How I moved from computer expert to computer collector

I suppose it was meant to be. I have always loved learning about computers and what makes them run. I am the daughter of an antique collector who shared her sense of collectable stuff and love of history with me practically from the day I was born. I love to learn everything about everything, computers especially. However, I am in the minority in the computer collecting world: I am a female.

I have always loved collecting operating systems and software experience, but over the last few years my hardware husband has brought home so many computers that I have become hooked on the antiques of computerdom myself.

I have the background to be interested: My first computer was a build-it-yourself Heathkit that the computer club at High School built my Junior year. I liked the feel of a soldering gun making things stick together, but my real forte was making everyone else’s programs run. The next computer the school computer club got was an Ohio Scientific machine that ran a proprietary operating system and BASIC. I wrote my Senior Science Fair project using the computer to teach and reinforce basic math skills. (The group of us translated Star Trek from the Basic in the games book to our machine over that same semester. You should have heard the cheers when we got it working!)

But, it wasn’t until a few years ago that I became re-acquainted with the computers of my youth. My husband acquired a couple of Lisas, then came a VAX, then the collection just grew a mind of its own. Now, beyond the working Macs and PCs we own, the collection includes: 1 working Lisa, 1 working VAX, 1 almost working S/36, 1 working SPARC station, 1 working HP workstation, 1 working VIC 20, 1 working TRS-80 (portable), 2 Alphas (one running HPUX), and several more. In addition, there are the machines in pieces and parts around the house that are used to fix the other machines.

I still tend to emphasize the operating systems and the software for the systems, but over the years I have caught his fever for the machines we have used across our mutual computing careers. Now, I want as much as he does to save this piece of our youth. To remind our son that computers didn’t always come with gigabyte drives and megahertz processors. We want him and the other youth of the world to understand how we got where we are in the computing world. Won’t you join us?

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