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Felsenstein (Lee) papers
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Collection Details
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  • Biographical / Historical
  • Scope and Contents
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Preferred Citation
  • Conditions Governing Use

  • Language of Material: English
    Contributing Institution: Department of Special Collections and University Archives
    Title: Lee Felsenstein papers
    creator: Felsenstein, Lee.
    Identifier/Call Number: M1443
    Physical Description: 56 Linear Feet
    Date (inclusive): circa 1975-2007
    Physical Location: Special Collections and University Archives materials are stored offsite and must be paged 36 hours in advance.
    Abstract: The papers of computer designer Lee Felsenstein contain material about the development of personal computers through the 1970s and 80s.

    Biographical / Historical

    Lee Felsenstein is an electronic design engineer known for his contributions to the early history of personal computing. Born in Philadelphia, PA in 1945, Felsenstein studied electrical engineering and computer science at the University of California, Berkeley, where he took part in the 1964 Free Speech Movement protests and was employed as a junior engineer at Ampex. Working as a contract engineer since the 1970’s, much of Felsenstein’s output has focused on making personal computing more publicly accessible. His contributions to the history of computing include designing the 1973 Pennywhistle modem, an early acoustic coupler modem affordable to hobbyists, and the Osborne 1, the first commercially successful portable computer, released by the Osborne Computer Corporation in 1981. Additionally, Felsenstein is known for co-founding the Community Memory Project, a publicly-accessible computer bulletin board system self-branded as an “information flea market,” in 1973, and for his role from 1975 to 1986 as moderator of the Homebrew Computer Club, a Silicon Valley-based group of computing enthusiasts whose membership included Bob Marsh, Steve Wozniak, Adam Osborne, and Jerry Lawson, among others.
    Felsenstein also designed Processor Technology’s SOL-20 microcomputer, a popular hobbyist’s computer terminal released in 1976, and the VDM-1, an inexpensive video display module that served as a blueprint for the architecture of personal computing, released in 1975. Felsenstein has additionally engaged in nonprofit efforts such as the Jhai PC, a ‘remote village IT system’ designed for usage in rural jungle environments in Laos, and the Free Speech Movement Archives, an online hub for information related to the 1964-1965 Berkeley protests that Felsenstein himself took part in.
    In 1994, the Electronic Frontier Foundation awarded Lee Felsenstein a Pioneer Award for his contributions to personal computing. He was made a laureate of the Tech Museum of Innovation in 2003, and was made a Fellow of the Computer History Museum in 2016 “for his influence on the technical and social environment of the early personal computing era”.

    Scope and Contents

    Material was rehoused and listed by box. Series were created after the fact and descriptions rearranged for readability.
    The collection is arranged in eight series:
    Series 1: Community Memory Project Series 2: Golemics Series 3: Homebrew Computer Club Series 4: LGC Engineering Series 5: Osborn Computer Corporation Series 6: Village Design Series 7: Upstart Corporation Series 8: Accession 2017-243

    Conditions Governing Access

    Open for research except for Series I: Community Memory Project, Subseries 1.6: Payroll, which is closed until Jan. 1, 2060. Computer media is also closed until processed. Note that material must be requested at least 36 hours in advance of intended use.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    This collection was given by Lee Felsenstein to Stanford University, Special Collections in 2004 and 2017.

    Preferred Citation

    [identification of item], Lee Felsenstein Papers (M1443). Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives, Stanford Libraries, Stanford, Calif.

    Conditions Governing Use

    While Special Collections is the owner of the physical and digital items, permission to examine collection materials is not an authorization to publish. These materials are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study. Any transmission or reproduction beyond that allowed by fair use requires permission from the owners of rights, heir(s) or assigns.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Science -- History.
    Computer industry -- United States -- History
    Felsenstein, Lee.
    Homebrew Computer Club
    Community Memory Project (Calif.)
    Golemics (Firm)