I’m fascinated by any old computers. The interesting thing about the majority of retro equipment is that you can pick stuff up pretty cheap compared to the original prices when the stuff was originally sold (unless it’s rare). I currently have a very limited collection of an Atari ST 1040 and a Power Mac G4. There’s plenty of other people who collect retro computers and have pretty extensive collections. There’s also a fascinating subset of collectors who via stories that are just as interesting as the hardware itself, have acquired and installed mainframes and supercomputers in their own homes.
One of the first stories I cam across was of 18 year old (at the time) Conor Krukosky who picked up an IBM z890 mainframe for $200 from an online auction and installed it in the basement of his parent’s home. The story of how they moved 1 ton of mainframe hardware into the basement is rather amusing. This is a great presentation by Conor on getting his mainframe up and running. Conor’s hobby and a number of presentations on his experiences setting up his z890 led to a job working for IBM on their current generation z mainframes.
Here’s another fascinating presentation by Camiel Vanderhoeven who acquired a 1984 Convex C1 – a mini supercomputer at it’s time, at $900,000 was originally 1/10 the price of a Cray 1, about 1/3 the performance, and at 3KW power consumption that’s 1/38 the power consumption of the Cray 1. If one unit wasn’t enough, he later came across someone clearing out a number of Convex CPU cabinets and took delivery of several palettes of additional Convex equipment. Another fascinating presentation of getting the hardware up and running.
If you have links to any similar stories, leave me a comment below!