The Elusive Kitchen Computer

Jun 7th, 2014 | By | Category: Poorts

Kitchen Computer

Honeywell Computer 1969

An ad for the Kitchen Computer. The tagline is “If she can only cook as well as Honeywell can compute”. A Honeywell 316 in a pedestal model is on display at the Computer History Museum, Mountain View, California

The Honeywell Kitchen Computer or H316 pedestal model of 1969 was a short-lived product offered by Neiman Marcus as one of a continuing series of extravagant gift ideas.[6] It sold for $10,000 ($63,730 in 2013 dollars), weighed over 100 pounds (over 45kg), and was advertised as useful for storing recipes. Reading or entering these recipes would have been nearly impossible for the average housewife or cook, since the user interface required the user to complete a two-week course just to learn how to program the device, using only toggle-switch input and binary light output. It had a built in cutting board and had a few recipes built in. No evidence has been found that any Honeywell Kitchen Computers were ever sold.

The full text of the Neiman-Marcus 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. $10,600.00 complete with two week programming course.

Although a fantasy gift, the Kitchen Computer represented the first time a computer was offered as a consumer product.

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