Visiting the Jim Austin Computer Museum

If you know what this is, you'll want to go and see it. If you don't know what this is, you really should go and find out. Click through the image to more pictures. 

If you know what this is, you'll want to go and see it. If you don't know what this is, you really should go and find out. Click through the image to more pictures. 

Jim Austin is a Computer Science Professor at the University of York. He has a lot of computers. A lot. I've got one or two. He's got all the other ones. Today he was kind enough to give us a guided tour of the barns where he keeps them all. We were there for several hours, but it felt like several minutes. And I'm sure that all we did was scratch the surface of what is there.

Jim has computers going right back to the start of computing. Persistence and being in the right place at the right time with a lorry has meant that he has mainframes, mini-computers, micro-processors and everything in between spanning the entire computer age. 

He takes the view that this is heritage stuff and I think he is so right. These machines have totally changed the way that we live our lives and the way that they have evolved is quite breathtaking. It is very strange to see so many things that were state of the art in their heyday, and I remember watching them on TV science programs in the past being celebrated as the future.

In a perfect world we'd have all this set out for mass public access. York has a fantastic railway museum that tells the story of how the railways revolutionised the world. We need something similar for computers. Last year I was lucky enough to get to visit the Living Computer Museum in Seattle. The stuff that Jim has deserves to have a setup just the same. Only bigger. 

You can find out more about the museum here. If you live in the Hull, York area you should see if you can get a chance to see what is there. If you live anywhere else in the world you should also try to get to see the stuff. And I don't think you'd regret the trip.