If you walked along the ground floor corridor of the Fairhurst Building last summer, you would have seen a display cabinet reflecting five decades of computing artefacts. The contents came from my collection of 'classic computers'.
|5 decades of computing at the University - click for key|
|Pete and his SGI 2000|
Why do people collect these things? Well, they aren't all static museum pieces. Most run, and some have practical use in data recovery. There's also a movement to preserve history and heritage. Of course the real reasons for my collection are just nostalgia and entertainment.
Many of the machines have needed repair, restoration or 'improvement', and that's part of the fun. I designed and built the single-board micro mentioned above, loosely based on magazine articles of the day. I recall a trip to Cambridge to collect pre-production Zilog Z8 parts for it in 1984. Cutting edge stuff, 32K memory on a single chip. Fault diagnosis too can be a rewarding intellectual exercise, though ideally away from children easily confused by short 'technical' words.
|The PDP-8 - now fresh and clean|
A common method of cleaning circuit boards in small production houses is to put them in a domestic dishwasher, so that's what happened. (If you try this, don't use caustic detergent and don't use the hot drying cycle.) Actually I own a number of useful pieces of equipment for computer care, and as several are located in the kitchen, my wife uses them too. For example, our large high temperature paint dryer also produces excellent cakes and roast meats, while the small-parts cleaner and drier can both be used for laundry. Just remember to photograph the keyboard layout before you remove the keycaps and put them in the pillowcase...