Xerox Alto on ebay (not mine!)

Roger Merchberger zmerch-cctalk at
Sat Oct 16 18:52:52 CDT 2010

On 10/16/2010 07:21 PM, Teo Zenios wrote:

> I just think you are thinking very short term, like 20-50 years not in
> the very long term 100+ years where museums are involved. Later
> generations will not care about specific machines (unless it was
> something revolutionarily special) just in generic how did this thing
> work.

If, you meant to type "1000+ years" then maybe I'd agree with you - when 
the archaeologists can't figure out things worked, then they're 
interested enough to *not destroy the unit* while trying to figure out 
how it works. As a previous poster mentioned - How's the antikythera 
device reverse-engineering / restoration going thus far?

The argument of "But there's so much available information now" doesn't 
mean much when access the most comprehensive library of the ancient 
world (Alexandria) evaporated left most people thinking the world is 
flat for a millennium. If people can't access the info, it doesn't do 
much good - who's going to have a working DVD-ROM 1000+ years from now?

 > Sooner or later just turning on old relics will release the magic
> smoke and parts plus expertise in repairing them will be hard to come
> by. For the most part I expect old systems to be run via emulator so
> that any software and its data can be read for whatever reason, the
> original hardware at that point is not important (unless the emulator
> has a bug or old media needs to be reloaded).

Right... but how many "emulators" will be run on PCs that require 
+1.65v... and if the curators forget that the original hardware needs 
+5.0V (and that's just TTL... what about RTL or ECL?) and try to get 
original hardware working without the full specs (remember, this is in a 
futuristic scenario... we still don't have the full specs of King Tut's 
tomb, and it's a couple kiloyears old...) Emulators are great for a lot 
of things (offtopically, especially running WinXP in a sandbox) but 
aren't nearly so helpful when trying to get original hardware working 

> All you need is one collector to lose their job for everything they have
> to hit the trash heap. Just by having to move a few times you will end
> up losing items or getting them destroyed. Museums probably have a
> better setup in case of fire....

...For the stuff they care about. How much is in low-end storage that 
they don't care about? (Yes, I actually own some stuff that's "museum 
quality" (not computer-based). No, I haven't donated it yet as I need 
more info to the local museum lackeys & how well said priceless (yes, 
honestly[1]) treasures will be treated.

> A museum located in a static location is
> better long term then items going from collectors to collectors.

Not if it's destroyed by the museum's volunteer workers because they 
don't know what they're doing... admittedly, if the collectors have more 
$$ than brains, than such is still the case.

More reason to make sure that whomever gets your (speaking collectively) 
collection actually knows what to do with it, which I'm pretty sure in 
ARD's case he's stated that's covered. Mine... not so much. At least not 
yet. But. I still have stuff to give away, but that's another episode.


[1] Priceless means lots of things. In this case, the items are unique 
and 5 generations old... but I doubt anyone else would actually pay 
money for them, no matter how small the amount. Hence... priceless. ;-)

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