Prior to 1896, data processing and calculation in Hawai‘i were undertaken manually. In that year, however, A. V. Gear advertised the Comptometer, a pioneering adding machine, for sale, and Hawai‘i took its first faltering steps into the world of automatic data processing.
The earliest desk calculator in the Islands was a hand-cranked Marchant, obtained by Fred R. Harvey when he became the first local distributor for the manufacturer in late 1911 or early 1912.
The first punched-card equipment consisted of IBM card punches, sorter, and tabulator installed in the offices of the Hawaiian Pineapple Company in November 1930.
The first electronic computer in Hawai‘i was an IBM 650—an early mainframe—put into operation in the Honolulu offices of Libby, McNeill & Libby in November 1956.
In recent years, computing equipment has become smaller, lighter and faster. Electronic desk calculators were sold in Honolulu by 1966. Five years later, in 1971, a local department store advertised the first electronic pocket calculator to be offered in Hawai‘i. It was 4 by 6-1/2 by 3 inches in size, and retailed at $345. Minicomputers, advertised the same year, were followed in 1977 by ads for microcomputers and in 1982 by the early personal computers.
By Robert C. Schmitt