Elliott 803 training, expanding the archive and a busy 2 weeks for visitors

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Here is a brief round-up of what we have been up to over the past 2 weeks...

Elliott 803 Training, fitted 'kitchens' and more tape reader problems

PeterO has started to run some "Basic 803 operating" sessions for museum volunteers who want to take their first step towards learning how to use the 803. The first session covered turning the machine on and off, and loading one of the demonstration music tapes. To help new 803 users the first two "trainees" (Johan and Mike W) were tasked with writing up the notes they took during the session to produce an "803 operators guide" booklet.

In preparation for the installation of some 'kitchen style' cupboards and work surface, the space behind the 803's Paper Tape Station has been cleared of the book case and filing cabinet. The filing cabinet now has a new home by the ICL 2966.

While trying to make some copies of test programme X3 PeterO noticed a problem with the "new" reader. He noticed it had a slightly different design for the piece of perspex that guides the tape into the brake assembly, and in some circumstances this was letting the tape get wedged over the top of the guide pins. When this happened the tape was not correctly aligned over the photo-cells and so was not being read correctly. The "old" reader had a differently shaped perspex part, which in fact looked like a later design as it could not allow the tape to become wedged over the guide pins. A simple swap of the parts between the two readers prevented the problem arising any more.

ICL 2966 news

Very little progress can be made at the moment as several of the main power supplies have died, and as we have no working spares, they need to be fixed before further investigations can be carried out. For an up-to-date report of progress please see the projects page.

VCF progress

Simon H, Lin J and Kevin M, ably assisted by our PR guru have been making major progress with the planning and organisation of this unique (to the UK anyway) event. This is a collaborative event between TNMOC and Bletchley Park which will take place on 19th and 20th June 2010. We hope to make a major announcement on this shortly but we are certainly getting a lot of interest from people wanting to exhibit their collections and we also have a growing list of distinguished speakers and performers already committed.

Museum Archive

Many years ago, Bletchley Park offered to store a lot of archive material that the museum had accumulated since 1994 (when the museum officially started collecting computer related items). Since then it was always our intention to add it to our archive and last week this was finally achieved when 50+ boxes of manuals, books and associated material was put into our archive. We have accumulated a lot of material over the years and work is in progress to produce a computerised inventory of what we have.

We are often approached by individuals and organisations who have archive material they would like us to have, but as ever, space is always a problem. Recently we were approached by a well known computer publication who offered a complete set of their magazines and periodicals - over 40 boxes worth - and given their history we were delighted to accept their offer. Hopefully in the next few weeks we will be able to announce who they are.

More 'kitchen' cabinets

A few weeks back, during one of the educational visits, one of the teachers decided to sit on the worktop that was situated at the back of the meeting room during a lecture to their students. Unfortunately this resulted in both worktop and cupboards being damaged. During the past 2 weeks, Barney has made an excellent job of repairing the cupboard and worktop, and also managed to raise the worktop high enough to now fit a new fridge underneath.

Visitor numbers and education visits still increasing

We are pleased to report that visitor numbers to both the Park and the Museum are steadily increasing, with a recent peak over the school half term. We have also had an increase in volunteers which is also good news.

Educational visits by local schools, colleges and groups are around 3 per week. With Lin organising/coordinating and Derek and Sheridan looking after the kids during their visit we are getting some very positive feedback. We hope to have details of our educational visit packs soon.

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