Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Honeywell Kitchen Computer

This is so good I had to share it. In 1969 Honeywell announced the H316 pedestal model as the latest upmarket kitchen appliance to be sold by the luxury US department store Neiman Marcus. The "Kitchen Computer" featured an integrated chopping board and was "useful for storing recipes." The perfect homemaker would have to  take a two-week course to learn to program the device, using only a toggle-switch input and binary light outputs.
    The full text of the advertisement reads "If she can only cook as well as Honeywell can compute. 
Her souffles are supreme, her meal planning a challenge? She's what the Honeywell people had in mind when they devised our Kitchen Computer. She'll learn to program it with a cross-reference to her favorite recipes by N-M's own Helen Corbitt. Then by simply pushing a few buttons obtain a complete menu organized around the entree. And if she pales at reckoning her lunch tabs, she can program it to balance the family checkbook. 84A 10,600.00 complete with two week programming course. 84B Fed with Corbitt data: the original Helen Corbitt cookbook with over 1,000 recipes."
   
It was the first computer ever sold to the home consumer; although Wikipedia report that there is no evidence that anybody ever bought a Kitchen Computer - what a shame! A Kitchen Computer is on display at the Computer History Museum.