The Strange History of the Honeywell Kitchen Computer

By Jason Fitzpatrick on November 26th, 2012

In 1969 the Honeywell corporation released a $10,000 kitchen computer that weighed 100 pounds, was as big as a table, and required advanced programming skills to use. Shockingly, they failed to sell a single one. Read on to be dumbfounded by how ahead of (and out of touch with) its time the Honeywell Kitchen Computer was.

Wired delves into the history of the device, including how difficult it was to use:

Now try to imagine all that in late 1960s kitchen. A full H316 system wouldn’t have fit in most kitchens, says design historian Paul Atkinson of Britain’s Sheffield Halam University. Plus, it would have looked entirely out of place. The thought that an average person, like a housewife, could have used it to streamline chores like cooking or bookkeeping was ridiculous, even if she aced the two-week programming course included in the $10,600 price tag.

If the lady of the house wanted to build her family’s dinner around broccoli, she’d have to code in the green veggie as 0001101000. The kitchen computer would then suggest foods to pair with broccoli from its database by “speaking” its recommendations as a series of flashing lights. Think of a primitive version of KITT, without the sexy voice.

Hit up the link below for the full article.

Before the iPad, There Was the Honeywell Kitchen Computer [Wired]

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 11/26/12
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