MCM/70 @ 50 Exhibit


On December 28, 1971, Canadian entrepreneur and inventor Merslow (Mers) Kutt incorporated Kutt Systems Inc. in Toronto, to design, manufacture, and market computing devices for personal use. The company, renamed Micro Computer Machines (MCM) a year later, bet its future on the pace of innovation in the rapidly developing semiconductor industry, aiming at profoundly altering the way society perceives, employs, and interacts with computers. The product that MCM launched two years later–the MCM/70–was a small, microprocessor-based desk-top computer designed to:

bridge the gap between the sophisticated calculators that offer simplicity of operation but fail to provide the information processing capability of the computer... and the large, complex computers that require such high degrees of training and experience as to place them beyond the operational capabilities of most people who want to use them. [MCM, 1973]

The computer, it was hoped, would open up a new personal computer market and appeal to both experts and novices alike:

The simplicity of the MCM/70 and its associated computer language (known as APL) make personal computer use and ownership a reality... Enjoy the privilege of having your own personal computer – it's a privilege no computer user has ever had before the MCM/70... Good luck, and welcome to the computer age! [MCM/70 User's Manual, 1973]

The MCM/70 was officially unveiled on September 25, 1973, at the Royal York Hotel in downtown Toronto, and then in Boston and New York. What MCM introduced that September was not only its portable PC but also a new computing paradigm that challenged the domination of massive and expensive mainframe computers requiring the kind of space and financial resources that could only be mustered by large corporations. Small PCs, claimed MCM, were to redefine the relationship between society and computers and make widespread, personal information processing a reality. During the MCM/70's introduction, Kutt, the inventor of the MCM/70 and MCM's first president, painted computing's future landscape as one filled with millions of small computers, just like the MCM/70, and only a limited number of large ones.

Fifty years after the MCM/70's arrival, as envisaged by MCM, computing has become a commodity accessible to everyone, anytime, anywhere.

The MCM/70 @ 50 exhibit is organized by the York University Computer Museum in collaboration with York University Libraries. It celebrates the momentous appearance of the MCM/70 computer – a technological marvel that offered an early glimpse of a new digital reality. It pays tribute to the makers of the MCM/70 for their contributions to personal computing.

The exhibit features a complete line of MCM computers from the museum's MCM collection, including an MCM/70 computer and its first prototype. Among the exhibited images are pictures taken during the unveiling of the computer in Toronto and those depicting former MCM engineers reunited with the MCM/70, reflecting on the creativity, enthusiasm, and dedication they put to realize their computer concept and deliver their creation into the new world of personal computing.

The MCM/70 @ 50 exhibit is made possible by the generosity of Lee Lau and support from the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at York University. It inaugurates the museum's LINK exhibit series.

Exhibit's location: Steacie Science and Engineering Library, York University

Exhibit's catalog: can be accessed here.

MCM/70@50 Exhibit video: can be accessed here.

MCM/70 @ 50 Exhibit