Paul Allen, Microsoft’s “Idea Man”, is an aficionado of relic computing devices — the older and more obscure, the better. He collects them, along with rare WWII fighter planes, and shares this passion at his Living Computer Museum in Seattle.
The Living Computer Museum showcases machines, peripherals and software from the era of interactive timesharing systems. Allen credits personal nostalgia as a motivator in his quest for these ancient systems. “They have a certain smell to them and a certain buzz when you hit the keys,” Allen, told the Wall Street Journal. “It sure takes me back to those days.” Those days being when he and Bill Gates used many of the same machines in their genesis of the Windows OS.
The appointment-only museum currently resides in a nondescript warehouse in downtown Seattle but has already attracted a following. In 2006, Allen launched PDPplanet activated a few old servers in order to host text-based games like Zork.
The museum routinely takes groups of both students and fellow tech enthusiasts. “We’re going to try to bring a lot of students through so they’ll get the sense of how things have proceeded so rapidly in the last 30 or 40 years from nobody having personal computers to now everybody’s got one of those,” said Allen.
Always on the search for more machines, the Living Computer Museum has a list of desired computers here.
[WSJ – Top art courtesy Bill Rupp/WSJ]