I started this little blog back in March of 2004, about a year after my wife and I moved into our current home in Alexandria, Virginia. The main requirement we held onto when looking for a larger home those years ago was: adequate room for a kid. There was a secondary requirement, but one that was more a concern of my own than of my wife’s: an office area with room for…more than just a few machines. I started collecting vintage computers, you see, and I quickly came to find it to be quite a rewarding (and addicting) pastime.
Happily, we found the right house with the just the right bedroom setup for a child…and just the right basement space for a geek dad bent on reliving the good ole’ days of home computing. It took a little work to get things in order, though.
But, in the end, it all came together. Well, “the end” is probably not the right phrase, actually. Since getting the computer room (which I affectionately call the “Byte Cellar” for obvious reasons) all setup, I’ve been on a constant “add a desk, add a system, rearrange things, swap out a system, repair a failure, clutter clutter, tidy tidy — repeat” routine. It keeps the collection running, changing, and interesting, I think.
A big part of the fun of it all is sharing my setups and projects with others by way of blog posts, lots of photos, and the occasional video. It’s part pride in getting these systems up and running all nice and tidy, certainly, but more to perhaps inspire other like-minded individuals to spend some time with these wonderful machines from a time when computing was just a lot more experimentation and downright fun.
I’ve got a pretty sizable Flickr gallery online that shows most of the systems in my collection in great detail. In addition to this, I’ve created a few full-room photo panoramas of the Byte Cellar, stitching together a series of shots as I rotate a camera about the room. I posted the first one in 2005 and a second in 2008, both taken with my Apple QuickTake 200 camera and stitched together using Apple’s QuickTime VR Studio 1.0 under MacOS 9. The main goal was to generate QuickTime VR panning videos [ direct links: bytecellar_400.mov (2005) and comp_room_07.mov (2007) ], but the software outputs stitched panorama images, as well. (I keep a gallery of most of my QuickTime 200 photos on Flickr.)
Things have changed so notably in the past few years that I’ve just made my third panorama, this time taken with a Nikon D90 DSLR and stitched together in Photoshop under OS X, and placed it online. Please have a look!
I hope someone sees this latest glimpse into my retro computing insanity and goes out and grabs an Apple II. Or, maybe a TI-99. A CoCo 3 would work, as well, I think.
UPDATE: Wow, it seems my latest panorama has made Lifehacker! Gee, now I wish I’d tidied things up a bit more before the shoot!
UPDATE: And now I’ve been featured on Engadget!
UPDATE: Updated “The List” and added additional labels to the close-up panorama image.
UPDATE: Featured in Retro Gamer magazine’s Collector’s Corner. What an honour! (It’s a UK-based magazine, so…)
( Latest update: October 29, 2021 )