People’s Computer Museum: Friends plan to turn vintage collection into a Capitol Hill hackerspace

(Images: People’s Computer Museum)

Restoring vintage computers started as a hobby for Ian Finder, who had his first crack it when he was replacing old supercomputer machines for a university. Over time, he and his friends began amassing and fixing more retro computers and becoming increasingly interested in finding rare and historically significant machines. Naturally, they started wondering what to do with it all.

The answer became the People’s Computer Museum — a space where anyone can work or play with the refurbished machines. It’s still in the planning phases, but Finder and his friends have secured a space near Thomas and Harvard on Capitol Hill  where they hope to open the museum and hackerspace early next year.

“We love the Living Computer Museum and what it’s doing, but it’s not conducive to people doing projects,” Finder said, referring to the Paul Allen-backed SoDo museum. “By looking at how people architected their systems back then, you can learn about how we got to where we are.”

The PCM inventory runs the gamut from the first commercially available laptop, to early 1980s professional graphics machines, to retro desktops for some nostalgic game playing. Filmmakers and visual artists who want to create graphics on period-correct machines could also find the museum helpful. Finder said a key feature of the space will be giving people the time to complete projects, not just toy around for an hour.

The organizers all have their own day jobs, so the plan is to initially run the space by appointment, though Finder says they’re planning to hold open hours. Since the PCM has far more computers than they can fit into the small basement space, Finder said requests are encouraged. You can reach out to PCM on twitter.

Last year, CHS visited the IO House and hackerspace, where organizers are combining Airbnb boarding with coworking on 10th Ave E. Around the corner on Broadway, Metrix Create:Space continues to anchor the Capitol Hill hackerspace scene.

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4 thoughts on “People’s Computer Museum: Friends plan to turn vintage collection into a Capitol Hill hackerspace

  1. I bought one of these beauties second hand in Vancouver, B.C. in the mid 90’s while I was preparing my manuscript “in Search of Mae West.” Some Capital Hill residents from the mid 90’s may remember that the Chicken Soup Brigade had been given a donation of all of Mae West’s personal effects and the subsequent “out the back door” sale of what should have benefited people living with HIV/ A.I.D.S to a Wallingford Shop and the subsequent scandal which The Stranger exposed. I am still chasing the ongoing Mae West saga which still resonates today. Anyone who has insider information to share is very welcome to contact me through my Facebook page.