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Finding a Tech Museum For Your Beloved Retired Computer(s) 78

First time accepted submitter Daniel Dern writes "There may be a better home than your basement or recycling for those beloved computers you once built and/or used — like one of the many tech-collecting/displaying museums. My ComputerWorld article, '9 museums that want your legacy tech,' looks at nine institutions that might — be sure to ask, don't just drop on their doorsteps after hours — want some of them. (Probably not everything you've got, alack.)" Look soon for a Slashdot video visit to the Goodwill Computer Museum, one of the collections mentioned.
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Finding a Tech Museum For Your Beloved Retired Computer(s)

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  • Hmmm ... (Score:5, Informative)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @11:42AM (#45025637) Homepage

    Unless you have something singularly unique, like a Cray or something, I very much doubt your old computer gear is of value to anybody.

    I don't imagine a lot of these places want to be contacted to dump off your old PC, no matter how cool you think it is.

    • by nurb432 ( 527695 )

      To an large extent you are correct, but its pretty easy to do a quick search to see if what you have is fairly rare. You might be surprised. I have a few things that i thought were common as dirt but it turned out they were not and quite rare. To bad it was AFTER i tossed them.

      • Then maybe I'll send my old mac portable! []

        • which can run from 6 to 12 hours

          Ah, progress.

          • It's pretty common to have ARM devices that run that long, take up much less space, and provide much more power. It seems like we've made some progress to me, if those measures are the kind of progress you're talking about.
            • If we're comparing ARM devices, the Apple Newton Messagepad ran for at least 12 hours (of use) on a set of AA batteries. My Droid with an expanded lithium-polymer battery pack (double thick) can't do that (~27 hours of standby, but maybe 6-8 hours of constant use.).

              But if you're comparing laptop form factors, the Apple Luggable was the top of its class of the time, and an i7-class machine today will get you about the same 6-8 hours, if you're lucky.

              Yeah, both modern devices do more but the current draws ar

          • Re:Hmmm ... (Score:4, Insightful)

            by zergl ( 841491 ) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @01:10PM (#45026731)

            Keep in mind that inflation adjusted this huge unwieldy brick cost ~14k USD in today's currency according to a quick lookup on an inflation calculator.

            You can get netbooks/ultrabooks with good battery life for "pocket change" in comparison today or still more portable mobile workstations with additional high capacity battery packs for less than what the first mac portable cost back then.

        • by nurb432 ( 527695 )

          Its not worth anything. I know mine wasn't ( gen 1 even )

        • by Megane ( 129182 )

          I have a dead Mac Portable, but I'm pretty sure they're not quite rare enough for a dozen computer museums to care about a dead one. Those things won't even charge the battery if the computer was turned on, and require a charged battery to turn on, which makes them a real pain to fix.

          But I also have a slightly screen damaged 2nd gen MacBook Pro (the first Core2Duo model), so I'm planning to mod its motherboard into the Mac Portable case. I just need to find a 7" widescreen display (yes, the Mac Portable ha

      • I have a few things that aren't too rare or even that old, but people will still spend a small chunk of cash on them. I'd turn to eBay first. Even if it's not rare, you can often still get a few hundred bucks for a working system from the 80s or early 90s. Anything from the Windows 95 era or newer seems to be mostly worthless however.

        • Complete 486 systems seem to fetch some cash these days for some reason. I couldn't give the away 5-10 years ago. The biggest killer these days is shipping machines.
          • Re:Hmmm ... (Score:4, Informative)

            by linebackn ( 131821 ) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @01:31PM (#45026967)

            486 and Pentium 1 based systems frequently sell as retro gaming machines. There were a large number of games made for machines of this class that will not run or run acceptably on newer computers or emulators.

            They also make good "tweener" systems for moving data in between newer and even older systems. They often have networking, CD drives, and USB but can handle 360k drives and ISA devices.

          • Probably for using as control hardware on older CNC machines. Plenty of other industrial uses.

      • Re:Hmmm ... (Score:5, Informative)

        by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Thursday October 03, 2013 @12:10PM (#45025923) Homepage Journal

        I did do the search when I finally decided to part with my old stack of 8-bit magazines, and lo and behold, there was a guy digitizing most of them, and he had holes in his collection which I had in a box in the shed! I mailed the missing magazines to him (BTW, F.U. USPS, 30 year old magazines do not contain 'advertising') and he sent me back a set of CD's with /all/ of the issues on them. He was even willing to return the magazines, but I didn't need them. Win-win - I have a 5x5x2" backup archive of my collection which was previously measured in cubic yards.

      • You might be surprised. I have a few things that i thought were common as dirt but it turned out they were not and quite rare.

        You're kinda leaving us hanging, here, like when a DVR cuts off the last part of an Antiques Roadshow segment when the give the appraisal value. What sort of trash turned out to be treasure?

    • by RDW ( 41497 )

      The Computer History Museum wants an XBOX 360: []

      Whether this is for display, or just for the staff to play Halo in their lunch hour, isn't stated. Cheaper than buying one on Amazon, I suppose.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Lol... they're also looking for some Wangs.
        • by Anonymous Coward

          What a coincidence, so is your mom.

    • Unless you have something singularly unique, like a Cray or something, I very much doubt your old computer gear is of value to anybody.

      This - these places are no doubt awash in common consumer gear and most common non-consumer gear.
      I should dig my old Navy manuals out of storage someday and see if anyone wants them. I can't imagine they get offered too many of those, and the DGBC and DCC are probably pretty unique computers.

    • I sold a Gravis Ultrasound Classic a few months back for $50. There are a few hobbyest clubs around that tinker with old gear, but I doubt many will pay cash.

    • by turgid ( 580780 )

      Unless you have something singularly unique, like a Cray or something, I very much doubt your old computer gear is of value to anybody.

      You could donate your Cray to the museum and replace it with a scale model, like this enterprising chap did [].

    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      So, my working Apple //c system, printer, external disk drive, joysticks, mice, etc. would be worthless. Even eBay show it not great values when I checked back in summer of 2008.

  • by Frosty Piss ( 770223 ) * on Thursday October 03, 2013 @11:45AM (#45025663)

    They are interested in mostly telecommunications gear, but these people have a great collection. If you're in Seattle, spend half a day there: []

    Really worth the trip...

  • A person's emotional attachment to some long-beloved piece of technology may not be in proportion to its rarity. I have fond memories of my Atari 400, C64, and Amiga 500s. They were at times wonderful, frustrating, and enthralling. The thing is, though, that these are some of the best-selling computers of the 8-bit and 16-bit eras.

    • by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Thursday October 03, 2013 @12:01PM (#45025847) Journal

      But best selling means really not many numbers. The ZX Spectrum for instance was probably the best selling home computer in Europe (certainly in the UK and Spain, and all the clones in Eastern Europe and Russia). A few million sold, including clones behind the former iron curtain, over the production run of a little under 10 years.

      Today just a single model of Dell PC will sell that many in under 6 months.

      Museums will often still want working examples of the CPC, the Spectrum and the C64 etc. because they can use them in "hands on" exhibits, and will gladly want spares so they can swap them out when the exhibit inevitably dies and the computer needs to be repaired. Since they aren't awfully rare they don't have to be locked away in a glass box and visitors can get to play on them.

  • Where was this info 25 years ago when I had to toss out a truck load of old tech?
  • I mean, they can have my Digi-Comp I when they drag it from my cold, dead fingers.
    Same for my slide rule.

    • Re:not getting mine (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @01:05PM (#45026641) Homepage

      I just gave my old K&E aluminum slide rule to my 18 year old nephew. It was my father's who used it on the Apollo 10 and 11 shots. It's turned into an instant family heirloom - his engineering friends are incredibly jealous and he is sinfully proud of it. Turns out they've been playing with iPhone slide rule apps and only a few had actually seen a real, engineering quality slide rule before.

      Funny creatures, humans.

  • Time to dig up that old monochrome sparc station.
  • They can take my Coleco Adam when they pry it from my cold, dead fingers! I'm still waiting for Tunnels & Trolls to come out.

  • About 2002, i tried to find a museum to take a VaxStation II with a serial number of WFPROTO001 and still no takers. Unless it fits with with they're looking for and particularly rare, it's unlikely a museum wants what you might have on offer.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Our computer history organization at InfoAge/MARCH formed in 2004-2005. I can't speak for the other organizations, but we will always happily accept VAXen.

  • They probably don't want unopened boxes of 5.25" floppies.

    They obviously want the uber rare stuff that fetch a few hundred bucks on eBay to give some stupid curator bragging rights.

    Sorry, my hardware, my profit. Now flame away.
  • by Redfrost ( 202676 ) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @12:24PM (#45026085) Homepage Journal

    My in-laws have a Control Data Cyber 180 system that has been sitting in a barn for probably almost 10 years. They would really love to get rid of it but we have no idea where to send it. It includes a bunch of other heavy manufacturing equipment. Also what appears to be a CO2 laser head by GTE Sylvania. Klischograph K181. Magnetic tape stuff. I can't remember what else.

    It has been in a barn so at least kept out of rain and snow but not so much the -40C weather and the few pigeons that like to sit in the rafters above it.

    It is located in western Canada. Does anybody know of a place that would want something like this or should we just sell it for metal recycling?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Al Kossow ( 460144 )

      There are people that want this. Check on the 'controlfreaks' mailing list
      Don't scrap it.

    • It is located in western Canada. Does anybody know of a place that would want something like this or should we just sell it for metal recycling?


      It just so happens that TFA gives you a list of places to contact. Seriously, I know it's something of a Slashdot tradition to not read TFA, but this takes the cake.

      • It is located in western Canada. Does anybody know of a place that would want something like this or should we just sell it for metal recycling?


        It just so happens that TFA gives you a list of places to contact. Seriously, I know it's something of a Slashdot tradition to not read TFA, but this takes the cake.

        I checked them out and a few even have wishlists so I know what they're looking for. I will be contacting the ones that don't. But maybe there is some other group that would like this hardware in particular. Did you even think of that? That there may be more than just the 9 places in the article that might want this? Oh look at that, someone replied with a lead that wasn't part of TFA!

        You can have your cake back.

        • When someone give no indication that they've bothered to read TFA... well, that someone should expect to be taken to task for providing incomplete information.

  • by ArcadeMan ( 2766669 ) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @12:31PM (#45026183)

    Printers and scanners are good sources of free precision chromed rod, stepper motors with pulleys, belts and idler wheels. The older they are, the better.

    As an example, the Apple ImageWriter II has a 10mm chromed rod and a NEMA23 stepper motor. It's completely overkill for a printer but it's a good source of parts for a small CNC machine or 3D printer.

  • Heathkits wanted... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by A Commentor ( 459578 ) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @12:39PM (#45026285) Homepage
    If anyone has any old non-PC compatible Heathkit / Zenith Data Systems computers, software, manuals, etc.. Things like the H8, H11, H89.... HDOS & CP/M operating systems and related software... H10 Paper Tape... etc... I'm always looking for more. You can find more info on my site: []
  • by chalsall ( 185 ) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @12:43PM (#45026335) Homepage

    The National Museum of Computing [] at Bletchley Park (England) might be interested as well -- they have a section for personal computers.

    Also, if you ever get a chance to visit, plan for at least half a day -- it's fascinating!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The University of Michigan has a video game archive - where virtually any computer or video game ever made can be played (slight exageration) on original hardware. They accepted my donation of a working TI-99/4a (bought new by me) along with cartrigdes and accessories.

  • by linebackn ( 131821 ) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @01:08PM (#45026695)

    If anyone has "vintage" computers or software they want to know more about they should hop over to the Vintage Computing forum [] . Just be upfront if your intent is to sell it.

    There are lots of people interested in "retro" computing for various reasons. And it is not always nostalgia. Personally I like to lean about early machines and software that I never heard of or used before.

    One aspect of it is history. Each machine has it's own story. For example the other day I saw a complete IBM 5150 original IBM PC on craigslist crammed next to all the entries for iPhones and Dells. It even had a huge monitor, printer and the software - some ledger accounting software - with it. You could tell that was not used for games or looking at pictures of cats. It served a real business purpose - the kind that people spent huge sums of money on, and was what helped bring about the personal computing revolution.

  • I know the folks at MARCH (MidAtlantic Retro Computing Hobbyists at InfoAge, in NJ). They do a good job. I've donated a few devices. They can use extras as they need spare parts. Let's face it, there are fewer serviceable replacements available. They're very much aware of keeping these displays true to the time when they sold. The InfoAge displays are actual working displays and they are hands on (very important). They have everything from single board computers to Mainframes & Super computers and the

  • by Anonymous Coward

    A Swiss computer museum located in a a leading European university. They have a pretty eclectic collection of early computers in Europe. They accept all kind of donations. My dad's old 1982 IMS 5000 with CP/M and 1986 Olivetti M24 both went there.

  • I still have my Interact (produced in AnnArbor MI) and about 30 tapes - including Microsoft Basic for it. It also has an extra ROM written by a W. Hendrikson (sp?) and I just might be able to locate a binder with nearly all issues of "Interaction" which was a newsletter put out by IIRC Steve Cook. I had considered donating this, but the computer history museum already has one.

    Later in life I also worked directly under the guy who wrote most of the original ROM code for this machine. I believe he'd want t
  • Or at least that's what the guy I sold it to said in an e-mail after a brief discussion of my buying it back.

  • by Andrew Lindh ( 137790 ) on Thursday October 03, 2013 @07:52PM (#45031385)

    If you're in the North East here is another good one []

    They have a lot of minicomputer systems like DEC, IBM, Wang, Data General...and the usual collection of micro computers.

%DCL-MEM-BAD, bad memory VMS-F-PDGERS, pudding between the ears