The UK's National Museum of Computing (TNMOC) at Bletchley Park held a competition that enabled children to build LEGO models of some of the computers in its display. These included the Colossus code-breaking computer and the WITCH, both of which are based on valves (vacuum tubes), a transistor-based IBM 1130, and IBM PCs and Apple Macintoshes from the 1980s. Building a model obviously encourages kids to take a closer look at the originals, as well as providing a rewarding activity, particularly for the majority of entrants whose ages had yet to reach double figures.
The classic Mac is probably the simplest machine to model in LEGO, but lots of kids attempted the much larger machines. As one of the judges, I particularly liked Christopher Foster's entry for including minifigs as operators. The winner in the 5-11 age group was seven-year old Yaprak Campion with his excellent version of Colossus (below). The 12-16 age group was won by 15-year-old Scott Murtin with a model of the IBM 1130. Extra prizes went to Sophie Adams for another IBM 1130, and to Alfie Chandler for an IBM PC.
There are pictures of the LEGO vintage computer competition winners on TNMOC's website.
Yaprak Campion's class will now get to visit Legoland for a free LEGO Computer Design & Control Workshop.
The other judges were James Pegrum, first builder of a LEGO Colossus, Lynette Webb of Google UK, Rob Pickering of IP Cortex and three from TNMOC: Chris Monk, Andrew Spencer and Owen Grover. If you have not seen Pegrum's Colossus and other LEGO models, they are stunning.
TNMOC has not received any British government or Lottery funding, but has done a heroic job in an area largely neglected by the Science Museum. Two years ago, ZDNet UK spent a day operating from TNMOC as an experiment in remote working and disaster recovery planning (). Sadly, this did not include LEGO model-building.