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.
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.
The Computer History Museum began an IBM 1401 restoration project in 2004. The Museum acquired two complete
IBM 1401 systems from Germany and the United States. A team of 20 Museum volunteers of mostly retired IBM engineers brought
the machines back to life after 20,000 hours in 500 works sessions over 10 years. The successful restoration highlights the
strength of the 1401’s design, outstanding reliability and dedicated volunteer base. The restored machines are now on display
to the public in the 1401 Demo Lab and are demonstrated weekly.
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 where efforts to restore the drive
for public display continue.