Scope & Content
The Cabrinety Collection on the History of Microcomputing is a collection of commercially available computer hardware, software, realia and ephemera, and printed materials documenting the emergence of the microcomputer in the late 1970s until 1995. Specifically, the collection documents the rise of computer games, with a focus on games for Atari, Commodore, Amiga, Sega, Nintendo, and Apple systems. As such, the software collection documents the increased technical ability of computer software programmers and the growing sophistication of computer-generated graphics from the early days of games like Pong to the current era of game systems like Nintendo 64.
Additionally, the software collection contains commercial software programmed for 27 different operating systems. It showcases several formats for the storage of machine-readable data files, from the 8 in., 5¼ in., and 3 ½ in. computer disks to computer cassettes, computer cartridges, as well as 4 ¾ in. computer laser optical disks (CD-ROMs). The collection itself consists of 6,300 pieces of computer software, of which fully two-thirds are computer games. The rest of the collection consists of communications, productivity, utility, educational, and entertainment software programs which document the increasingly complex role of the personal computer has played in our daily lives at the end of the 20th century. The computer software is arranged roughly by operating system. Whenever possible, we have captured information about the manufacturer or vendor of the software, the nature of the program, the software name, the operating system or platform for which it is intended, the date of production, and the format of the machine-readable data file.
The Cabrinety Collection also contains over 400 pieces of computer hardware, including motherboards, monitors, central processing units, disks drives and printers, as well as complete microcomputer systems. These pieces date from the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s. Accompanying this, the collection contains more than 200 pieces of computer-related realia and peripherals, with an emphasis on hand-held devices such as joysticks, paddles, and hand-held game units. When available, we have captured the name of the manufacturer or vendor of the hardware, a description of the hardware, model and serial numbers associated with each component, and the date of production.
Cabrinety also collected a diverse array of computer-related documents, from ephemeral pieces to serials to books and user manuals. In all, this collection contains nearly 20 linear feet of printed materials whose richness is primarily in the user's manuals and owner's guides which would accompany the sale of computer software and operating systems.