Categorization and description was RE: Collection policy was Re: No space for vinatge computers in

From: Cynde Moya <>
Date: Fri May 30 13:36:00 2003

I'm finding many aspects of this discussion very compelling. It got me to wonder some things.

How would you categorize and describe classic computer items? Is there an accepted descriptive benchmark in the collectors discipline?

Or better still, how would you *like* to see it done? What would be an appropriate descriptive level of a flip chip, a unibus terminator, a cable, a power cable, a backplane, a cabinet part? If you had a museum or archival collection of these DEC things, what would you want to know about them that would make them useful to you?

Cynde Moya, MLIS

-----Original Message-----
From: Tony Duell []
Sent: Tuesday, May 27, 2003 3:04 PM
Subject: Re: Collection policy was Re: No space for vinatge computers in

> 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.

Argh!! I knew I disliked most museums for a good reason :-)... This is
simply rediculous. A PDP9 is a PDP9 no matter what cabinet it's installed
in, of even if it's jsut loose backplanes and PSUs...

Mind you, I once saw a list of valves (vacuum tubes) that one museum was
offering to another. The list had a column of 'condition'. No, it didn't
give the emission and gm figures. It didn't even say if the heater was
continous, and the getter silver (not white, which would indicate air had
leaked into the valve). No, it described how clean the glass was...

> 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".

The obvious extension of this is that art galleries should throw out all
but 10 of their paintains on the ground that they 'already have 10 pieces
of canvas with paint on them' :-)... And that libraries only need to keep
10 books ('we already have 10 sets of bound pieces of paper with ink on

Somebody is going to have to educate museum curators about the importance
and meaning of technical and computer artefacts...

Received on Fri May 30 2003 - 13:36:00 BST

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