Goodwill Computerworks Museum is open

From: Mark Tapley <>
Date: Tue Aug 22 09:15:25 2000

Sellam, you wrote:

>Date: Sat, 19 Aug 2000 09:27:52 -0700 (PDT)
>From: Sellam Ismail <>
>Subject: Re: Goodwill Computerworks Museum is open
>On Sat, 19 Aug 2000, Bill Bradford wrote:
>> Actually it does sell quite a bit of items, but they keep select stuff
>> as part of their vintage-items museum.
>Yeah, and that select stuff could probably be selling for a goodly sum of
>money that will go towards their primary mission of helping people get
>back on their feet.
>Someone should write to Goodwill corporate and let them know this is going
>on. I'm sure it's not in their charter and I would guess they would not
>approve of valuable stock being retained for the enjoyment of a couple
>Sellam International Man of Intrigue and Danger

Disclaimer: I live in Texas, was born in Austin, and probably have some
local-boy bias floating around here somewhere.

        I agree with you in some ways. I certainly agree in that I'm very
jealous of those guys (GWCW museum). They have positioned themselves
squarely astride of the biggest, fastest-flowing stream of castaway (free)
antique computers in the state. Add to this the fact that they have the
cachet of a charitable organization to motivate donors (whereas I'm just a
grubby individual collector) and I turn green with envy.
        Now let's consider what it is they are actually doing. Like it or
not, they are already astride that stream of computers, because they are
successful at their mission. Thank goodness they have the sense and
foresight and resources to preserve the classics mixed into that stream
(particularly the very interesting ones, like the Lisas and Crays) rather
than scrapping them as so many other computer dealers, etc. do.
Furthermore, they are doing with their preserved machines exactly what I'd
do if I had the resources. They are building a very comprehensive
collection, and putting it on display for everyone to enjoy.
        Admittedly the choice of "do not touch" signs is a bit off-putting,
but honestly if my collection were on shelves with hundreds of people
walking by every hour, I'd have it behind glass. I love the idea of
teaching somebody to use my Rainbow, but *only* if I can spend the time to
teach them to turn on *both* of the kludged power switches (two SPST
replacing a single DPST) at the *same time*, always put the lower floppy
into the RX-50 *upside down*, etc. A working, hands-on museum is of course
the ideal but in a situation where the guest-to-curator ratio is above
about 5, it entails a very high risk of damage to the collection.
        I'd also like to point out, from a more selfish point of view, that
there are no more than one of any specific machine type (that I know about,
anyway) in their collection. That means all the duplicates they get do hit
their classic-computer shelves and are available to us (me). Again, that's
at least as reasonable as I'd be myself and much better than most
organizations do. (Actually I'd be inclined to keep spares myself, but then
I don't have as good a supply channel as they do.)
        The one complaint that you have with which I really can't argue is
that it's not obviously part of their company charter. However, I'd make
the reply that so it isn't, but that just means their charter is
inadequate. What they are doing benefits society, in that it is developing
and making available a great display of the history of computing. (This is
the right group to claim that's a worthy goal, right?) They also make that
collection visible to anyone, even folks of very limited means, and that's
something that no other organization in the state (region?) is doing.
Comparing these benefits to the relatively miniscule finacial benefit
they'd get by, how do we say, "whoring the collection on eBay", I find it
very attractive to hope they will persist and increase their collection. I
therefore hope that no-one complains to Goodwill Corporate about it.
        I also should point out that it *is* effective advertising, and
benefits their chartered mission as such. I've not had a chance to visit
their store myself - but I will next time I'm in Austin.
                                                                - Mark
Received on Tue Aug 22 2000 - 09:15:25 BST

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