Collection policy was Re: No space for vinatge computers in australia (fwd)

From: Hans B Pufal <>
Date: Sat May 24 19:56:32 2003

TeoZ wrote:

> Like I said before museums have static displays for reasons of power
> requirements, lack of personnel that can run the machines, spare parts that
> are expensive and hard to find, and the fact that a screwup during operation
> could actually destroy one of the few remaining examples (or only one).

But what is destroyed? Only the functionaliity, the physical machine can
still be used as a static display

> Most
> devices in a museum are there for either art or function (or combination).
> The older machines are not much to look at without being powered up and
> running. I am 34 years old and I have seen a punch card reader, but never
> seen one hooked up and running. I have never used an 8" floppy, or run the
> earliest PC's that did computations via dip switch settings on the front
> panel. the only mainframe I have ever used was in colege doing fortran
> programming and that machine wasnt even in the same state. I have to admit
> there is nothing like running a complex fortran program in .001 seconds
> (would have taken an hour on the PC's we had at the time) to get an answer
> and then waiting 20 minutes for the local monster printer to spit out the
> answer and get it posted into my mailbox.

You obviously need to visit Grenoble ;-)

> Firearms have evolved over 100's of years and the original versions still
> have alot in common with current units. People of today can relate to how
> the original versions were used even without using one. Compare this to
> computers that are only 60+ years old. Does a person who has a PC today have
> any idea what the monster computer that took up a whole room in 1946 does
> and how? There was no monitor, no keyboard, and no mouse they are totally
> different today, how can people relate to this?

Excellent point, this is what we need to communicate in one way or another.

> While there are still a few
> people who know how to make a horseshoe at a blacksmiths there will be
> nobody who knows how to run the early mainframes in 50 years, things are
> changing too fast. Static displays with a video of what they looked like
> when running will be all thats left (if people are smart enough to record
> the thing running before the last operator or machine is to old).

Unless we make a determined effort and preserve the old trades. It is
done in other industries, your exmaple of blacksmith is one.

Computing has, as you state, eveolved out of all recognition. The simple
static display put on by museums do not, and cannot, present that
evolution in any real way.

   -- hbp
Received on Sat May 24 2003 - 19:56:32 BST

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