In 1967 the Smithsonian Institution launched a project to develop an information storage and retrieval system for the Museum of Natural History’s biological and geological data. Data processing machines were set up at the museum for the capture of information from record cards. These machines would produce a tape that could be read by a computer. The Honeywell 1200 computer, which can be seen in the background here, occupied space in the Smithsonian Institution Building, or Castle, and was used to store the data. The computer gave the Smithsonian a record-keeping system capable of storing and retrieving all of the specimen data compiled by MNH. This was an early effort to better understand and provide access to our collections. We continue to strive for deeper understanding and broader access to collections throughout our vast museum and research complex.
This post by Photograph Archivist Margurite Roby was originally published by the Smithsonian collections blog. October is American Archives Month and the collections blog is celebrating with a month-long blogathon with the theme Discover and Connect. See additional posts from our other participating blogs, as well as related events and resources, on the Smithsonian’s Archives Month website.
Posted: 9 October 2014