New England Wide Computer Collector Directory (Draft!)
The New Computer Museum, in both the virtual form it is taking now as well as whatever real life physical form that it might take in the future, seeks to celebrate what hobbyists, private collectors and small museums are doing to preserve computing history in New England.
One of the most important lessons that has come from trying to set up a computer museum is that the enterprise of saving computing history during this critical time requires a robust ecology that covers the spectrum from large museums to individual hobbyists saving computers in basements or garages. No one institution, group or individual can or should try to do it all because it just takes way to much expertise, time, space and other resources. It is simple. The more distributed and local computer history preservation activity there is going on now, the more robust and specific computer history will be in the future.
The New Computer Museum also gets many inquiries from local donors about whether we want old computers and related materials. While we do accept some specific things that contribute to our current and future exhibits, we have been referring the majority of offers to other collectors and institutions in New England (MA, RI, VT, NH, ME). This has been getting fairly time consuming while also not being ideal — there are probably many worthy collectors that would be well suited to receive some of the offers, and they would love to do so, but we’re just not aware of them at this time.
That is why we are putting together this New England Wide Computer Collector Directory and asking collectors to let us know if they want to be added.
Before we get into what to do with rare computer’s and related history, let’s begin with some general guidance.
If you are certain that what you have isn’t valuable, and it’s just taking up room, then check out your local town’s recycling policies. It is probable that you will be able to put something out and have it picked up. If not, then there will almost certainly be specific suggestions about how to dispose of old electronics and computers in your area.
Best Buy also takes most things for free and monitors for a small fee.
If you have working, run-of-the-mill PC equipment, you can also contact your closest computer repair store for advice. There’s almost certainly one near you.
It never hurts to check eBay’s special Vintage Computing section to get a sense of what you have is worth. Keep in mind that you can tell where the buyers are from, and if they are willing to pay significant cash for something, they are most likely serious collectors that will take good care of what they buy. eBay also provides a special page with Recycling Advice.
Here are three other collectors in the greater Boston area.
Old Computer Museum (Boris Serebrennikov, Shrewsbury)
Minicomputer “Museum” (Carl Friend, West Boylston)
Yesterbits (Paul Hagstrom, Boston)
Here are some local Boston area group sites. If you have something related to any of these, contact them to ask for advice about which collector or organization to contact.
Multics History (Multicians)
DEC Connection (Donations)
Boston Computer Society Alumni Network (Facebook)
Here are two resources if you have BBN related history (or would like to see some).
xbbn: Recollections of Bolt Beranek and Newman Inc. by former employees (Weebly)
A Culture of Innovation: Insider Accounts of Computing and Life at BBN (David Walden and Raymond Nickerson, Eds.)
Here is a link to Michael Thompson’s Sun Microsystems site.
Michael Thompson (Rhode Island)
If you are south of Boston and have some other rare equipment, contact these guys. They are the ones we would tend to work with to get our exhibits up and running.
Retro Computing Society of Rhode Island (RCSRI)
There’s also another group in RI that will often take interesting equipment.
Rhode Island Computer Museum (RICM)
If you have some Wang related materials, you should definitely contact RICM as well — they already have a large archive. In addition, here is a specific group for ex-Wang folk.
Wang Gang (LinkedIn)
If you live north of Boston and have some Apple equipment, contact this young gentleman!
Alex’s Apple Orchard (Maine)
You can generally find some interesting computers and their collectors floating around at the Swapfest (aka The Flea@MIT).
Finally, remember, we are trying to find more computer collectors in the New England area to add to this page so that potential donors can contact the most appropriate collectors directly. Of course, if the New Computer Museum is putting together an exhibit, we will also hope to turn to those same collectors for support.
So, if you or someone you know wants to be added to this directory, please let us know! firstname.lastname@example.org