W. Grey Walter, I.B.M., Charles Eames & The Tortoise

Why are all these names together in a post title?

Well, one of the 1951 batch of 6 tortoises was sent off to a museum. Actually, is was on loan to Charles Eames (yes, the same Eames who was a designer, amongst other things) who was contracted to design and mount an exhibition for the computer company IBM.

The exhibition was called "A Computer Perspective" and ran from 17th February 1971 and remained on view until the middle of 1975. It started life in the IBM Exhibit Center, New York , N.Y..

A catalogue, more a book was produced of the exhibition. One aspect of the exhibition was a display wall divided up into decades.  Here is a picture of the wall.  If you open and zoom in on the picture, you will see the tortoise in the upper right hand side.

Here is a picture of it as it appeared in the catalogue.

There is also a similar picture held in the BNI archives, but when I saw it it was not known when and where the picture was from. The Science Musuem archives now have the updated information.

The photographs are not sharp enough to see the chassis stampings, so we don't know which number it is (1 to 4). Another visual difference is the size and location of the rear wheels. The wheels are smaller than normal, and so a lower axle hole has been drilled to compensate.

I found a video clip of this exhibition, but it was before I knew much about saving video clips. I took a rather small still picture of it, but after many hours of trying to find it again I have to admit to not being able to relocate it. Being a static model it is not such an issue. 

The exhibition ended 1975 . Grey Walter retired 1975 and died 1977. 

CHALLENGE: Maybe someone living in New York or who works for IBM can track down the history of the exhibition. The tortoise may be in an IBM or Ray and Charles Eames archive, in someones possession as they could not find the loaner, or it was thrown out.  


Tags: , , , ,

This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 15th, 2009 at 3:32 pm and is filed under ELSIE, W. Grey Walter. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Comments are closed.