Riding with the Bit Savers
Since 1997, a dedicated team of scanners and curators have been assembling a collection of historical computer and technology-related items. This collection, called BITSAVERS.ORG, contains tens of thousands of documents and software products dating back from the 1950s and into the 2000s. From the days of mainframes and electronic counting machines through the home computer revolution and the short lives and shorter support of various pieces of equipment, Bitsavers volunteers have been scanning industriously. There are piles of manuals and brochures, as well as guides and overviews, that have been cast aside in favor of the next big thing. Bitsavers has been working tirelessly to rescue these lost documents.
And now, they are mirrored on the Internet Archive.
Currently, over 23,000 individual manuals, books, memos, and guides are hosted on the Archive in the collection, automatically ported over from the Bitsavers mirrors.
Every week, a dozen or more new documents join the Bitsavers archive, from all reaches of technological history. Whether you want to browse the original manual for the Apple I or learn the benefits of a Sanders Associates 5700 Tape System, there’s something for every person interested in seeing where computing has come from.
Some other gems in the collection:
- Rare Atari 400/800 technical reference notes and operating system source code from the Atari corporation.
- The proper way to handle a 5 1/4″ floppy disk.
- A history of the TX-0, the transistorized computer built in 1956 that represented the playground of beginning hacker culture. (The document, from 1999, is a reprint of a 1974 history.)
- A lost-for-decades history of the Whirlwind Project (an early important research computer) which was intended for publication in 1967 but never ultimately distributed.
- An eye-opening glance into the complicated instructions for using a word processor in 1985.
- That time someone put an entire Apple I circuit board into a scanner.
- A 1950s education from IBM about how all their functional wiring works, including punchcards, printers, and controls.
Whether for research, nostalgia, or interesting inspiration for artwork and writing, the millions of scanned pages in the Bitsavers collection are a click away from the collection page. Where possible, further sub-collections for companies like IBM, DEC and Control Data Corporation are also available.
A toast to this flood of computer history!