The GSPK Design team headed over York way to visit The Jim Austin Computer Collection. The magnificent collection of computers was a truly memorable trip and one the team will truly cherish for many years to come.
After a hearty lunch, Jack, Jim, Joseph, Tom, and Chris made their way to the little village of Fridaythorpe where they were greeted by Jim Austin, a Computer Science Professor at the University of York and owner of Cybula Ltd. Housed in over 8000 sq ft of buildings the computer ‘sheds’ include thousands of computers as well as many other artifacts including books, calculators, computer mice, video games, cameras, radios, valves… and much more!
The collection was officially started in 1986 but this has really been a lifelong passion that Jim was born with. His in-depth knowledge of computers was fascinating and the stories he told the team during the three-hour tour were riveting. Each piece of computing memorabilia has a story to tell and Jim has been fortunate enough over the years to build up a network of people to happily donate him items. He is also actively involved in auctions both offline and online through sites like eBay and continues to grow his collection every day.
The first shed was a nostalgic trip back in time for Electronic Design Manager, Jim Needham. With thousands of computers stacked to the rafters (quite literally), this was a great opportunity to see computers of days gone by and how they transformed through the ages.
Heading into the second half of the shed, and the team stepped back in time once again but this time surrounded by radios, cameras, valves and more. Neatly placed on shelves this impressive radio collection features some iconic radios from military sets dating back to World War 1 right up to modern day sets. Jim is also a keen camera collector, hundreds of lenses and camera bodies are housed in this part of the shed and any self-confessed camera nerd will certainly be in their element.
Onto the second shed, named ‘PS3’ and the team got a chance to see mid-range computers as well as an ever growing video games collection! From some of the earliest Apple computers to a work in progress Fighter jet Simulator, this part of the collection was a treasure trove of computers.
The third and final shed (PS4) housed some of the collections finest supercomputers. Included in this section was a huge IBM mainframe as well as ten Cray supercomputers. These massive machines have huge amounts of history and were used in some of the biggest businesses and Universities in the world to compute huge amounts of data.
The GSPK Design team would like to express their huge thanks and gratitude to Jim Austin and the whole team behind the computer collection. If you are interested in getting involved the bi-weekly shedders days you can contact Jim via his website here: http://www.computermuseum.org.uk/