that had been lacking for so long. Date of manufacture: 1984
When Adam Osborne founded his computer firm, he was already well-known on the burgeoning home-computer scene thanks to numerous books and articles he had published. Although others before him had toyed with the idea of building a portable computer, his model, the Osborne 1, was the first on the market. Compared with today’s laptops, the Osborne 1 was extremely heavy and unwieldy. Despite this drawback, it proved a big success and almost became a cult object. Unfortunately, Osborne’s company went bankrupt in 1983. Date of manufacture: 1983
Commodore presented the C64 in 1982. Two years after its launch, four million units had already been sold, breaking all previous records for computer sales. Ultimately, a total of over 20 million C64 computers were sold throughout the world. The C64 was sometimes referred to as the “breadbox“ or even the “neck rest“ due to its shape. Date of manufacture: 1982
Motorola launched the first commercial mobile phone in 1983: the Dynatac 8000X. This bulky forebear of today's mobile phones weighed almost 750 grams and cost around $400. Date of manufacture: 1983
Apple launched the Macintosh on 24 January 1984. The Mac broke with all the previously accepted notions about PCs. When Jef Raskin, the father of the Mac, proposed the project in 1979, his idea was to design a computer that was geared to people. The Mac enabled normal users to become acquainted with the graphical user interface featuring desktop, mouse and windows. All they had to do beforehand was to unpack it and plug it in. Although the Mac lost out to the IBM PCs in the office environment, it revolutionised the entire graphic design industry. Date of manufacture: 1984
The Cray-2 was the fastest computer in the world in 1985. It weighed 2.5 tonnes. It was supplied as a supercomputer with up to four processors, a peak performance of 2 GFLOPS, 2 GB of memory and a maximum clock speed of 4.1 ns. It is notable for its striking design. A total of 27 units were sold. Date of manufacture: 1985
The Nintendo Game Boy proved to be one of the most successful products in the company’s history. The hand-held video game device was launched on the market in a plain grey-and-white version in 1989. Its robust technology, ease of operation and low battery consumption all helped to make it the biggest-selling console of the time. Although the Game Boy was initially only available with the game Tetris, strangely enough this became part of its appeal: it wasn’t just for hard-core players, but for everyone. The Game Boy was manufactured until 2002 and 120 million devices were sold in all. Date of manufacture: about 1990
The Newton was Apple’s attempt to create a revolutionary new device. A feature of the PDA (Private Digital Assistant) was handwriting recognition software; the device also came with a stylus which was supposed to make entering text child’s play. The touch-sensitive screen would detect characters and words automatically as they were written. However, this feature never really worked properly at market launch, something which gave rise to less than glowing reviews in the press. The project was halted in 1998 when company founder Steve Jobs re-joined the company. Date of manufacture: 1993
Robot soccer represents a major challenge for researchers in the field of artificial intelligence. A proving ground for the state of science in this field, it is also a means of promoting university-level education. Since 1997, international RoboCup matches featuring research teams from all over the world have been held in various leagues. This model – a third-generation, Middle Size League robot – belongs to the Fraunhofer Institut. Each robot has its own sensors and can make decisions completely autonomously. The robots can, however, communicate wirelessly with one another and with a computer. Date of manufacture: 1999
The robot dog AIBO was perhaps the most technically sophisticated toy ever to be created by its Japanese manufacturer Sony: the battery-operated dog came with 18 electrically controlled joints, microphones, loudspeakers, emotion display, 64-bit processor and a balance system to enable it to stand up. Date of manufacture: 1999
Lauron stands for “LAUfROboter Neuronal gesteuert” (English: “Walking Robot, Neural Controlled”). The walking robot (the 3rd generation of which is on show) was developed in order to research statically stable walking in rough terrain. Its movements are biologically inspired, mimicking those of a stick insect. Each leg can respond semi-autonomously to impulses; the movements are coordinated at a higher level. Lauron is able to gather information about its environment and plan a path towards a given goal autonomously. While walking, the robot uses sensors to detect potential obstacles and then either walks over or around them. Date of manufacture: 1999
Using a camera, this 2nd-generation face robot scans the viewer’s facial expression, which is then recognised and interpreted by software based on a neural net. From a repertoire of pre-programmed responses, the robot’s mechanism is activated and a matching facial expression is generated. The mechanical and electronic parts of the Mark II were covered by a silicone skin to create a robot face that looks as human as possible. Fumio Hara, Science University of Tokyo, Japan, 2001
RoboThespian is a life-sized humanoid robot designed for human interaction in public environments. It can sing as well as tell jokes and recite text passages. Visitors can choose from a selection of programmed text sequences for the metallic creation to read out, accompanied by a range of gestures. Date of manufacture: 2011