by Jasmin Grecea on Mon, March 18, 2013 at 12:03 AM
We sat down to talk to David Larsen about his collection of historical computers, especially his 4 Apple-1 computers, he has at his “Bugbook Historical Microcomputer Museum”. David has spent more than 40 years collecting computers. At the age of 10, he began his interest in electronics when he received a Crystal Radio Set and in 1954 received his Ham radio license (KK4WW). His first intro to computers wasn’t until the Navy sent him on an assignment at Remington Rand UNIVAC in 1957. UNIVAC was the name of one of the first mainframe computers. After the Navy, he went to work as a faculty member at Virginia Tech (VT) teaching Instrumentation and Automation for 31 years. David retired from VT in 1998 and continued building his microcomputer historical collection.
David’s entire professional career has been involved with computers. He became fascinated with microcomputers when the first commercially produced microprocessor CPU was made available in 1971, the Intel 4004 microprocessor. David has thousands of computers and computer memorabilia in his warehouse inventoried and stored. David was also part of the Blacksburg Group who produced over 75 books in the original “Bugbook” and the “Blacksburg Continuing Education” series. These were some of the first books wrote for microcomputers. One of his colleagues, Dr. John Titus which was also part of the Blacksburg Group, designed one of the first computers in 1974 that people could build at home known as the Mark 8. David recently donated one of his MARK 8 microcomputers to the museum maintained by the “Mid-Atlantic Retro Computing Hobbyist” (MARCH) group.
David’s historical computer collection came from donations or purchases during his 40+ years as a collector. The author of “A Collector’s Guide to Personal Computers and Pocket Calculators”, Dr. Thomas F. Haddock donated his large computer collection to David. Another favorite and most valued item in David’s collection is the Apple-1 computer. It was designed by Steve Wozniak (Woz) in 1976 and was the computer that started the Apple Computer company. David has four of these computers in his collection, including one of them in a wooden case with keyboard. It was the first computer produced by the Apple Computer company and is very valuable due to it's popularity. In addition to this one, he has another with ‘Woz’ written on the original shipping box. This one was given to Jim Schoolsky by Woz and David purchased it from Schoolsky in the early 90's. In November of 2010, an Apple-1 computer was auctioned for $210,000. Several others have been auctioned for even higher values. There are only about 40 known computers in circulation today.
There is one item David hasn’t been able add to his collection and that is a Xerox Alto computer that was virtually ahead of its time by 10 years. This computer was demonstrated by Xerox in 1974 which had a mouse, graphical user interface, an object-oriented OS, and with the first Ethernet card. That is a huge milestone for those of you who are not familiar with computers. However Xerox never commercially sold the Alto. David continues to collect historical microcomputers and one of the most recent additions is an Osborne “Executive” made in 1981.
Have you ever seen an Edison Bulb? Well, I have now because David has one from the late 1800s. This is the oldest item in hiscollection and by far a must collection item for any avid electronics collector. After all, without electricity electronics would not have been able to exist. David is also an avid collector of calculators and has a huge collection of these as well.
As if this wasn’t enough, David recently had his “Chantilly Festival Farm” used in filming a movie in Floyd, Virginia. I’m sure you have heard of a horror movie called, House of Good and Evil. David had a small role in the movie as “The Woodsman” and also was one of the Executive producers. David has led an interesting life from staying on cutting edge technology trends to assisting in producing a movie, and continues to do so.
What computers do you have in your collection?
David Larsen says on Fri, April 5, 2013 at 03:03:23 AM
Jasmin - Thank you for posting this - I sure like all the brags and find you site most interesting.
Bounce to Top