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Computer Restorations

The Museum has an active computer restoration program, created to better understand historic hardware and software environments for research and collecting purposes as well as to provide visitors with a unique opportunity to experience a historic machine in its original operating condition.

Restoration Projects

Beginning in the fall of 1998, a group of Computer History Museum volunteers labored for 18 months to restore to working order a vintage 1960 IBM 1620. On October 23, 1999, they were successful and the computer functioned for the first time in almost 20 years.

The PDP-1 restoration project began in fall 2003 and was fully restored by fall 2005. Over the course of the restoration, the team retrieved the data from the main memory, restored all peripherals and successfully ran vintage programs, including SpaceWar!, one of the first computer games.

In 2004, the Computer History Museum acquired an IBM 1401 system from Germany which had been in operation from 1964 to 1977. The system, with a high-speed card reader/punch, line printer, and five reel-to-reel tape drives, had been stored in a garage by a retired IBM customer engineer for over 25 years. A team of local, retired IBM customer engineers are actively restoring it to working condition.

In 2002, the Magnetic Disk Heritage Center began restoration of the IBM 350 RAMAC, the world's first disk drive system. Al Hoagland, one of the original design team members of the RAMAC, led the project in collaboration with Santa Clara University. In 2005, the RAMAC restoration project relocated to the Computer History Museum and is now demonstrated to the public in the Museum’s Revolution exhibition.