Honeywell’s Kitchen Computer: The First Home Computer

May 14th, 2014 by George Farina Leave a reply »

Honeywell H316 Kitchen Home Computer
The Kitchen Computer is widely recognized as the very first home computer offered to consumers. This monstrosity weighted in at over 100lbs and was mostly used to store and display recipes. The Kitchen Computer was a luxury item as only the wealthiest of wealthy were able to afford this machine. It was offered for sale at Neiman Marcus stores for $10,000. That would be about 65K today. Imagine having to pony-up 65K for a computer! Forget that! Luckily, that’s not necessary. For under a hundred dollars a small tablet could be purchased and used to store virtually every recipe known to mankind.

One of the main reasons the Kitchen Computer wasn’t a success was because it wasn’t user friendly. Once purchased the new owner needed to take a two week programing class so they could learn how to enter and read recipes. To enter recipes a series of zeros and ones known as binary code would need to be programed into the computer. When a recipe was requested the computer would display a pattern of coded flashing lights. The user would then need to decipher the coded lights to understand the recipe. Yes, I know what you’re thinking! That sounds like a lot of extra work for a single meal. To make things worse, the Kitchen Computer was rather large and wouldn’t fit in many kitchens.

This futuristic looking machine was made by Honeywell. Technically it’s name was H316. Introduced in 1965 the H316 didn’t last long due to its many drawbacks and high price. Though, the computer did possess some cool features. It had the ability to suggest a meal based on a particular side dish. It came with a built in cutting/rolling board and the 1969 model came with pre-programed recipes. Plus, it looked very cool. Today there is only one Kitchen Computer known to be in existence. It can be seen at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA.

Honeywell H316 Kitchen Home Computer 1969

A closer look at the H316 Honeywell Kitchen Computer. This is the 1969 version with the stand.

 

Honeywell H316 Kitchen Home Computer Ad

Neiman Marcus’s original advertisement featuring the Kitchen Computer from their catalog.

1 comment

  1. Doubletime says:

    That thing looks cooler than most computers today. Setting one of these computers up in the kitchen must of been quite the project. No matter, I would still very much like to have one in my collection of vintage computers.

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