Pinterest as a Visual Archive of Computing History

A couple of years ago, a social network based around the photo pinboard concept went online. Known as Pinterest, the site enables users to setup an account and “pin” photos from around the net to their own set of “boards,” setup by the user under categories of their own, personal preference. You’ve probably heard of it.

At first glance, just wandering in, Pinterest seems like a portal to the world of catalog living…and largely it is, I think. It’s mostly filled with fashion, interior design, scenic vistas around the world, cute little animals — that kind of thing. I signed up and started pinning a few photos here and there, and then more or less left it alone.

Some time later, I was examining a set of excellent photos of a rare, vintage computer someone had placed on their website, and I started saving a few of them to the local Pictures folder on my Mac for safe keeping, as was my habit upon finding a truly great photos capturing a piece of computing history. (There just aren’t enough high quality photos of some of these great machines of decades past.) It was then that it dawned on me that I could pin these photos to my Pinterest boards, preserving them for not just myself but others as well, in a public place (in case the original website went offline — Pinterest saves the images locally), while at the same time actively promoting them to followers.

I setup a series of boards to categorize the types of hardware I wanted to save, and thus began my new process of archiving vintage computer photos. It wasn’t long before I realized how valuable a process this is for photosets that are part of eBay auction items. After a few weeks or months, photos for ended auctions are usually gone, and there are so many vintage computer items passing through eBay that some truly excellent photos are popping briefly, only to disappear forever.

Here’s one example, the Acorn Phoebe. And another, a Heath Zenith Z-90. And, here is a Pravetz 8C. Or, how about this rare 80-column display card for the TI-99/4A? Try to click through to the source — all of these images appeared online and then quickly went off into nothingness. But they’re still here in my Pinterest boards, and you’re looking at them. What’s more, the eBay situation has evolved into a new activity that I quite enjoy: scanning eBay specifically in search of a great shot or two to capture every day. It’s an eBay activity that’s a little easier on the wallet than my typical use of the site…

So, Pinterest. Is it going to make an archivist of computing history out of you? I hope you enjoy the photos I’ve pulled together.

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2 Responses to Pinterest as a Visual Archive of Computing History

  1. I miss Silicon Graphics so much. And Atari. I remember watching movies in the 90s, like Jurassic Park, and watching the SGI power show off during the film. And knowing they used those computers to design all the CGI on the film. Was great!

  2. I absolutely agree that Pinterest is fantastic. I am behind in my activity there but what can you do. I wonder about the copyright issue though. Obviously no reasonable person should mind his eBay photos on someone else’s Pinterest board. But still, that’s worth thinking about.

    I agree with Gonzalo. Silicon Graphics was so promising, one of the shining lights in desktop computing in the ’90s. Then they got boring, changed their logo and went with Windows and Intel. Yuck. As Dr. Phil would say, “How’s that workin’ out for you?”.

    Atari has retro chic, but it had nothing on Commodore hardware-wise. ;-) I did and do like the ST platform, though. And I still have never seen a TT030 in real life. Jeff Minter did one of his games especially for the TT to be played on the monochrome monitor (the big one, not the one made for the ST). It was either Llamatron or Revenge of the Mutant Camels – I’m sure someone would know.

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