Collecting philosophy (Was: Computer collectors are no longer the
ard at p850ug1.demon.co.uk
Thu Aug 7 15:49:31 CDT 2008
> are worth. I do what I do because I have a great passion for this
> particular part of our technological history, and there is such a
> wonderful diversity of methods that various companies and engineers
> invented to do the same basic functions, and each has its own beauty and
> individuality, as well as (in some cases) places in history that are
I've always felt that good hardware design is an art form. A somewhat
obscure art form, only really appreciable by those who can read a
schematic, understand a state machine, and so on, but an art form
none-the-less. And seeign the itneral beauty of some of these machines is
very enjoyable for me.
> I state in the website that none of the stuff is for sale. It isn't.
> When I die, it'll be taken care of properly.
None of my collection is for sale either. When I snuff it, another UK
collector gets everything (not just the machines), and I believe he will
know what to do with every item.
> That's all that matters to me. This stuff isn't an investment, except
> in the time that I spend pondering the designs and troubleshooting
> machines that there are no schematics for, or figuring out how to
I know that feelign all too well. Spending many a long night tracing
conenctions to produce real service docmentation for a machine where
either there is no servie manaul, or just a boardswapper guide. And then
spending even more long nights finding the fualt. But then, when it
finally all works, it's a great feeling that amply justifies the effort I
put it (although actually I do enjoy (a) figuring out how the machine
works and uncovering the beauty I mentioned earlier) and (b) solving the
puzzle as to why it doesn't work any more).
> Tinkering around with this stuff makes me happy. Digging through old
> documents and finding shreds of historical significance that tie
> together is the most wonderful kind of detective work. Communicating
> with folks who "were there", like Tom Osborn(HP 9100/9800), Allen
> Frankel (son of Stanley Frankel, developer of the SCM 240SR, and the
> design of the Diehl
> Combitron, and some early small computers, as well as being a nuclear
> physicist involved in the Manhattan Project), Harold Koplow (Microcode
> designer of Wang's 700-Series machines and others, including the 2200
> BASIC computer, and word-processing systems), and many others is such a
> great privilege. Sharing what I learn is pure joy.
I#ve never been much of a 'people person' and wouldn't have a clue as to
how to track down people like this, or how to approach them if I did find
them. No matter. I can enjoy discovering things from the actual hardware
in front of me.
> The value is in those things, not dollars. I agree completely with
> Tony's philosophy. Others may feel differently about these kinds of
> things, and that's their right, and I'll fight to the death to defend
> their right to feel that way, as well as for the right for Tony and
> myself think the way we do.
On the other hand, I can't help thinking of something written in one of
Eric Smith's (not _our_ Eric Smith AFAIK) books on clock repair. He
talks about the 'Horological Ham' -- basically an amateur clock
enthusiast who appreciates the beauty in that that type of machine. And
he makes a comment that what upsets the horological ham is not low-value
clocks, or common clocks, or anything like that, but clocks that are
never given the chance to work any more. Either for fear of damaging
them, or because they have some (probably simple) fault.
I will admit I feel the same way about classic computers. I do like to
see them in operation. I do try to repari all those in my collection (of
course there are many I've not got round to yet).
I am not saying you're wrong if you don't feel the same way, of course.
You have the right to collect what you like, how you like.
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