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H > HONEYWELL > H316 - Kitchen computer

H316 - Kitchen computer

Don Kelemen was the industrial designer of the 316 pedestal computer:
The unit had a steel frame that supported a cpu and a huge power supply. The fibreglass enclosure was a promotional marketing idea and never ment for production. The basic H316 came in a desk top model for industrial and military use. The "kitchen computer" was the featured product for the Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog. Every year they feature something expensive or unusual for Christmas. The H316 was featured in Playboy, Life, and over the news wires, so it succeded in it's marketing purpose. Unfortunitly we sold some so we had to build a small production run. The display behind the "windshield" was a series of light pipes that carried light from the internal bulb to the rear of the windshield. And contrary to the article the surface was never a cutting board, but a place to rest code manuals so you could program the machine. Besides being the first fibreglass enclosure, Honeywell was the first to use structural foam for an enclosure and bezels on later models. The H316 could be configured with an impact printer, tape drive, and disk drive (these units were huge)

Bill Sisti installed the first Kitchen computer...
I actually had the good luck to be one of the techs that insatalled the first Kitchen Computer in NYC for the Nieman-Marcus Christmas book press conference.
The H-316 was a slower version of the H-516, but in place of several hundred upacs to make up the processor, the H-316 had the entire processor contained on 11 PWA's. To run the Kitchen computer, a total of 4 4K memory stacks were required, up from the base config of 4K.  The frame on the first few were made of fiberglass over pine 2x4's, and after taking them apart several times (using regular wood lag screws) the holes would be shot.
Output was to a ASR 35 teletype, a rather huge device.  Most H-316 customers got either an ASR-33 or ASR-33 and high speed paper tape reader. The black strip you see aboce the control panel was actually smoked plastic, with the 16 bit lights behind it.  Sadly, as a cost savings, the grounds for the lights were a continual single wire, soldered in place so a burned out light required taking the system down to replace.  Later versions put the light in the bit switch, but that proved just as bad as the switch then had to be replaced every time the light burned out, and flicking the switch could cause bulb failures on a frequent basis.

If my memory is correct, the recipes were not stored in the computer.  Rather, the computer gave you a selection (like beef) and suggested side dishes.  Then, once you selected your menu, it referred you to the page in the cookbook that came with the system.  The "flying wing was not a cutting board as some suspected, but a place to go through the cookbook to see if you wanted to reject the menu selections.  I don't know if any of these systems sold as a Kitchen Computer, but I did see one or two installed in customer sites.

Several interesting notes about the press conference... The 16K of memory would not work, and it was not until 1 hour before the start of the conference we discovered due to a manufacturing change, the signals through the new and old style memorys were reversed and we had to recable the memory.  Not trusting the system due to this last second change, we typed up a full set of output messages on black paper tape and during the press conference used the ASR-35 to read the tape so it looked like the system was "talking".  Also, the next day, the system was to debut on the TODAY show.  However, the NY METS won the world series the day before (during the Neiman Marcas press conference) and the Kitchen Computer was bumped so the METS would be on the Today show.

Just as a point of clarity.  The H-416 was identical to the H-516 with the exception it did not have high speed math functionality (multiply and divide).  The 416 was cost reduced and intended to be used only as a message concentrator where "high math" was not required.
While the 716 was in fact somewhat commercially sucessful, it was replaced by the DPS-6/Series 6 product line which was not software compatable with the series 16 products.

More technical information from Alex Grant:
The H316 contained a number of 16-bit registers: The program counter, a memory register used to transfer information to and from memory, an address register containing the location that the previous register was currently using, an index register used in address modification, two arithmetic registers, and an additional 1-bit overflow register. It also had an adder constructed from common logic gates used to perform any arithmetic operations. I don't believe it had any real CPU other than these and other constructions of logic gates.

Michael Amici adds:
Apparently the unit utilized a programing language called BACK (a two week course was offered to the buyer) and made use of a teletype printer.

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