I can not truly ascertain if there was one person or a group of people at the ANU. Who pushed forward the idea of a Computer Museum, I have a feeling that David Hawking played a major role. But he has written to me in an email, requesting me not to "exaggerate my role!" so perhaps he played a minor role or perhaps he is modest, I will never know. David says that when the idea for a museum was put forward around about 1995 that there was little opposition "Some of the older academics were quite keen on the idea." He mentions that at the time Melcolm Newey had "his own collection of stuff." David wrote that both Melcolm and himself "were a bit surprised at how uninterested the average undergraduate student is in primitive computing technology." The ANU had a rich history in computing. One if not the first computer used at the ANU was a IBM 1620. It was used by the Astronomy and Astrophysics department situated at a Observatory on Mount Stromlo. It was purchased 2nd of Jan 1962. David thought that "the story of computing at ANU is quite interesting"," that a story could be told
using the accumulated artefacts with accompanying anecdotes which
could both look attractive and keep people interested ... and
perhaps assist in marketing/promoting the department."
In the early 70's David was a Student at the ANU for four years, and has worn many hats at the ANU since. He was in charge of the first student computing facility a DEC KA-10 was used. David was later responsible for a Pyramid 90x, Fujitsu AP1000 and a network of three Sun workstations. An item in the museum collection is related directly to one of the ANU's workstation labs set up in 1990. It is a sign with the words "Engineering Room 45 'THE PUB' SUN WORKSTATION LABORATORY" previous Labs and workstations had tended to be named after Tennis players and the like. But to reflect the values of the folk in the lab, it was decided to name the room the Pub and the 20 black and white Sun workstations in the lab were given names of different beers.
In the early 90's plans were made to build a Computer Science & Information Technology building at the ANU. David heavily influenced the project managers with his vision of how the building should be set out. At the entry lobby that joined the Computer Science and Information Technology wings. It was decided to do "something dramatic" and hence, an area for the computer museum was allocated.
Around about 1995, the Department was allocated some money to employ a person with curatorial expertise and Rachel Eggleton was selected. Rachel attempted to garner money for glass cabinets for use in the museum, but I do not think that she was successful and 'Hand Me Down' cabinets were used. The various paperwork I have on the comings and goings of the museum show that. Rachel corresponded regularly with David. Brian Robson is mentioned to have been very helpful, and at one stage had been working on writing a history of early computing at the ANU. Joe Miles is shown to have donated a Data General Nova. Frank Gibson a BBC micro Model B. Here are some concept photos taken for the ANU museum.
The museum project at the ANU evolved and devolved over a period of 16 years. David wrote that when the funding to employ Rachel ceased. The museum "Initially wasn't too bad, but
when the department ceded the space including the 'backing store'
and dumped a whole lot of stuff in the visible area, making it totally
"The room had two doors and it would have been great if people could
have walked through the room, past a series of displays, but that never
The ANU museum project is finished now, but the project has helped preserve many items. That otherwise would have, more than likely been disregarded. All people involved in the project should be commended. I am sorry that I can not mention everyone who played a part.
EXIDY SORCERER AND EXPANSION UNIT
NEC advanced personal computer
ROCKWELL, EXIDY SORCERER
DIGITAL COMPUTER CARD READER,