Hewlett-Packard 1300A X-Y Display  
Written by Accutron on 2012-05-22  

The HP 1300A was a revolution in scientific display technology. Introduced in the late 1960s, the 1300A utilized a new type of CRT which incorporated an expansion mesh post-accelerator, a component which dramatically increased the screen size to tube length ratio. This allowed for a much larger display to be housed in a chassis of standard depth. The 1300A featured a 14" screen, at a time when a typical high-speed scientific vector display measured 5". This dramatic increase in display size resulted in an explosion of graphical output applications, supplanting the once-prevalent numerical and dial readouts of the past. The 1300A was rapidly implemented in various HP systems, and is the vector display of choice for early HP minicomputers.

The HP 1300A would go on to become the world's first commercially available graphical CRT computer display, and is credited with a number of noteworthy accomplishments:

-The 1300A was the surgery room display in the world's first artificial heart transplant, an artificial left ventricle device designed and implanted by Dr. Michael DeBakey in 1967.

-The 1300A was used by computer engineer Alan Kay in his FLEX "personal computer". Kay was influenced to adopt a graphical interface after witnessing Doug Engelbart's demonstration of the Computer Network as part of the legendary "Mother of all Demos". Engelbart's demonstration also used a 1300A display.

-The 1300A was the display in the first coin-operated video arcade system, Galaxy Game, a student-built machine at Stanford University. Much like Atari's commercially produced Computer Space arcade machine, Galaxy Game ran a variant of Space War. Unlike the Atari system, which used consumer-grade custom hardware, Galaxy Game ran on a DEC PDP11/20 minicomputer. Galaxy Game predated the release of Computer Space by two months.

Despite its widespread use in the late 1960s and 1970s, the 1300A is quite rare today. Undoubtedly many have met the same fate as other, less prestigious CRTs, and were recycled into beer cans many years ago.

Hewlett-Packard 1300A X-Y Display

This article is part of the [Electronic Test Equipment] exhibit.

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