back to article Attack of the IT monuments men: Museum wants your kit

If you think a technological legacy should be more than some undocumented code, a pile of scrap tin and half a draft user manual you really should come along to El Reg’s June 24 lecture. Kevin Murrell, co-founder of The National Museum of Computing in Bletchley (yes, that one), will be explaining why he really wants you to …


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  1. TRT Silver badge


    My old computers turned into museum pieces to bore countless school kids on day trips in the future (providing kids actually 1. physically go to school in the future and 2. go on actual day trips out instead of sitting in a computer room using a CD-ROM virtual tour of a museum)?

    I guess that's what they meant by monolithic architecture.

    1. The Vociferous Time Waster

      Re: Wow...

      Sorry, mate, but CD-ROM virtual tours were 20 years ago.

    2. opaque

      Re: Wow...

      Try going there

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Museum piece

    A few years back now, a friend who worked for ICL came back from a trip to the Science Museum amused to see that they had a machine exhibited as "old-fashioned mini computer" (or words to that effect) when it was still available to buy in the ICL product catalogue.

    1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: Museum piece

      It must have been a fair few years back!

    2. The Vociferous Time Waster

      Re: Museum piece

      My mother in law saw her vacuum cleaner in the science museum and promptly insisted on a new one.

  3. Tim99 Silver badge

    We grow old too

    Technology generally ages fast, people tend to think that they don't. A few years ago a friend of mine was appalled to find her gym-slip marked with her name-tag as an exhibit at the Museum of Childhood at Sudbury Hall, then she realized that it was over 50 years old.

  4. Michael H.F. Wilkinson

    Things do change rapidly. I still have an 8" floppy (128 kB!!) with (supposing the magnetic layer hasn't degraded) CP/M 2.0 on it used in one of the first computers I used for image processing. I now think nothing of filling 80GB of disk space with solar data in the space of 10-15 minutes and then grumble the PC is taking a few hours to chug through that mass of data.

    1. John Geek

      8" SSSD CP/M disks (IBM 3740 format) with 128 byte sectors were 240k, not 128k.

      it was the first round of 5.25" disks that were in the 128k range.

  5. Tachikoma

    I have a 12 platter dinner plate size hard drive drum (I think it's 250MB) on my desk in work that I use to put desk toys on, and made a bracelet out of old BNC network ends, I love old kit.

    1. Steve Kerr

      I've still got an RL02 disk at home somewhere - 10MB!

  6. fruitoftheloon

    I have a great footstool


    my brother-in-law started developing computer games in his teens, he recently returned from the sunshine state to sort out some oddments in the loft of his mums house.

    Amidst the old floppies etc was a hard drive which he used to develop his first commercial game on (40mb 5 1/4 inch Seagate), including the case, psu and adaptor card it is 2 x 12 x 18 inches.

    It makes for an excellent footstool under my desk, also when younger relatives and friends pop around and ask what it is, their reaction when I tell them is a sight to behold...



  7. Doctor_Wibble

    I bet they don't want any of mine

    Which is a shame because it's all in really good almost working condition with not too much rust and not too many dents in the side and still almost beige and only produced in exclusive limited production runs of a couple of million units at a time.

    Yes, I still delude myself that someone somewhere might want some of it for spare parts when really I should face up to the fact that it needs to go on to the WEEE pile at the local tip, and that I will have no choice but to do proper penance for heartlessly evicting those poor resident spiders that just look so happy in their homes.

    1. Pookietoo

      Re: I bet they don't want any of mine

      I don't think anyone will want mine, but it's hard to sort the "total trash" from the "might be useful or interesting" - for example I want to keep some ISA motherboards to use with my collection of ISA sound cards (if they were in keyboards or rack cases they'd be "classic vintage collectable") So I start with sound cards and then I think "how about a DOS games machine?" and so it goes ... yeah, I know I can emulate them, but it's not the same.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: I bet they don't want any of mine

        "So I start with sound cards and then I think "how about a DOS games machine?" and so it goes ... yeah, I know I can emulate them, but it's not the same."

        Same here, then I think "why bother?", then I remember that emulators don't do 3DFX emulation (or do they do that now?)

      2. Doctor_Wibble

        Re: I bet they don't want any of mine

        > "total trash"

        It's not total trash, it's of extreme sentimental value!

        You insensitive clod etc etc...

  8. x 7

    can anyone think of a use for a Sinclair ZX81? I still have it knocking around somewhere...

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      A door wedge?

  9. SteveastroUk

    I got several boards of core memory pulled from something that WE thought was ancient...30 years ago...

  10. FozzyBear

    i have an old IT manager that suffers from memory leaks that I'd be happy to donate.

    1. Captain DaFt

      "i have an old IT manager that suffers from memory leaks that I'd be happy to donate."

      I'm sure if you get together with enough Reg readers, you'll be able to bundle those in units of twelve, then flog'em off at a dime a dozen.

  11. Stoneshop Silver badge

    Probably not feasible to pop over

    but I think it would be interesting to hear this talk, and exchange ideas.

    We (Computermuseum Arnhem, the Netherlands) have got a fair pile of gear starting with 1930-ish Telexes, via 1950-ish papertape-driven typewriters (MailMerge avant la lettre), the first ever programmable desktop calculator (1963), two Z80-based machines from a local manufacturer who's only ever built 200 of them before going titsup, and then of course the more common CP/M, early homecomputer, PDP and VAX stuff and 1980's workstations and Apple kit from that era.

    People are generally happy to see the computers from their youth and ones they worked on early in their career preserved, but it more or less stops there. And we're in a catch-22 situation: we're not big and accessible enough to really attract visitors, and because of that, even if we were to charge an entrance fee, it wouldn't be enough by far to be able to afford a better location, with more exhibition space, and better repair and storage facilities. We also don't really have the manpower at the moment to actually run the museum as a museum; it's open when we're there anyway, usually busy fixing machines. And there's just four of us. Occasionally we get offers for help, but so far none have turned out to have hands for digging through the pile of What's This Then And What Is It For?

    Finding kit isn't that hard, in our experience. Once you've assembled a critical mass new (old) kit accretes around it. The biggest problem is finding documentation, software and knowledge about the stuff. In that respect we've been lucky to have been offered (and taken) a cellar full of 1980-ish kit with boxes full of docs and media. Usually the gear goes into the computer room, the docs end up in the sysadmin pen or the developer's department, and they rarely get reunited at decommissioning time.

    There are other collections and computer musea over here, but for all that I know of you need to arrange a visit. Most are private collections in someone's loft or cellar. One proper, accessible, computer museum has closed from lack of funding, another is facing getting the raised floor pulled out from underneath them because the building they're in is to be sold.

    So, essentially, we're interested in finding a way forward. Preferably without getting tangled in subsidies which can be cut or revoked.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  12. Trygve Henriksen

    anyone got any disks for a HP 9816 workstation?

    I'd particularly love to get hold of a ROM card for it, preferably with Interactive Pascal...

    Until then, it'll have to languish next to my ][, the SUN SparcStations, the SGI Indigo2, the Acorn Archimedes, my Psion collection, the Osborne, the Kaypro, a Husky Hunter or two, some Z88 machines(at least one with original packaging) a couple of Tandy TRS-80 'model T's, the Epson HX-20 and the PX-4, Amstrad NC100 and 200 (anyone got a 150 they want to sell?)...

    All I need now is room and a few glass monters...

  13. deadlockvictim Silver badge


    I got my ass kicked about the Americans last night at Emperor level on Civilization on a Performa 475 [1] running Mac OS 7.1.2. I'm going to give Marathon a go afterwards. I know, I should be beating them at this stage.

    Not as vintage as the commenters above but still quite usable after 21 years,

    That being said, I had to have the capacitors on the motherboard replaced last year and it is on its second PRAM battery.

    [1] 25MHz Motorola 68LC040 processor; Now upgraded to the then very desirable 50MHz 68040.

  14. Uplink

    50 tickets

    How many readers do your analytics tell you you really have?

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