One Day in the Centre of Computing History

It was my third day in Cambridgeshire, and it was an adorable sunny day. After looking it up on Google Maps, I decided to go The Centre of Computing History, which attracted me at first glance on the map.

And it turned out to be a wonderful experience there! Basically you can actually get your hands on those old computers, from the 70s all the way to the 90s. They even have some working punch tape machines!

Cocoa on Punch Tape

And here is the encode/decode table~ The whitespace is shown as to avoid vertical mismatches. The small dot . is used for locating the horizontal line and speed. And the big dot denotes the actual punched hole on the tape.

Tape Letters Figures
␣␣.␣␣␣ Delete Delete
␣␣.␣␣• E 3
␣␣.␣•␣ Line Feed Line Feed
␣␣.␣•• A -
␣␣.•␣␣ Space Space
␣␣.•␣• S ,
␣␣.••␣ I 8
␣␣.••• U 7
␣•.␣␣␣ Return Return
␣•.␣␣• D $
␣•.␣•␣ R 4
␣•.␣•• J Bell
␣•.•␣␣ N ,
␣•.•␣• F ]
␣•.••␣ C :
␣•.••• K (
Tape Letters Figures
•␣.␣␣␣ T 5
•␣.␣␣• Z +
•␣.␣•␣ L )
•␣.␣•• W 2
•␣.•␣␣ H I
•␣.•␣• Y 6
•␣.••␣ P 0
•␣.••• Q 1
••.␣␣␣ O 9
••.␣␣• B ?
••.␣•␣ G [
••.␣•• Use Figures Use Figures
••.•␣␣ M .
••.•␣• X /
••.••␣ V =
••.••• Use Letters Use Letters

The punch tape machine is not the first thing you would see when walked into the centre, nevertheless, it's totally worth to put it in the very beginning of this post.

However, their location is relative far from the centre of Cambridge. So the first time when I walking to their spot, it was like, "Oh, there're a lot of warehouses and car wash shops, maybe my expectation is well beyond the reality><"

After I bought the ticket, £9 for adult, I thought the price was a little bit high until I saw what they have in this centre (゜o゜;

The first big thing in their spot is a giant handmade computer!

Special Purpose Registers

You can literally see everything inside a computer, and they even allow people to program it. I love the memory part, it shows so clearly what's inside the memory. Thus you may use that as a canvas! Just like the photo I took, which displays GAME OVER on it.

Control & I/O
Input & Instruction Decoding

The detailed manual can be referred on their website, and just remember to bring your hex file next time!

This is one small part of its general purpose registers

Then I walked into the 80s room. There were about 12-20 old machines. And you can program on them! Some of the machines were equipped with manuals, some were not.

I tried an old BBC Computer, which used BASIC as its programming language. And its CRT display was really large compared with today's.


Though basically nobody uses BASIC today, you could do some cool stuff with that. Many games back in the 80s or 90s were using BASIC.

Well, I'm not good at BASIC, so I went to the main hall.

The first thing I saw was an old SONY CRT monitor.

And by its side, there was a special edition of Apple IIGS. It got Woz's signature on the front panel.

While I was sighing for not able to use it, I saw a working Apple Macintosh 128K! (It's NOT a museum of Apple Macintosh, but Macintosh is definitely one of the things that catches my eyes!)

OwO Cocoa

It was the first Macintosh Apple released. And it still works today, which is fantastic! There're many topics, like the famous "1984" advertisement, remaining to be discussed, but they're exceeded the scope of this post.


I have to say that, the paint program on Windows is just copying the MacPaint! Just look how similar they're!

Control Panel on Apple Macintosh 128K

And here goes the Control Panel of Apple Macintosh 128K.

The Macintosh™ Finder

Compared with today's Finder (macOS 10.14.5)

Finder, macOS 10.14.5

Yet another Apple computer~

And then met Macintosh Portable! Sadly, it wasn't turned on, and I was not sure whether if it still works or not. Although not knowing it works or not, it still looks beautiful and nice!

The following are Apple III and Apple Macintosh performa 5300~

Apple III
Apple Macintosh Performa 5300

And how could we miss classic iMac!

Blue iMac with Mac OS 9.1
System Profiler

In the main hall, there's a chess game~

Yep, play with deep blue Σ(・□・;)

And speaking of games, there're plenty of game controllers! Amstrad GX4000, MEGA DRIVE, Super Nintendo, CD-i, AMIGA CD 32, 3DO, JAGUAR, SEGA SATURN, PlayStation 1, NINTENDO 64, Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, Xbox and NINTENDO GAMECUBE, from 90s to 2002.

If you're a game controller lover, I guess that you definitely don't want to miss all these controllers. And they also have lots of street machines!

Furthermore, there're many other stuffs like old phones, disks, cameras, portable computers and even vacuum tube computers(⁎⁍̴̛ᴗ⁍̴̛⁎) The scale of their collections is pretty large.

When I was leaving, I found that they're selling souvenirs at the front door. So, I bought something really old-fashioned——the "Save" button!

Usable 8, 5.25 and 3.5 inches floppy disks

Well, though I said they're usable, I cannot really find a floppy drive (actually, 3 different floppy drives) and plug it to my Mac. But back to the days in my primary school, 3.5' in floppy disk is exactly the thing that I used for storing files.

Some of the computers I played with in the centre

Last, the collectible cards of home computers they selling is lovely(*/ω\*)

声明: 本文为0xBBC原创, 转载注明出处喵~

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