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Subject: Storage of computer hardware

Storage of computer hardware

From: Walter Henry <whenry>
Date: Friday, March 12, 1999
We are beginning to develop significant collections of computer
hardware. Spanning a period covering the early history of
microcomputing, these collections include a broad range of
materials:  complete computer systems; peripherals such as monitors,
printers, keyboards, mice, disk and tape drives; game machines and
controllers; circuit boards, chips; as well as printed material and
software on a variety of media. We are looking for suggestions
concerning the long-term storage of these materials. Right now,
we've a very limited budget, so I'm in need of suggestions for doing
this on the cheap, but for the long haul, I'm also very interested
in optimal solutions, independent of cost.

Part of what makes this material interesting is that, while we can
say pretty clearly why it is important to our collection--it
represents important developments, both historical, technological,
economic, and social--of the late twentieth century--it is far more
difficult to predict the ways in which these machines will be used
(or not used) by scholars. For the moment, I don't expect that the
machines will see much actual "use" beyond exhibition and scholarly
examination (as opposed to folks actually sitting down and running
them). However, this could change.

We've done some digging in AATA, and have talked to quite a few
people offline, but have not coming up with much. In many ways,
these things look like other collections of modern industrial
artifacts, with some added complications (e.g. needing to protect
the materials from static electricity and magnetic fields), but as a
library conservator, I'm not well versed in that literature, and am
probably missing some key resources that will be familiar to many of

In addition to any general guidance you might offer, I'm
particularly interested in the following:

    *   Would anoxic strategies make sense, and if so what cautions
        should we be alert to? Suggestions for appropriate barrier
        films and scavengers will be appreciated.

    *   Can we safely use antistatic foams, films, and "peanuts"?
        and if so what precautions should we take?

    *   Storage of batteries. We will, of course, remove batteries
        from the devices for storage. I suspect that some of the
        batteries will be non-standard or obsolete.

If I receive sufficient response to this query, I'll write up a
summary document and make it available in CoOL.

                  Conservation DistList Instance 12:73
                  Distributed: Friday, March 12, 1999
                       Message Id: cdl-12-73-005
Received on Friday, 12 March, 1999

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