Honeywell Kitchen Computer, The $70,000 Machine That No One Bought In The Late 1960s
Original advertisement for the Kitchen Computer: “If she can only cook as well as Honeywell can compute.” Why would anyone want a computer at home? Before the personal computer era and its avalanche of possible uses, the perennial answer was: “to store recipes.”
The Honeywell Kitchen Computer, or H316 pedestal model, of 1969 was a short-lived product offered by Neiman Marcus as one of a continuing series of extravagant gift ideas. It sold for $10,600 ($70,000 in 2018 dollars), weighed over 100 pounds (over 45 kg).
The machine itself was a 16-bit minicomputer—the class right below mainframes—and its official name was actually the H316 Pedestal. It was part of the Series 16 lineup, based on the DDP-116. The Kitchen Computer had 4KB of magnetic memory, expandable to 16KB, which was pre programmed with a few recipes. Its system clock was 2.5MHz. It took 475 watts to operate.
It was advertised as a machine for storing recipes and helping housewives in their daily domestic tasks. However, reading and introducing a recipe was a difficult if not impossible task as the computer had no display and no keyboard. It required a two-week course in order to learn how to use the machine.