The first floor of the Living Computer Museum was filled with retro computers/gaming machines and vendor booths. The Seattle Retro Computing Society’s booth featured several desktop machines set up for visitors to view and, in some cases play.
On the second floor of the Living Computer Museum, visitors could check out several classic games on a who’s who of desktop machines, including Maniac Mansion on this Commodore and Myst on a Power Macintosh.
This Commodore PET 2001 Series, with its 1MHz CPU and built-in Datasette storage device, was apparently not in a mood to play games.
With Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen behind the Living Computer Museum, it’s only natural to see an exhibit exploring the humble beginnings of the Windows operating system. In this case, an IBM PC runs Microsoft Windows 1.0, which, as the exhibit points out, was not widely adopted when it debuted on November 20th, 1985. Later versions of the OS would go on to sell slightly better.
Members of a younger generation check out Jordan Mechner’s classic Prince of Persia on an Apple Macintosh SE, with its 8MHz CPU and 9-inch monochrome display. The game was originally released on the Apple II in 1989 and saw a port to the Mac three years later.
This Commodore VIC-20, the predecessor to the popular Commodore 64 line, featured a 1MHz or 1.1MHz CPU depending on the region. Introduced in the early ‘80s for less than $300, the VIC-20 was a best-seller in its day. The machine was on hand at the Living Computer Museum, in case visitors preferred a nice game of chess.
It wasn’t all fun and games during the Vintage Computer Faire, as evidenced by this IMS Associates IMSAI 8080. Introduced in 1975 and boasting Intel’s 8080 CPU, the IMSAI 8080 was a clone of the MITS Altair 8800, but with, as the exhibit notes, “better switches and a more polished exterior.”
The IBM System 360/Model 91 was a powerhouse during the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. While its days of carrying out complex scientific calculations are long gone, it still puts on a good light show.
A close-up view of the System 360/Model 91’s dazzling lights. According to the museum, this console panel is the only part remaining from a huge Model 91 once housed at Princeton University.
Stored in a separate, air conditioned room, this DEC PDP-10 certainly commands a good bit of floor space. While it may look unwieldy today, nearly 50 years after its debut, the museum points out the individual cabinets house elements (CPU, memory, storage) that aren’t too different from the components found in modern PCs and smartphones.
While many of the newer computers were available for folks to poke and prod, some exhibits, like this DEC PDP-7, were in strictly “look, but don’t touch” mode. And since this particular system is one of the few still in operable condition, that’s pretty understandable. The PDP-7 was introduced in the mid-‘60s at a starting price of $72,000.
No retro computer and gaming exhibit would be complete without some Atari love. Here, an Atari 800 offers up some Pac-Man. The 8-bit system was released at the tail end of 1979 with a whopping 8KB of onboard memory, though it officially supported up to 48KB.
In addition to fully functioning systems, the Living Computer Museum also showcases individual components, so visitors can get a visual sense of just how far computer technology has come in the past few decades. Case in point: This pizza-sized 32KB x 18 memory module from a DEC PDP-11.
A working Xerox Alto is among the highlights at the Living Computer Museum. One of the very first “personal computers,” the Alto debuted in 1973 and helped lay the groundwork for modern computers with its use of a mouse-driven graphical user interface (GUI).
Processor Technology chose to wrap its Intel 8080-based Sol Terminal Computer in some serious wood paneling, a far cry from the magnesium and machined aluminum currently wrapping computers, tablets and smartphones.
The first floor of the Living Computer Museum was populated with a number of vintage pinball machines and cocktail arcade cabinets, including Asteroids and Donkey Kong. In all, some 1,200 people attended the one-day event.
In one corner of the event, a pair of MakerBot Replicator 2X 3D printers busily churned out copies of “Bit,” the official mascot for the Vintage Computer Faire.
Like a classic Corvette at a car show, this Commodore PET had its hood propped open so visitors could get a close-up look at the internals running the show inside this desktop from the late ‘70s.
The appeal and challenge of classic games like Asteroids, seen here in cocktail-arcade form, are as strong today as they were decades ago.
While it’s technically not a computer, this DeLorean DMC-12 in full Back to the Future garb is definitely vintage.
According to the movie series, we have just a few months left to get a working version of this on the market, folks.