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Medical Computer - Searle, PDP8/1, 1971-1987 Object Reg. No: ST 044170

Summary:
Searle medical computer, based on the PDP8/1 computer, donated by the Shepherd Foundation.

The Shepherd Foundation opened its Automated Multiphasic Health Testing (AMHT) Centre in South Melbourne in May 1971. The computer was the heart and brain of the centre.

A patient would be referred to the Centre by their doctor. A computerised questionnaire was completed covering many aspects of the patient's medical and personal history information such as pulse rate and blood pressure as well results from electrocardiograph and chest X-rays. A report, including advice, was then sent to the referring doctor. The initial charge was $50, most of which was covered by Medicare. Initially, patronage was limited but soon, and for the next 16 years, the Centre flourished. Amongst its many achievements, the two that stand out relate to female patients - the introduction of mammography for women over 50 years old and of pap smears.

In May 1987, AMHT was removed from the Medicare approved list. Because there were not enough funds to continue, many staff were retrenched. In December 1987, the centre was closed.
Description:
The computer consists of three rectangular cabinets joined together. The front and back are mainly coloured black, while the sides are grey. The front consists of blank panels and panels with switches and monitoring and control devices. Some of the panels are covers, which can be removed. There is one panel which can be pulled out revealing circuitry. The backs of the three cabinets are three black doors.
On the front of the right hand cabinet, there are two tape reel storage pockets with two containers with brown magnetic tape reels inside, and a paper tape output with some blue paper tape protruding. On the front of the middle cabinet there is a magnetic tape drive with two empty reels.
If the back door of the middle cabinet is opened, a 'total hours 'counter is revealed.

The computer is accompanied by the following items:
? Users' manual for a Video Terminal Type VT50, published by Digital Equipment Corporation, 1975
? Manual for a Printer Type LP08, published by Digital Equipment Corporation,1971
? Maintenance manual for a Data Multiplexer Type DM01, published by Manufactured by Digital Equipment Corporation, 1972
? Manual for a Tape Reader/Writer Type PC04/PC05, published by Digital Equipment Corporation, 1973
? Maintenance manual for Disk Types RF08 & RS08, published by Digital Equipment Corporation, 1969
? Maintenance manual for Disk Types RF08 & RS08, published by Digital Equipment Corporation, 1970
? Engineering specification for a DECtape Type TC08, published by Digital Equipment Corporation, 1970
? Replacement schematics for a PDP-8/1 Computer, published by Digital Equipment Corporation, 1965
? Master drawing list for a Searle Medical Computer, published by Digital Equipment Corporation, late 1960s-early 1970s
? Engineering manual for a PDP8/1 computer, published by Digital Equipment Corporation, late 1960s
? Random exerciser manual for a PDP8/1 computer, published by Digital Equipment Corporation, 1967
? Instruction manual for a PDP8/1 computer, published by Digital Equipment Corporation, 1970
? Software manual for a PDP8/1 computer, published by Digital Equipment Corporation, 1967
? Binary loader manual for a PDP8/1 computer, published by Digital Equipment Corporation, 1967
? Instruction manual for a PDP8/1 computer, published by Digital Equipment Corporation, 1968
? Paper tape containing an unknown program used in the Searle Medical Computer, 1965-1975
? Paper tape containing a Disk Data test Program used in the Searle Medical Computer, 1973
? Paper tape containing a Binary Loader program used in the Searle Medical Computer, 1967
? Paper tape containing an Octal Memory Dump program used in the Searle Medical Computer, 1969
? Magnetic Tape on Reel containing a Computer Diagnostic used in the Searle Medical Computer, 1967
? Standard identity card for patient access to the Medidata Patient Data Acquisition System in the Searle Medical Computer,1968-1987
Statement Of Significance:
The Searle medical computer, donated by the Shepherd Foundation, is an early example of the use of digital technology in medicine. The Shepherd Foundation introduced a computerised technique called Automated Multiphasic Health Testing (AMHT).

AMHT was used for patient data gathering, analysis, storage, and print-out.

The history of AMHT has been marked by controversy. Some members of the medical profession have seen AMHT as a form of population health screening with its possible adverse effects such as incorrect or over-diagnosis. Others view it as a valuable tool applying to the whole health care process.
Acquisition Information:
Donation from Shepherd Foundation
Discipline: Technology
Dimensions: 1810 mm (Height), 1600 mm (Width), 780 mm (Length)

More information

Tagged with: healthcare medicine, medical diagnostic tests, computer hardware, medical examinations
Themes this item is part of: Information & Communication Collection, Medicine in Society Collection
Primary Classification: COMPUTING & CALCULATING
Secondary Classification: Digital Computing
Tertiary Classification: computer systems
Inscriptions: Top of front of right cabinet: SEARLE / Searle Medidata Inc
Panel below tape pockets on front of right cabinet: SMI MODEL DATA PROCESSOR / SEARLE MEDIDATA Inc., / WALTHAM, MASSACHUSETTS
Counter in the back of the middle cabinet: (printed)120 V 60 CT / (counter read-out) 982917 / (printed) TOTAL HOURS
Manufacturer of Component: Searle Medidata Inc, Waltham, Massachusetts, United States of America, 1965-1975

The computer was manufactured by DEC and Searle Medidata manufactured the scanner and developed and supplied the software.
Manufacturer: Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), Maynard, Massachusetts, United States of America, 1965-1975
User: Shepherd Foundation, South Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 1971-1987
References: Shepherd Foundation website http://www.shepherdfoundation.org.au/history/ accessed 11 November 2011

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