Help Save Some Of Australia’s Computer History From The Bulldozers

When multiple tipsters write in to tell us about a story, we can tell it’s an important one. This morning we’ve received word that the holding warehouse of the Australian Computer Museum Society in the Sydney suburb of Villawood is to be imminently demolished, and they urgently need to save the artifacts contained within it. They need Aussies with spare storage capacity of decent size to help them keep and store the collection, and they only have a few days during which to do so.

The ever-effusive Dave from EEVblog has posted a video in which he takes a tour, and like us he’s continually exclaiming over the items he finds. An EAI analog computer, a full set of DEC PDP-11 technical documentation, a huge Intel development system, Tektronix printers, huge DEC racks, memory cards for VAXen, piles and piles of boxes of documentation, and much, much more.

So, if you are an Aussie within reach of Sydney who happens to have a currently-unused warehouse, barn, or industrial unit that could house some of this stuff, get in touch with them quickly. Some of it may well be junk, but within that treasure trove undoubtedly lies a lot of things that need to be saved. We’d be down there ourselves, but are sadly on the other side of the world.

18 thoughts on “Help Save Some Of Australia’s Computer History From The Bulldozers

  1. Awesome place. I’d *love* to get those PDP-11 engineering drawings to scan in…

    And that Amiga 2000 seemed nice. And the AMIGA ROM manuals were a trip down memory lane.

  2. “Museum”, that’s some grade A hoarding and neglect. Be a shame to see stuff in there go to scrap metal dealers or recyclers, but the owners have no one to blame but themselves for the fate of that stuff. Clearing out a place like that properly is probably a year or two long project, leaving it until the last minute is beyond careless.

    1. You’re not confusing the museum itself with it’s holding warehouse?

      That said, yep leaving it this late is phenomenally stupid. Are the expecting people to give them all this stuff back again in the future? Who’ll pay for the transport?

      If they’re lucky, and they offer to give it all away for keeps, the best 30% of stuff might go, and that’s only because other “collectors” have the hoarding gene. I used to be one!

      Maybe they should’ve gone to Ebay a year ago. Some of the DEC bits ‘n’ pieces might have sold to people repairing whole DEC machines, increasing the value of what’s otherwise a bunch of ICs on weird smelling circuit board, which nobody wants to see. Sell off a percentage of the stock, then use the cash to pay for storage.

      It would be a shame if it went to scrap, but stuff reclaimed from storage space usually goes to auctions, if TV hasn’t been lying to me. If a group of people got together they could maybe pick it up for a bit more than the meltdown value, then get storage sorted out ASAP.

    2. Could be wrong, but it is likely that some committee decided MONTHS ago that this “room” had to be cleared, and the ‘custodian’ only heard about it when it actually had to be done. That is, being told Thurday afternnon “this room has to be clear and clean by Monday morning”.
      Sadly, I’ve seen just this sort of thing happen too many times.

      To me this stuff is interesting, but to many, and especially a committee run by beancounters, it is worthless, and probably even a fire risk.

  3. I contacted my Aussie friends about this. Hopefully one of them has some space. Thanks for the tip! It would be such a shame to lose these things :(
    I wish you the best of luck!

  4. Why save this stuff? My city had a computer museum and it folded, twice. Most people will not pay to see that stuff. Take pictures of the stuff, put them on the Internet and send the junk to the nearest recycle center.

    1. People’s ability to guesstimate importance is terrible. You get these pop-up museums of junk all over the place. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to diminish the place this stuff had in _your_ life. Put me in the Computer History Museum, and I can ramble on and on about an Apple ][ or NeXTstation. But have someone doing the same thing with a PET or Amiga? OMG, kill me now. When you sum up all the “I was there” people’s rambling talks, you’re still left with something that’s not interesting to 99% of the population.

      I mean, the same thing goes for baseball or railroading, it’s easy to have too many junk displays. I remember being in the Smithsonian American History museum looking at power-related displays, thinking “Wow, it’s amazing they could build this giant coupling thing to drive factory machines”, and I was even trying to understand how it worked. I definitely was _not_ thinking “I wish I could see 9 competing designs for this function, I wonder what the differences are.”

    2. It’s easy to fall for the misconception that exhibitions are a museum’s primary task, obviously even for the creators of a museum. Measuring a museum’s value by the popularity of their exhibitions is entirely missing the point.

    3. Because it’s not only about “people coming to look at stuff” – it’s about preservation.

      There’s software that has been written that only runs on some of this level of hardware. That forms part of history that will be lost forever if it can’t be preserved.

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