The Honeywell H316 Kitchen Computer

Valerie Aurora meets the Honeywell H316 Kitchen Computer


Hello! It is 1969, and my wonderful husband has bought me a Honeywell Kitchen Computer to help me with my cooking! It is a $10,000+ status symbol from the Nieman Marcus catalog. It will replace my unwieldy and difficult to use recipe box. How I love my Kitchen Computer! And my husband!

The Kitchen Computer is both stylish and functional. See its sleek lines, bright red accents, and handy built-in counter top? It matches my dress! And my lipstick!

When I was dusting, I noticed that all that messy electronic stuff is safely hidden away inside the pedestal. How tidy! No one wants a naked H316 in their kitchen - that would be unsanitary! Here is a view of the air vent underneath.

Now, how do I use my wonderful new Kitchen Computer? Gosh, let me see... It looks like I have about 30 little switches, with helpful labels like "SENSE" and "REGISTER" and "P/Y". Oh, I like this one, it says "FETCH". What happens when I push that? Oh, look, 16 little lights are flashing on and off behind that pane of dark glass! They look like little Christmas lights! That's wonderful, but how do I read the recipes?

Let me read the brochure. Oh, it looks like I need to take a class to learn how to use the wonderful Kitchen Computer... a two week long class?!? I have to cook dinner for my husband every night; how am I going to take two weeks off for a class? And in this class I will... learn how to read the recipes in binary using the little flashing lights? What???

What a piece of junk! What idiot thought this was a good idea? I hate my Kitchen Computer! I hate my husband! I'm going to divorce him and go get a job designing computers that don't suck!


The Kitchen Computer is a real product. The only part of the preceding story that is not technically correct is the part where someone actually bought a Kitchen Computer, an event which has not been proven to have ever occurred. You can read more about the Kitchen Computer in Dag Spicer's article on computers and kitchens in Dr. Dobb's Journal. You can see it in person at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, currently housed next to the first production Google rack (in the background of the photos to the left of the Kitchen Computer).

For extra added irony, read Val's resume.

Thanks to Jen Wu for coming up with the idea for the photo shoot. Thanks to the Computer History Museum for allowing me to conduct an improptu photo shoot, and letting me borrow a camera when mine broke. Thanks to Lina Mårtensson for taking these pictures and loaning me her camera as well.

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