Bletchley Park loads 2,000 for vintage computer festival

Summary:The huts and lawns of The National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park were invaded this weekend by old computers and those who love them

More than 2,000 technology enthusiasts visited the first British Vintage Computer Festival at Bletchley Park on Saturday and Sunday. The festival, organised by The National Museum of Computing, brought together a huge range of people and machinery of many vintages, from the years of the Second World War to the brand new.

"We had an amazing weekend," the event's lead organiser Simon Hewitt told ZDNet UK. "It was a real festival atmosphere with more than 2,000 visitors, and we've received lots of very positive feedback. TNMOC [The National Museum of Computing] volunteers put in a tremendous effort, and many of us were exhausted but very happy after the event."

There are more pictures and details in our Vintage Computer Festival photo gallery.

Opened by Chris Serle, who presented BBC technology TV programmes in the early 1980s, the event included the launch of a new Amiga computer, live music from chip-tunes maestro Pixelh8 and '80s synth kings Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, talks on all aspects of vintage technology, and newsreels from the last 60 years of British computing. The real stars of the show, though, were a large and varied collection of microcomputers from the '70s through to the '90s, with a particular emphasis on the 8-bit micros that gave so many in the industry their first taste of digital technology.

 
Vintage Computer Festival photo

Many visitors were younger than even the more recent exhibits

With two marquees and the Bletchley Park mansion itself filled with hundreds of exhibits, the emphasis was as hands-on as possible. As well as vintage machines running vintage software, there were many examples of modern hardware emulating older or rarer computers, as well as old machines being used in ways that their inventors could not have imagined.

Vintage Computer Festival Twitter photo

A 1982 ZX Spectrum running Twitter was very popular.

There was also a brisk trade in computers, magazines and other paraphernalia, with computers that once cost thousands of pounds finding new homes for the cost of one of today's videogames. The morning trains to Bletchley had carriages full of 8-bit computer company logos on passenger t-shirts; on the return, many of those shirts were accompanied by the hardware that first carried those logos.

Vintage Computer Festival Twitter photo

A visitor forks out a fiver for a four-function Commodore LED calculator.

Proceeds from the festival are going to support TNMOC, which also used the occasion to announced its first Foundation Sponsor, Insightsoftware.com.

For more pictures and details, see our Vintage Computer Festival photo gallery, which is best viewed while listening to the Museum's musical soul, Pixelh8.

Topics: After Hours

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Editor, ZDNet UK. Ex technology/technical editor of ZDNet UK, IT Week, PC Magazine, Computer Life, Mac User, Alfa Systems, Amstrad, Sinclair. Micronet 800, Marconi Space and Defence Systems, and a dodgy TV repair shop in the back streets of Plymouth. Can still swap out a gassy PL509 with the best of 'em.Dear Reader - contact me via our m... Full Bio

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