Calculator or Computer?

Yesterday I stumbled across the article “Rechenmaschine oder Computer“. As the title indicates the article is in German and appeared in the blog of the Heinz Nixdorf MusemsForum (HNF). It provides some historical context and information about the HP 9100 calculator and its development. Two things have attracted my attention.

First, the HNF is – in his own words – the world largest computer museum. So I think it’s worth a visit for everybody who is interested in the history of computers and calculators. I’ve put it on my list although Paderborn is not around the corner for me. The HNF web site is also available in English so just stop by and have a look.

Second, the article mentions the movie Earth II (1971) where the HP 9100 appears several times. The movie was a pilot for a TV series that never materialized and the German name was “Killersatelliten“. It takes place in the near future and focuses on a space station named Earth II that has received recognition as an independent nation and that is dedicated to the peaceful exploration of space. However, these ideals are quickly challenged when the station personnel discover that Red China has put a nuclear warhead in an orbital path above Moscow that can be employed for a first strike on the Russians.

Indeed, the HP 9100 appears many times and very prominently. I’ve not yet watched the full movie, however, I’ve collected a few scenes where you can see it.

Still picture from scene 0:14:18 .. 0:16:22
Still picture from scene 0:22:48 .. 0:23:43
Still picture from scene 0:25:48 .. 0:27:16
Still picture from the scene 0:31:40 .. 0:39:35

Funnily enough, you’ll see that the HP 9100 calculators are not connected to power and were never turned on.

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