A warehouse in the Western Sydney suburb of Villawood is about to get torn down, which is nothing new except that the place is stacked from floor to ceiling with ancient tape drives, disk drives, processors, and personal computers. This warehouse is home to the Australian Computer Museum Society (ACMS) and every one of their estimated 50,000 artefacts is up for grabs by Friday, before it all goes in the bin.
The ACMS was set up in 1994 by a guy named John Geremin, or "Big John." When they opened John announced the museum would accept donations, and the warehouse quickly filled. "The problem has been of course that the word got out, and we've had thousands and thousands of donations," John told ABC reporter Ariel Bogle. He then goes on to admit that storage has always been their problem.
Highlights among the museum's shambolic collection include an IBM 1401, which is an early computer the size of a wardrobe, weighing in at 800 kilos. Then there’s something called an Interdata 8/32 which John believes was used to count Australia’s national debt back in the 1970s. Again, it’s a huge unit that stored data on cassette tapes. And according to John, "It's all too good to throw out."
A lot of the museum’s Apple products have already gone, although John says there are still mountains of computer manuals stacked up in milk crates. And although he admits to owning an iPhone, John says the museum holds little 2000s technology, due to the way companies (read: Apple) now design their products to be tinker-proof.
"In the early days, if you wanted to change the way that the computer looked and felt, you could have a go at it," he told the ABC, lamenting how times had changed.
If you’d like to claim your own piece of dust-covered history, head over to ACMS before August 10. That’s at 888 Woodville Road, Villawood, 10AM to 10PM.