Specialist cleaning of NPL's Scrapbook

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Behind the scenes at TNMOC, volunteers are at work restoring historically important computer systems. One such project is the restoration of Scrapbook, an early 1970s system that anticipated the World Wide Web.

In its day, Scrapbook was something of a minor cult amongst its users. It was built by National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and rolled together word processing, e-mail and hypertext - a idea that was later to come together in the form of the World Wide Web.

Scrapbook is based on a DEC PDP 11/70 and two DEC (CDC) RM03 67Mb removable disk drives and has been in storage for many years. The last service on this machine was carried out in 1987.

The system is now being restored by TNMOC volunteers Ray Allison and Sean Allison of Askaris IT, who worked on DEC and CDC computers in the 1980s. Sean had previously contacted AF International (Advanced Technology Cleaning) to procure specialist technology cleaning products to assist with the restoration of very fragile (and in terms of their content - priceless) disk assets.

AF has a long heritage and Sean had previously used AF products in the 1980s. Unfortunately, some of the original products have now been superseded, but Paul Hardy (AF European Brand Director) worked with Sean to provide everything needed to breathe new life into the disk drives, including Isopropyl-based disk head and disk platter cleaning products. Another of AF's products, Foamclene, proved invaluable, as it was used to restore the drive belt which had become brittle with age.

"When we were contacted by Sean regarding help, it struck us as a great cause and we were delighted to assist with this important restoration project,” said Paul Hardy.

For more information about Scrapbook, see the second half of this article by Mark Ward.

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