Exciting news on the Harwell machine, VCF activities and ways to help the museum
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A slightly overdue, but bumper edition update on the goings on in and out of the museum....
'The' IRIS video - or don't give up your day job
With the system being primarily DEC based (PDP11/84s and PDP 11/34s) it was decided to show it off at the DEC legacy event (see below). It was clearly too big to move so the original plan was to show the system via a video link. However, this meant 2 of the 3 people who were planning to go would have to stay behind and demonstrate the system. So it was decided to make a video of the system and take it with them. We only had a week to do this so it was done pretty much on-the-fly with very little planning. So it was left to Kevin M (Camera and er... director) and Peter V (the presenter / voice over) to try and get enough usable footage to make a semi-presentable video of the system. After several hours of filming, with lots of out-takes and 'film' on the cutting room floor they hopefully had enough to make a presentation. Kevin M then spent the next week editing the clips and managed to scrape together enough footage to make a 10 min video.
Sadly (for you), but fortunately for Peter V, the actual film, while just OK for the presentation, contains quite a few factual errors and a few bits that were missed, so for now it is not being released. They hope to redo some of the footage and produce a releasable film in the near future once they have had more practice and refined the Chumley Warner - OK, wooden presenters style.
DEC legacy event
Several months ago the Museum was asked if they wanted to attend a DEC legacy event in Windemere and show off some of the equipment we had. After the mad rush with the IRIS video and collecting and fixing some portable DEC systems, Kevin M, Ben T and Peter V took a very long (6.5 hour) trip up to the Lake District. The event took place over two days (Sat 16th and Sun 17th April) with approx 35 people attending.
Saturday morning was spent setting up the various displays - there were 6 groups showing off equipment - with TNMOC having DEC Professional 350, DECmate III, DEC Rainbow 100, various development/prototype systems and a DECTalk box. The event kicked off with TNMOC giving a short talk about the museum and the VCF event (Kevin M). This was followed by a talk about the IRIS Air Traffic Control system history (Ben T) and details of the system restoration (Peter V), finishing up with a 10 minute video of the IRIS system being described, started up and running. Throughout the day other talks were done, some via video link with time for people to wander around the exhibits and talk about DEC in general.
TNMOC were asked to give out small prizes for various categories, so during a meal at a local pub they came up with the categories such as best display, best talk etc. After a more leisurely start on Sunday and a video based talk, TNMOC gave out small prizes to various categories. Due to the time it was likely to get back they packed up and left just after lunch but fortunately the trip back was a lot quicker, only 4 hours. The event went really well and the organiser also offered to donate any profits to the museum, which was very nice. While the travelling was somewhat tiring, the location and sunny day made up for it.
Harwell makes a noise
Tony F reported some very exciting news with the HDC restoration during the past few weeks. Eddie had finally completed cleaning and adjusting the relays and Johan and Tony had got enough of the power supply working to actually switch on a small part of the system. After numerous checks and rechecks and a few recent fuses to replace the originals the system was switched on and the relays allowed to chatter and reset. This was repeated several times without any problems and is thought to be the first time it has operated (albeit in a limited fashion) for 30+ years.
Tony had also completed repairing and rewiring all of the dekatron store boxes and is making progress on designing and building a Dekatron store exerciser - we can't wait to see all those dekatrons lighting up! You can follow the progress of the restoration of the HDC and other systems on the projects page.
VCF is only 7 weeks away... eeek!
Planning and event co-ordination by Simon Hewitt and a team of both Bletchley Park and TNMOC people is progressing at a much faster pace now with only 7 weeks to go. The event line-up is coming together with the recent, and very exciting news, that OMD will be at the event giving a talk, Q&A and a music session in the Mansion. We also have a number of key industry speakers already signed up as well volunteers in the museum who will talk about some of the systems we have or are restoring.
Space is becoming limited so if you would like a pitch in our flea market or have a collection you want to display, or even if you could help with sponsoring the event please get in touch with Simon Hewitt or Kevin Murrell at email@example.com.
Finding the necessary funding to keep the museum running is an on-going challenge for the Trustees, especially as we still need to find £70,000 per year for the rent of H-Block and the fact that we get no monies from Bletchley Park, the government or the lottery. As part of the process of securing funds for the future, two major announcements have been made; The Corporate Foundation Sponsorship Programme which enables companies to donate £12,500 per year, for 3 years and the membership package for individuals which allows individuals to donate £45 for a years membership of the museum. Both schemes offer incentives and preferential rates to exhibitions and our corporate events. We have had several companies sign up for the foundation scheme (details will be announced in due course) and after only 2 weeks, over 50 individuals have signed up to the membership scheme.
So blatant plug time...If you are a company who are looking to contribute to a very worthy cause, run by a very dedicated team of volunteers please get it touch with Kevin Murrell. If you are an individual who would like to help the museum, please sign up for the membership scheme.
And finally, to all the companies and individuals who have donated money, time and resources, we would like to thank you all. We are fast becoming a major attraction and one of the best computing museums in the UK and it is your contributions that have allowed us to achieve this and, with further funding, will allow us to continue to build on a sound foundation for years to come.