What's it like to be a volunteer at TNMOC?
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Andrew Spencer describes himself as a words rather than a numbers man and thoroughly enjoys his volunteer stewarding at TNMOC. He tells visitors the stories about the machines and loves to hear their reactions, especially when they reveal their own computing experiences too.
“When I started volunteering at the Museum, I didn’t recognise many of the machines. A lot was alien territory to me, but then I listened to other volunteers and did some background reading and the place sprang to life for me.
“Now, on two Sunday afternoons each month, you’ll find me stewarding in the First Generation Gallery and the Large Systems Room talking about computers like the 1951 WITCH and the 1949 EDSAC. I tell visitors the fascinating stories about these early computers and get a real thrill when they can tell me their experiences too.
“There’s a buzz about the place and the rewards from volunteering have far exceeded my expectations. It’s a lot of fun -- the Museum really values its volunteers and the interaction with visitors is very refreshing and stimulating after a week’s work.
“One of my favourite encounters was when I greeted a couple about to tour the Museum. The lady was already trailing her husband by about ten feet and whispered wryly to me: This is a bit like him going shopping with me! She clearly wasn’t looking forward to the visit, so I was delighted when she came up to me at the end, beaming saying: That was fantastic! Brilliant! I must confess I didn’t believe you at first when you said we would both enjoy it.
“I wish we had more volunteer stewards so that we could open more often to the general public. So I’d appeal to anyone with even a faint interest in computing to join us – I bet they get hooked on the subject like me.”
Sheridan Williams -- another volunteer's experience