Except for a few home collectors and Monitor’s (Slovene computer magazine) small collection of old computers, there is no such museum to be found in Slovenia. Croatia faces similar problems. Cyberpipe’s computer museum represents a unique opportunity for people interested in computer history and a chance for younger generations to get to know technology used in the past few decades.
Rapid development in the field of consumer electronics practically forces the end user to replace their old, but still very much functioning computer for a new one. In a period of only fifty years, millions of computers – seen as old and useless from today’s point of view – were thrown away. But are they really so useless? They may not be able to run the latest first-person shooter, they may not be able to access the internet and they may not be able to process complex three-dimensional landscape models – but even today, they can still perform the functions they were designed for.
Shortly after Cyberpipe was established, there arose a need for an own museum of computer history. Slowly but surely, old and “useless” computers started accumulating in Cyberpipe. Some of them were brought in by individuals, who wished their once beloved companion a future more bright than that of a dusty old box somewhere in the basement; others were donated to Cyberpipe from various Slovenian companies.
Cyberpipe’s museum is not as packed as the history of computers (despite the fact that even the history of electronic computers is actually pretty young itself). Nevertheless, the Museum has something to show: from a couple of the most popular home computers, such as the Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum, to the first widely used business computer, the IBM XT, from bits and pieces of ancient mainframe computers to age-old tape disk drives such as the IBM370. The Museum even displays some very advanced computers, such as the NeXT Station, which was practically a generation apart from the other business machines used in its time.
The Museum is an interactive installation, a bit like a temporal black hole that drags the visitor into a totally different time. Even the younger generation, who was spared the minute-long waiting times looking at the tape recorder loading its data into the computer memory, has the possibility to experience the unknown past of home computers.
But even in the so-called electronic age, books still remain an important source of information. Cyberpipe’s Museum also hosts a small library of old computer books, instruction manuals, and magazines from home (Moj Mikro, Monitor) and abroad (PC Magazine). A small part in teh centre of the installation is devoted to visitors, who just might want to read some old news or even try to take on an instruction manual and get acquainted with one of the machines on the pedestals.
The Museum is open for everybody: from enthusiasts, who still have their first computer at home somewhere, to people, who have no idea that the mouse was not always a part of home computers, and of course to those, who always wanted to know something more about old computers or try them out, but just didn’t get the chance to… In other words, Cyberpipe Museum of Computer History is open for anyone even remotely interested in computer history.
Sources: Wikipedia.org, IBM Corporate Archives, Graham Magnetics, Imation, Columbia University, Science museum London, Deutsches Museum
Video, published on BoingBoing, March 2009.
Special thanks go to: Moj Mikro; KUD Krsnik; IBM Corporate Archives