Vintage PC Gallery opens at National Museum of Computing

Vintage personal computers that led the digital revolution in the UK have gone on display in an interactive gallery at The National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park.

The new PC Gallery exhibits 50 old computers, dating from the 1960s, many of which are on interactive display. The earliest model - from 1965 - is a DEC PDP8, acclaimed as the first mass-produced computer. The exhibition then focuses on the heyday of computing in the UK, and includes working models of the BBC B Micro, the Dragon 32, the Sinclair ZX80, and the Amstrad PC1512. With the rise and rivalry of the IBM PC and the Apple Macintoshes throughout the 1980s, the story then moves on to operating systems and software. The 1990s see the rise of the portable becoming laptop, followed by the handheld.

"We have been keen to celebrate the British contribution to computing,” says Kevin Murrell, a director and trustee of the National Museum of Computing. “In the US, the development of personal computing is often seen as a battle between IBM and Apple; but in Britain the story was quite different, with many smaller entrepreneurial companies breaking new ground in the 1970s and 1980s."

One of the most difficult devices to find was a working Sinclair ZX80 in good condition. A device that the Museum is still searching for is a Sinclair MK14, the pioneering ‘home computing kit’ that went on sale in 1977 priced at £40.

The development of the PC Gallery has been made possible by support in recent months from PGP Corporation, IBM, and Hewlett-Packard (HP). Two other major galleries are being planned for later in 2009, and ideas about a gallery on supercomputing are being formulated.
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