Collection policy was Re: No space for vinatge computers in

From: Hans B Pufal <>
Date: Tue May 27 07:01:58 2003

Tony Duell wrote:

> I agree. The problem seems to be that many of the traditional exhibits in
> museums (fine art, archeology, etc) _are_ static objects and the
> appearence is, in general all that matters and all that can be observed.
> This is _not_ true of computers (or other scientific and
> engineering-related objects), but the museums don't seem to realise this
> and apply the same policies to all objects.

And worse to the categorisation and descritpion. We are in the process
of inventorying our collection, the PDP-9 is described as "a cabinet xx
cm tall, xx cm wide, xx cm deep with orange and black panels and an
operator console". That neatly describes a museums view of a PDP-9 !!
I am currently in a battle royal to get this point of view chamged.

> Can somebody please explain to me why it is so difficult to _learn_ these
> skills? I will admit I've enver worked on a 1950's computer (the oldest
> machine I've worked on dates from 1969 [1]), but I don't see why I'd find
> it impossible given a little bit of time to learn the tricks that were
> used then.

After all the folks in the 60's learnt their tricks from those that
worked in the 50's!

>>This is clearly an issue we need to pass on these skills to a younger
>>generation. Here at ACONIT our goal is a conservatoire of computing
>>history, hopefully as such it will perpetuate the skills needed. The

> It's interesting that a small private computer history group that I
> belong to states its aims as 'preserving old computers, programs, methods
> and operating practices as far as possible'. Clearly they think (as do I)
> there's more that need to be preserved than just circuit boards :-)

An entirely rightly so!!!

I recently recoverd an entire PDP-9 OS thought long lost from three
DECtapes found in a batch of over 100. Had "policy" been applied at
least 90 of those tapes would have been trashed on the grounds that "we
already have ten of those".

   -- hbp
Received on Tue May 27 2003 - 07:01:58 BST

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