Washington DC

Technology products are not plentiful at the Smithsonian American History Museum, with only a handful of electronic devices selected as important pieces in the history of the United States. Interestingly, a few Japanese products make the cut, with Panasonic and Sony represented as indicative of American culture.


Before it was Panasonic, it was called Matsushita. One of the first Japanese companies to export to the United States, this 1976 microwave oven was sold as the ‘house brand’ at American retail JC Penney. For the trainspotters out there, the rack in the foreground is for dedicated bacon microwaving.

This testament to America’s love of mobile music includes an original Apple iPod, an early model Sony Walkman, earbuds, retro-classic headphones and an iTunes gift card. Interestingly, the Smithsonian curators decided the one cassette to include in this installation should be Pretty Hate Machine by Nine Inch Nails.

This RCA-Victor 45 RPM record player from 1949 came just as America was beginning to embrace new music styles after World War II. RCA is now owned by Sony.

From 1873, this Sholes & Glidden typewriter makes all journalists grateful to work in an era of computers. It does, however, look spectacular.

This Sony professional video camera filmed the only known video footage of the South Tower attack on 11 September 2001.

Apple has the honour of being recognised for kickstarting the professional computer revolution (incidentally, that claim is made on each and every media release sent by Apple Australia) through the display of an Apple II model. One assumes the Smithsonian paid full price when it purchased this model!

Though not a showcase of technology per se, this television installation showcases how the medium came of age during the conflict in Vietnam.