Yesterday I took a trip to the first official Vintage Computing Festival in Britain. I was a little surprised to hear that it was the first, but I imagine that there are plenty of ‘unofficial’ gatherings too. This event was held by the National Museum of Computing in Bletchley Park, which warrants a visit in its own right.
For the weekend’s festival, Bletchley was transformed into vintage computing heaven: a couple of marquees and the ground floor of the house were packed with computers of all makes and models, each one up and running and ready for some hands-on time. The vast majority were being used for gaming – chuckie egg was all over the place – but I did spot the odd word-processing application here and there.
I thought I’d post some pictures from two exhibits that really caught my eye.
First was the BBC playing the 1980s BBC Domesday project from laserdisc. Look right and you’ll see some video footage that we found having searched for ‘falklands’. I’ve read quite a bit about the BBC Domesday laserdiscs over the years (after the CAMiLEON project they’ve become digital preservation folklore), but seeing the content at stake, and interacting with it on a contemporary platform is something quite special. I also suffer from BBC Micro nostalgia (though this is a Master).
This other I’m including partly for nostalgic reasons (I loved my spectrums, and so did my sister and my grandfather 🙂 ), and partly because it amused me. Twittering from a spectrum! Whatever next?!
May be useful. Cross-platform and supports a few kinds of media and disk image. Also uses file signature analysis (which can be expanded to support further identification) and is capable of carving out files. http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/PhotoRec
The first step in doing anything useful with a digital accession is to answer just that question. The next is generally “now that I know, what ‘stuff’ do I need to recover the data and how might I do that?”. With some items, it’s easy enough. With others it can be rather more challenging. Alex Eveleigh just pointed me at Mediapedia – a database being developed at The National Library of Australia to help folk identify media. Best of all, it sounds like it’s been designed to help people find things by easily determined characteristics (e.g. physical measurements) rather than relying on the user to know, more or less, what they are looking for. Super idea.
This Omniflop software was designed as a tool for archiving data residing on older floppy formats. It understands a number of older floppy disk formats and can read/write disk images that can be passed to an appropriate emulator. It also claims to be able to work out disk formats it has not previously encountered. Could be worth a closer look.
Just before the Christmas break, Chris Rusbridge of the DCC offered to recover obsolete files. Today is the ‘closing date’ for submissions. I hope Chris gets some interesting submissions that we can hear about in due course. See Chris’ blog entry for more info.