Museum for the historical development of calculator, computer and communication technology

Early commercial computers

In contrast to computers used for scientific applications, commercial data processing systems have a different structure, since they are optimized to support large storage systems and to process lots of data, as in payroll applications and the like. Sometimes the distinction between scientific and commercial systems is not a clear one. The examples below are typical small to medium systems for commercial applications.

Olivetti P 203

Olivetti P203

In 1968 the Olivetti P 101 with enlarged memory capacity was coupled with an electric typewriter which led to a system capable of printing the results of computations directly. This system is of a remarkable design and won quite some prizes for Olivetti in its time. Later machines made by Olivetti departed from that and were packaged in simple cubic enclosures.

NCR 446

Photography of the NCR 446

Apart from desktop calculators other small computer systems were introduced to solve commercial problems. The NCR 446 on display is a so-called accounting machine and consists of a paper tape reader and punch, a keyboard and an IBM Selectric typewriter as printer. It was built 1968 in Germany. Due to its core memory and woven ROM the machine is freely programmable and thus very versatile.
Clicking on the picture yields a more detailed picture


Nixdorf 820 Computer

Nixdorf 820 with card puncher and printer

A typical small to medium data processing system is the NIXDORF 820 built in 1969/1970. This system is built entirely from modules, has a magnetic account reader and a threaded ROM which was user modifiable. The console consists of a typewriter, the magnetic account reader and two punch card readers. In addition to this the system supports a card punching unit, a high speed matrix printer (visible on the right), two cassette tape drives and a stand alone card puncher (IBM or YUKI, see above). Clicking on the picture will yield a more detailed version of it.