One of the things *I* think would be really useful for
collectors is to
know the number of computers manufactured, both total and by year. The
only problem is in getting this information; anyone have any ideas,
insights, or better yet, connections to past people who would know or be
able to get this information from companies that have ceased business?
I run into all sorts of computer "old timers" at hamfests, and some do
have good stories to tell. That is probably the best way to get
information, as the original sources are most likely gone (even if the
parent companies still exist). This problem is not unique to computers -
those who study radio and radar technology run into the same problems.
Serial numbers DO lie, but they are often the only clues left. One source
of serial numbers (other than those on the machines) is maintenance
documents - especially those concerning ECOs. Often they have notes to
the techinicians concerning which machines (by ranges of serials) get the
I did get a good book from an NYC sidewalk vendor the other day -
*Innovating for Failure, Government Policy and the Early British Computer
Industry* by John Hendry. Somewhere he managed to dig up all sorts of
information concerning British and U.S. mainframes in the 1960s,
including a census (yes, I know all of the micro lovers on the list are
just DYING to know how many IBM 360/30s were around in 1966!).
Unfortuneately, he does not give a source.