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2013/6/1 Office computer, Jacquard J500 Videocomputer, plastic / glass / metal / electronic components, made by AM International Jacquard Systems Inc, California, United States of America, 1980. Click to enlarge.

Jacquard personal computer

Made
The uptake of office computing was increasing in Australia in the late 1970s and early 1980s; however, the cost and availability of office computers was still restrictive to many at this time. The advantages of the computer as an office tool were undeniable though, and companies and government organisations invested more and more resource into computer hardware, software and training. Today, of course, the computer in the office environment is ubiquitous.

The J500 is a standalone office computer, with two eight inch disk drives and 128K RAM. The computer was at its time by no means a sub-par machine. Yet we see no Jacquard computers in today's office. This is not due to, in this case, to any lack of design or manufacture of the machine, but because many computer companies were attempting to grasp and corner the market on office computing - and thus standardise it to their own specifications. In the evolution of office computing, Jacquard, along with many others, did not survive. It is interesting for younger people to explore this technology, to understand the history of computing.

Damian McDonald, Curator
December 2012

Summary

Object No.

2013/6/1

Object Statement

Office computer, Jacquard J500 Videocomputer, plastic / glass / metal / electronic components, made by AM International Jacquard Systems Inc, California, United States of America, 1980

Physical Description

Video monitor and disk drive unit housed in a beige plastic shell, with the monitor screen situated on the front right of the unit, and two eight inch disk drives running vertically on the left. The rear of the unit features ports for power supply, connection to the keyboard, and external devices. The keyboard is housed in a brown aluminium case and features a QWERTY layout with twenty function keys and a number key array. The rear of the unit features the cable to connect the keyboard to the computer. A separate data cable to connect external device also accompanies the computer.

Production

Notes

The computer was manufactured by AM International Jacquard Systems, California, United States of America, 1980. It was imported to Australia by Computer Resources Inc., Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

History

Notes

The donor of the Jacquard J500 Videocomputer worked as a trainee programmer for the Australian company Computer Resources in Sydney which later became AM Jacquard. This company was associated with AM International. There were only Jacquard J100s - the first incarnation of the Jacquard computer - when he started, which were a true multi-user system with dumb terminals (J105's). This was prior DOS and the IBM PC being introduced into the office environment. The J500 came later as a portable standalone with only two eight inch diskdrives.

The donor then worked for various companies including his own small business and was issued with a J500 by a company contracting him to write an accounting suite. The J500 - though it may not seem it today - was quite portable, and enabled the donor to take the computer home and write programs from there, which he says was quite a luxury! The language he programed in was called Super-Basic.

The donor's son was born in 1984 and took an interest in the computer before he could walk. He was programming games on the Jacquard at six years old. He got it instinctively, and as the donor says, 'I guess the young have ever since!' The donor's son went on to get university degrees in computer science. He now works for a large company as a computer analyst. He remembers the Jacquard with much fondness.

Source

Credit Line

Gift of Steve Rose, 2013

Acquisition Date

16 January 2013

Cite this Object

Harvard

Jacquard personal computer 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 26 September 2020, <https://ma.as/460200>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/460200 |title=Jacquard personal computer |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=26 September 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

Incomplete

This object record is currently incomplete. Other information may exist in a non-digital form. The Museum continues to update and add new research to collection records.