The Vintage Computer Festival
I visited the National Museum of Computing today, and took my camera with me. I know that you are thinking vintage computers aren’t particularly crafty, but I beg to differ. Some of the computers on show at the vintage computer festival were built in the days when men were men, women were women, and small animals were dinner.
Back then, computers were crafted by hand, engineers didn’t have the benefits afforded by printed circuits and silicone wafers. Individual wire tracks were soldered directly onto wire wound resistors, relays, and valves.
Every machine at the festival had a unique character, and even the reproduction equipment had plenty of interesting personal touches. There were trackless computers (soldered by hand from diagrams), early computer controlled robotic arms, and hand made computer cabinets that replicated the look of arcade machines from the 70′s, 80′s, and 90′s.
Bletchley Park itself offered even more delightful surprises, with a huge collection of vintage toys and household ephemera on display in the upper portions of the museum. The slate sculpture of Alan Turing is still prominently displayed alongside enough wartime cypher technology to send even the most aloof cryptanalyst into paroxysms of joy. I posted some photographs of the park and museum on my picasa account last year (new photos coming soon).
For those of you who still doubt that computers can be crafty, I have uploaded some of my photos from the vintage festival to prove exactly how wrong you are. Note the 1940′s digital clock, handmade by an unknown engineer. Also note the arcade style MAME cabinet, the bakelite speaker-phone, and the hand soldered computers. That’s crafty, folks. That’s very crafty.