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Bytes for Bites: The Kitchen Computer

Neiman-Marcus advertisement

The Kitchen Computer was one of many exotic gifts featured in the Neiman-Marcus Christmas Catalog. Others included Beechcraft airplanes and his and her submarines.

Bytes for Bites: The Kitchen Computer

Why would anyone want a computer at home? Before the personal computer era and its avalanche of possible uses, the perennial answer was: “to store recipes.”

Neiman-Marcus took that literally. The cover of its 1969 Christmas catalog featured the Kitchen Computer. For $10,600 you got the computer, a cookbook, an apron, and a two-week programming course.

Inside the futuristic packaging with a built-in cutting board was a standard Honeywell 316 minicomputer. But the console interface featured binary switches and lights. (Does 0011101000111001 mean broccoli? Or carrots?)

Not surprisingly, none were sold.

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H316 General Purpose Digital Computer (Kitchen Computer)

The Honeywell 316 minicomputer hidden inside the Kitchen Computer was a successor to the 516 computer that powered the first node of the ARPANET, which eventually became the Internet.

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Honeywell brochure

The popular Honeywell series of minicomputers was based on the DDP-116, designed by Gardner Hendrie at Computer Control Corporation in 1964.

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Neiman-Marcus Christmas book

The Kitchen Computer was one of many exotic gifts featured in the Neiman-Marcus Christmas Catalog in 1969. Over the years, others included Beechcraft airplanes, and his and hers submarines.

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