Paul Allens's Living Computer Museum in Seattle

User avatar
dokyun

08 Jan 2017, 07:53

The Mechanical Keyboards subreddit had a Seattle meetup on Janurary 7th, 2017 at The Living Computer Museum in Seattle's Sodo district. Yours truly was there to participate and document this event, which strangely does not seem to have any discussion at all about the museum on these forums. It is indeed a "Living" computer museum, as nearly all the exhibits on display are working examples, to which you are free and encouraged to interact with a great deal of them. The range of equipment the museum possesses ranges from the modern day VR headsets all the way back to 1950s era vintage kit. Game disks are provided for most machines, though there are Basic and productivity disks as well. I won't list all the exhibits out here, but needless to say it includes a great deal of rare and exotic keyboards and switch types that are nearly impossible to come across in the wild, much less attached to a working specimen of their native machine. If you're in the pacific northwest or happen to be passing through Seattle, I would call the museum a must visit for anyone from these forums.

I didn't take any pictures of the venue itself, though Google maps has us covered there with a walkthrough of the third floor where most of the exhibits are located (Be sure to go through the double doors on the west wall to see the "conditioned" room). A full list of exhibits can also be found on the museum's website.
20170107_212606325_iOS.jpg
20170107_212606325_iOS.jpg (1.69 MiB) Viewed 1217 times
Cindy's 3278 Beamspring is on display and operational, though without a mainframe to attach to it can't do very much at the moment. The room it's located in contains many running mainframes and microcomputers and as such is fairly noisy - I actually strained a bit to hear key presses without the solenoid on. Suddenly, it's existence makes sense!
20170107_212628080_iOS.jpg
20170107_212628080_iOS.jpg (1.36 MiB) Viewed 1217 times
These Cherry M7 boards were attached to a Xerox Sigma 9, one of the systems you can actually request your own personal login for from the museum.
20170107_213124852_iOS.jpg
20170107_213124852_iOS.jpg (1.12 MiB) Viewed 1217 times
This VT131 welcomes all to sign-in to a PDP-11/70.
20170107_213251833_iOS.jpg
20170107_213251833_iOS.jpg (1.77 MiB) Viewed 1217 times
The elusive Fujitsu Leafspring lives here in it's native environment. These switches really are quite lovely to have a go at.
20170107_213452852_iOS.jpg
20170107_213452852_iOS.jpg (1.23 MiB) Viewed 1217 times
According to the museum, this is one of only 2 functional examples of a Xerox Alto in the world.
20170107_214259302_iOS.jpg
20170107_214259302_iOS.jpg (1.47 MiB) Viewed 1217 times
This Teletype was operational and had a game of chess going on at the time. I'm not old enough to have seen these operating ~*back in the day*~ but the noise they make when the head smacks in succession is fantastic.
20170107_213539498_iOS.jpg
20170107_213539498_iOS.jpg (1.74 MiB) Viewed 1217 times
Oh dear, a ruffian has vandalized this poor Heathkit terminal and left it to it's fate to run an insidious advertisement forever!
20170107_214504162_iOS.jpg
20170107_214504162_iOS.jpg (1.57 MiB) Viewed 1217 times
This 029 card punch was turned on, a museum guide was able to show me how it operated and I now have a commemorative punch card that says "DONGS" to remember my visit by and cherish forever.
20170107_224006450_iOS.jpg
20170107_224006450_iOS.jpg (1.57 MiB) Viewed 1217 times
As mentioned above there was a keyboard meetup going on at the time as well, though I neglected to take too many pictures of that. In the sea of MX and MX clone boards this one caught my attention - a custom monterey blues board on a Magicforce frame.
20170108_001608936_iOS.jpg
20170108_001608936_iOS.jpg (593 KiB) Viewed 1217 times
In the interests of fairness, here is one of those MX boards - I find Zealios to be easily the best of the Cherry MX and MX clones lineup that's out there. I still like Matias quiet clicks more though, and the high cost of entry (over $1 per switch) means I'm probably unlikely to ever seek out building something with em.
20170108_001657641_iOS.jpg
20170108_001657641_iOS.jpg (677.97 KiB) Viewed 1217 times
Somehow, an Acorn Electron had found it's way to Seattle.

User avatar
seebart
Offtopicthority Instigator

08 Jan 2017, 08:22

Great pictures, that Xerox Alto alone WOW...
The room it's located in contains many running mainframes and microcomputers and as such is fairly noisy - I actually strained a bit to hear key presses without the solenoid on. Suddenly, it's existence makes sense!
Loud mainframes and microcomputers need loud(er) keyboards! Makes sense.

User avatar
alh84001
v.001

08 Jan 2017, 11:50

Nice report. And too think I was staying in a hotel 2 minutes from there and haven't visited :(

Nice, displaywritery keycaps on that Acorn.

User avatar
paecific.jr

08 Jan 2017, 15:41

Wow...
I should go to a meetup sometime...

Menuhin

08 Jan 2017, 16:18

"Living computer" museum, such a great concept!
I hope in a living computer museum, I can have the chance to try out some of those legendary computers, such as the Lisp Machine.

User avatar
Chyros

08 Jan 2017, 23:25

As soon as I read "Paul Allen" I thought of this; surely this is not him? xD

User avatar
seebart
Offtopicthority Instigator

08 Jan 2017, 23:35

I thought of Microsoft Paul Allen who has enough $$$ to build any museum. Anyway that's a great movie Chyros and a great scene from that movie. I own that CD too BTW. :evilgeek:

User avatar
dokyun

09 Jan 2017, 18:49

seebart wrote: I thought of Microsoft Paul Allen who has enough $$$ to build any museum.
Yes, that one. A computer museum run by the other Paul would be uh...probably not that interesting ;)

User avatar
zslane

09 Jan 2017, 19:07

I believe that museum holds the only complete DPS8/M Multics system left in the world. Unfortunately, AFAIK, it can't be booted.

DMA

09 Jan 2017, 22:30

Awcrap. Missed it.

User avatar
livingspeedbump
Not what they seem

10 Jan 2017, 16:23

Sad I missed this. Was hoping I'd have moved in time to make it. Will surely make future ones.

User avatar
vivalarevolución
formerly prdlm2009

11 Jan 2017, 01:32

Meh, I'm more an Apple guy.

Just kidding! Great photos and cool collection. And some of those vintage keycaps are just damn sexy.

unused0

05 Oct 2018, 05:24

zslane wrote: I believe that museum holds the only complete DPS8/M Multics system left in the world. Unfortunately, AFAIK, it can't be booted.
The LCM has the maintenance panel (lots and lots of blinking lights) from a Honeywell 6180 (the previous hardware generation of the DSPS8/M) mainframe. The panel is wired into a 6180 emulator running Multics.

Picture about halfway down on https://livingcomputers.org/Discover/Vi ... uters.aspx

The last known remaining Multics computer is in storage at the Computer History Museum.

User avatar
zslane

05 Oct 2018, 18:54

Yeah, I worked with Charles Anthony (and the rest of the dps8 emulation crew) to get the Multics emulator working, though my contributions were pretty minimal and consisted mostly of testing the software. I have an emulated Multics up and running on a Linux VM running under Hyper-V on my Win10 machine at home. It brings back so many great memories!

Post Reply

Return to “Gallery”