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Collecting and Conserving Computers

Doron Swade

Thursday, March 04, 1999

Thursday, March 4, 5:30 p.m.

Building 40, Silicon Graphics, Inc., Mountain View, CA.

Registration is now closed.

Call (650) 810-1898 for information.

Engineers take pride in fixing things, conservators in preserving them. There is a direct conflict between restoration, which often involves physical intervention, and conservation, which subscribes to the notion that the object is an inviolate part of historical evidence and should not be modified. This presentation explores the practical and ethical implications of actively preserving computers through restoration, reconstruction, physical replication and logical simulation. Examples are drawn from the major programmes recently undertaken in England, including the Manchester `Baby', the Bletchley Park Colossus, the Ferranti Pegasus, the Elliott 803, Babbage's Engine, and the Phillips Economics Computer, a hydro-mechanical analog machine from the late 1940s.

The philosophical and practical implications of collecting and conserving software, an equally challenging problem, will also be discussed.

The Computer History Museum offers a variety of membership levels. To find out more, please visit our individual membership or call 650-810-2722.


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