y2k bug stuffed animal
Another Beyond-the-Box Program of
Voices of Old Technology - A Museum in the Making
at Queens College

Taken from the QC Library Newsletter Pagedown
Spring 2001

Voices of Old Technology:  A Museum in the Making
by Lisa Flanzraich
Media Services Librarian

This semester the Library was graced with the fascinating exhibit The Voices of Old Technology.  Curated by Syd Lefkoe (Registrar's Office) and her assistants Nancy Williams (Godwin-Ternbach) and former student Jeff Castellan, the exhibit showcase a cornucopia of mechanical artifacts from the past 70 years.  Representing a technological history of Queens College, CUNY, and New York City, the show included items from private collections as well as items maintained for a College collection.

Filling both display cases on the second and third floors of the Library, the exhibit was chock-full of old photographs, news clippings, and realia to show a timeline back to when we were not as automated as we are now.  Much of the material on view foreshadowed the computer age to come.

For example, as early as the 1930s, Pitney Bowes introduced the Mailomat vending machne, which allowed customers to self-service mail, hailing current day online postal service.  The online classroom at Queens College was traced back to 1976, with Professor Louis Geller's accounting and information systems course.  Keyboards were hooked up on-line to an interactive computer to teach the application of computers to accounting and financial problems.

Photographs of old-fashioned computers, like the 1946 ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer), which weighed 30 tons, emphasized the role of the computer in the war effort.  The Holleriths machine sorted punch cards, allowing the Nazis to demographically single out the Jews during the 1930s and pointed to how technology was used for malevolence.

Syd Lefkoe salvaged unwanted treasures from Powdermaker Hall, I Building, Jefferson Hall, and added items from her own collection.  She hopes these collections will grown into a Museum of Technology at Queens College (possibly The Tech Museum@Queens College).  Syd, we can't wait!  For more information, visit    www.qc.edu/~techmuse. [Note: The current site is www.qc.edu/techmuse .]

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