The Centre for Computing History visit 10/01/10

Here is a quick report on my visit to The Centre for Computing History on the 10th January 2010. The museum was established to create a permanent public exhibition that tells the story of the Information Age. The computer museum preserves and presents a collection of important computers and related artifacts. It spotlights the people behind the inventions and records the information necessary to inspire and enthuse future generations.

Based in Suffolk, we believe the Centre for Computing History is the only museum dedicated to computers and their social impact in the United Kingdom.

Machines donated by me

I have given the 2 machines to the museum.

  • GRiDPad 1910
  • Apple Quadra 950

Deep Blue

The museum now has a IBM Deep Blue supercomputer. You may have heard of these machines before. They are famous for playing chess against Garry Kasparov. It’s a huge machine! Its currently in the reception area of the museum. Unfortunately, we have not been able to power it on yet as we don’t have a suitable power supply for it. It’s not as simple as plugging in a 13 amp plug in a wall socket!

You can read more about this phenomenal machine at Wikipedia.

Apple Performa 475 build

When you are working on old computers, there may be a time where you need to archive disks, or write disk images onto blanks. Reading/Writing PC disks is relatively easy with no special hardware required. If you want to read/write 400k 3.5″ disks written by a Apple Macintosh 128k, it’s not so simple!

To get around this issue, I retrieved one of the many Apple Performa 475 we have from storage. I completely wiped its hard drive, replaced its PRAM battery, popped in a LAN adapter and installed System 7.5.5. I also installed Open Transport so it could access a TCP/IP based AppleTalk servers – but we had a problem! We don’t have a server that can support AppleTalk. So I had to build one. See further down this blog post for more information! We could have used FTP, but I wanted something a bit simpler!

Once the machine was built and ready to go, I installed the disk imaging software. That’s it! We can now archive 400k,800k and 1.4Mb Macintosh formatted floppy disks, Zip disks, Syquest drives and many more! Once the disks have been imaged, we copy them to one of our file servers from the AppleTalk server.

Netatalk & Avahi server

As mentioned in the Apple build above, we needed a AppleTalk/AFP file server. For the server, we used the following hardware that was just laying around doing nothing.

  • Pentium III 1Ghz
  • 640Mb RAM
  • 1 * 40Gb Hard disk (this has Windows 2000 on)
  • 1 * 60Gb Hard disk for the Linux install.
  • 100Mb LAN adapter.

I decided to install Ubuntu Server 9.10 x32 on this PC as this has the netatalk binaries in the repositories. Apart from the base install, the following addional packages were installed.

  • OpenSSH – allows us to use putty to connect to a console session and to transfer files via SFTP
  • Samba – So windows clients can access the data
  • Netatalk – The AppleTalk file server
  • Avahi-daemon (mDNS server – bit like Bonjour on Mac OS X)

For a detailed description now how to install Netatalk and Avahi, see the following blog post at Kremalicious.

Ta da!!! – we have a AppleTalk server!

Conclusion

This is was a very successful visit to the musuem, and we got a lot done. Im planning to go to the museum again in the next few weeks. We need to prepare for a very important event happinging in April. Watch this space for more information.

I reccomend you take a look at the museums website. If you can help the museum in any way you can contact them directly using the addresses below.

General Questions & Information :
Contact : David Coxshall – Email : admin@computinghistory.org.uk

Press & PR
Contact : Elaine Collins – press@computinghistory.org.uk
Telephone : 01440 708494

Technical Queries & Vintage Computer Hire
Contact : Jason Fitzpatrick – info@computinghistory.org.uk

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