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Living Computer Museum Opens To Public In Seattle 68

New submitter seawall writes "Paul Allen just opened the Living Computer Museum in Seattle. The 'Living' means many of the computers are actually running. There's a Xerox Sigma 9, which was introduced in 1971 and is quite similar to the computer that sent the first signal over Arpanet. There's also Tops-10 on original DEC hardware, an operating TOAD-1 system, and a DEC PDP-7 that's one of only four in the world."
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Living Computer Museum Opens To Public In Seattle

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  • Great.. (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 26, 2012 @02:52PM (#41781237)

    ..some other idiot who refuses to upgrade his computers but will probably still want customer support.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    What do they do when they wear & tear them out?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Well, the DEC-10 is mainly discrete logic chips and Transistors. Depending upon its exact vintage I expect that there would be lots of 74xxx IC's.

      If they had a PDP-11 then I'd think about donating the VS-11 and VT30-D graphics cards I have in my loft.
      There is even the Colour lookup unit for the VS-11. I modified the RSX-11 and VMS drivers for the CLU functionality.

      I'd like to see a PDP-11/VS-11 running the Luna Lander game. That would bring back a load of memories.

      • Well, the DEC-10 is mainly discrete logic chips and Transistors. Depending upon its exact vintage I expect that there would be lots of 74xxx IC's.

        There's a KI and a KL. From reading the KI10 schematics [] and pages such as the one for the M133 NAND gate module [] (the schematics referred to module names such as that), I infer the KI10 had DEC-proprietary ICs. The KL10 was ECL, so it wouldn't use 74xxx's (unless there was an ECL variant).

      • by bpechter ( 2885 )

        They've got at least one 11/70...
        I remember the VT11 on PDP's running Lunar Lander.
        I remember VSV11's (qbus connecting to Unibus via an adapter) running on Vax11/780's. Was the VS11 similar to the VSV?

  • by Spy Handler ( 822350 ) on Friday October 26, 2012 @02:54PM (#41781247) Homepage Journal
    otherwise it's gonna be like, totally empty.
    • by suutar ( 1860506 )
      I dunno, I think this is going on my list of places to check out next time I'm in Seattle to visit my niece.
      • by SB9876 ( 723368 ) on Friday October 26, 2012 @04:18PM (#41782365)

        If you're looking for a place to visit in Seattle, I think your time would be better spent here: []

        Their hours are really weird but it's the best museum (and one of the best kept secrets) in Seattle. They've got a gigantic collection of old (early 20th century) telephone switching gear that is operational and available for viewing. The oldest is a nearly completely mechanical computer that Babbage would have probably been at home working on.

        The best part of the MoC, though is the docents. It's staffed by a bunch of *old* school engineers in their 70-90s that were all Ma Bell lifers. I've had one of them walk me through the use and repair of an old crossbar switching system and the sheer volume of knowledge that those engineers had to have is mind-blowing. The docents are more than happy to spend a few hours one-one one with you and I guarantee you'll get far more out of your time at this place than Paul Allen's museum.

        • That's all very nice... but the systems in the museum in TFA are a part of my personal history, whereas what you're talking about is of merely academic interest to me.

          If I have to choose between talking to someone else about their life experiences, even if they are the coolest old-school EEs in the universe, or actually reliving my own life experiences... gosh, I guess I'm selfish, but I'll actually indulge in personal nostalgia, thanks. I enjoyed my time hacking PDPs and the like, and that takes precedence

          • by SB9876 ( 723368 )

            Fair 'nuff, you hadn't mentioned the personal nostalgia angle and that's worth something. However drawing form my experience at another Paul Allen museum (the EMP/Sci-Fi museum), the average Slashdotter is probably going to have a far better and more interesting time at the MoC.

        • by gr8dude ( 832945 )

          Can you provide more recommendations of this kind? I've recently moved here and I would love to expose myself to all the cool things Seattle has to offer.

          Thank you!

        • by yusing ( 216625 )

          Thanks a lot for the detailed post. I'm sure I'd enjoy a few hours there w/the OT's. Took me a while to find a bus route (#132 gets to 4th Ave & Michigan) and notice that it's near SCCC Georgetown.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 26, 2012 @03:05PM (#41781349)

      General - $5
      Student - $2
      Senior - $2
      Active Military - $2
      Child (under 12) - Free

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Then they'll just move it to The Cloud

    • by Hatta ( 162192 )

      I'd pay to play with a PDP-7. If no one else does, hey that's more computer time for me.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    student & miltary $2, adult $5. Not really expensive but I cannot think of a reason not making it a completely free museum.....

    Anyhow, I might just pay a visit today and see if it's any good

  • Museum? (Score:4, Funny)

    by mcmonkey ( 96054 ) on Friday October 26, 2012 @03:04PM (#41781339) Homepage

    Doesn't the "living" part of Living Computer make it a zoo?

  • by e065c8515d206cb0e190 ( 1785896 ) on Friday October 26, 2012 @03:11PM (#41781417)

    ...prehistoric devices like the Zune?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      They can't find a working model.

  • ...when my own core i7-laptop ( Asus ) will be old enough to make it there. Before I die, prolly....
  • by OhSoLaMeow ( 2536022 ) on Friday October 26, 2012 @03:22PM (#41781545)
    ... before a dialog box pops up on these systems and states that Adobe Flash Reader needs to install a Critical Update.
    • by drkim ( 1559875 )

      ... before a dialog box pops up on these systems and states that Adobe Flash Reader needs to install a Critical Update. mean it punches out a card that says Adobe Flash Reader needs to install a Critical Update.

  • I like how all of the links on the site are blocked by our proxy server at work for "Job Search/Careers"
    Also, the first time I clicked on "The Collection" with javascript disabled I got a page full of Lorem Ipsum garbage.
    • I like how all of the links on the site are blocked by our proxy server at work for "Job Search/Careers"

      Wow. I simply cannot wrap my head around the notion of working for any organization that would implement such a measure. To me, it would be like a slap in the face. It would force me to understand that, at some point in my history of life choices, I made at least one terrible mistake, possibly several, and that I'd better turn things around before it's too late.

      At the very least, I'd make sure that th

  • I would not want to be the IT guy who gets to fix 40 year old computers.
    • by Sparticus789 ( 2625955 ) on Friday October 26, 2012 @03:55PM (#41782037) Journal

      Good, because I would LOVE to be the IT guy who gets to fix these computers. You have to know your roots!

      • True enough. My research lab used to have a Symbolics 2650 Lisp Machine, an expensive and exotic item definitely worthy of the history books. Ours eventually fell into disuse, though I did my very best to maintain it for historical reasons.

        Then the disk drive failed. Although it was easy enough to find a supply of replacement SMD drives, the software to format them was closely held by Symbolics. And so, for want of a nail...
      • by Osgeld ( 1900440 )

        +1 here

        I used to get all happy when some old shitty 386 connected to a industrial machine at work breaks ... but I fixed them all =(

    • by axl917 ( 1542205 )

      I'd rather work on 40 yr old treasures there than windows98-era clunkers that we STILL have lying around here.

    • Why not? It's all well-documented stuff...

    • by bpechter ( 2885 )

      I used to be the guy who fixed this stuff.
      TU77 tape drives, RP06 disk drives, VAX11/780's.

      I'd kill to have a job doing that today. Much more fun than Unix Sysadmin.
      Now the techs just do parts delivery -- if that. Now it's mostly customer swap with manufacturer sending the stuff via FedEX/UPS or courier.

      Adjusting the TU45's on those PDP10's was a real PITA.

  • I went here a year or so ago, back when it was appointment only. They have a ton of old hardware, most of it still booted up and working. If you're a fan of computing history (or maybe you lived it), I highly recommend going to see this. At the time, the guy who gave us our tour was extremely knowledgeable and immersed in his role as a historian and archivist (plus, he wore a kilt, which equals bonus points). The museum was housed in an old warehouse, which gave it a gritty industrial feel that suppleme

  • The Xerox Sigma 5 was the second machine I worked on. It was replaced by a Sigma 9. Of all the machines I've used since then, none were as elegant as the Sigma series of machines. Xerox provided the source code to the operating system, compilers, assemblers, and every other piece of software on the machine. It was an absolute treasure trove of knowledge!

    I hope the museum's Sigma gear lives on for many more years.
  • As someone who draws immense joy from replacing old clunky equipment like servers and networking equipment this place just looks like a junkyard to me. Hopefully others will enjoy it as it probably took a few hundred admins to get this stuff working again.....

    Instead of free wifi do they offer a connection to their token ring?
    • You and everyone else. That is why almost none of these machines still exist.

      • My buddy who just died had a couple SWTP machines and at least one HP 1000, the ones where you used toggle switches to load code. His sister is getting a 30 yard dumpster.

        Sad, that there's this value versus time curve that goes to zero, and that's when things start to appreciate. But who has 50 years to wait?

  • So there's probably no computers from the early 2000's especially the Dell Optiplex. The motherboards have all failed by now with leaking capacitors.

    On a completely unrelated note in computer history, I went to a yard sale recently and bought 6 Pentium II's, still in their shrink-wrapped boxes, for $2 total. If I keep them for 10 years they might be worth something!

  • Remove the facebook & twitter links and you have a very 90s looking website complete with inline CSS & jscript :)

  • Any CP/M systems?

May all your PUSHes be POPped.