It started out as a joke, like most things - bear in mind this was 1998. Because of me unearthing a load of my old computing mags up in my folks' loft and the power of emulators I started playing Speccy and ZX81 games on the PC and happened to remark that the original machines were probably v.collectable now and would cost the earth. I was told to 'go to the next boot sale and you'll get them for a quid each'. That's one UK pound for overseas readers, or at current exchange rates about 35 cents :). Also in the US a car boot sale is normally a Yard sale instead
Since I'd never been to boot sales before because I assumed it would be full of old people selling china elephants etc I went to the next one and picked up an Enterprise 64 for £3 including free muddy bootprint.....the rest, as they say, is expense. I decided to set up a museum and try to get every machine that was around when I was at school.....at first it was one of each machine, eg *a* Spectrum, *an* Amiga, but soon became each *model* when I discovered how plentiful they were. I also kept all the magazines I got at the time, so it's easy to see what was around then for the purposes of picking up now.
The Museum now contains a hoard of vintage machinery, aka 'a load of old shite' according to friends, that ranges from the very first 70's Pong-style TV game through the MOS KIM-1, Apple Lisa, Sinclair Spectrum, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC464 to the Amiga 1200, NeXTStation and Apple Mac G3 of the 90's. Some came whole, some came in bits, some even came in boxes, some didn't have power supplies and sometimes you buy a game and they throw in the machine as well, but when you're paying 50p you don't really care :o)
Having collected these things since 1998 I've been surprised by the amount of other folk who either collect them too or are still interested in seeing things like this after all this time. Of course, now the retro thing is in full swing visits to the site have gone up in the last year or so as more and more people my age see a reference point to something Sinclair related or Commodore related and spend a happy couple of hours wallowing in nostalgia! I also get waifs and strays who've been looking for things like 'dinosaurs' or other words mentioned on the site, and if they're the right age they stay for a while too :o)
For now the museum will have to stay virtual because of space constraints but one day I plan to make it a proper exhibition for people to visit. I just need 1000 square feet of secure dry space to fit everything in! A current list of needs is on the Wanted page.
Of course, donations are always welcome, and as long as its not too distant from Cambridge (UK, not Mass.) I'll come and pick up whatever you have.....
The question you're all thinking is WHY? and the answer is 'because I can'. Really though, I cut my teeth programming on the Sinclair series from the ZX80 upwards (said ZX80 was borrowed off my Physics teacher in 1980 and I learned recently that it had bitten the dust a long time ago) and I'm now in a position to buy all the other machines that were around at the time that I wanted but couldn't afford, being a humble skoolboy who couldn't be arsed to get a saturday job.
Obviously (to me) the museum inhabitants are important historically - 1972 saw the birth of home video games with the Magnavox Odyssey, 1977 saw the release of the venerable Atari VCS, 1980 saw the release of the Sinclair ZX80 - the first home computer under £99, 1982 saw the first video game market crash and the release of the Sinclair Spectrum, 1985 saw the great UK home computer market crash as lots of companies ran out of money etc as well as the release of the Commodore Amiga, Sir Tim Berners-Lee invended the World Wide Web on a NeXT Cube, the list goes on!
So! If you've rifled thru the loft and were on the verge of binning that Lisa 1 or you were close to lobbing that Oric Telestrat out of the window, or isn't that a COMX35 holding up the sideboard in the dining room? Send 'em my way! I'll even pay the postage if you donate :o)