We are the members of 3 different organizations: the Freaknet Medialab, the first italian organization to offer free access to email and internet, since 1994; Dyne.org, free software foundry and international network of Hackers since year 2000; Poetry Hacklab, a free software lab in Palazzolo Acreide, a small town 40km from Syracuse, famous for his natural heritage and his famous ancient Greek theatre. Artists, researchers, scientists and even simple amateurs all cooperate with us. Our activities are recognized all around the world and we are proud of being supported by UNESCO and the Free Software Foundation.
We decided to bring to life one of the projects we’re working on during 10 years of research and archiving: a Museum of working computers, a place where people can, both physically and remotely via Internet, enjoy using historical computers, know their history, learn basics of electronic and computer science, and share a piece of our history. A place where to conserve, repair, preserve in digital format and share our heritage, made of hardware but also documentation, software, electrical schemes, books, manuals and media of various kind.
What we have done so far
We have gathered, during all these years, a massive amount of almost 2000 historical pieces (some of them dated even back to the ’40). Most of them have been repaired thanks to our effort and are now perfectly working, while other are still waiting to being brought to life. This work made of research and experimentation need a physical space which we never had; local institutions never put their willing to support us pratically…. it’s been years now since we started looking for a place in which to open our museum: the challenge is to offer a cultural alternative in a Southern Europe area where, unfortunately, the only solution for a professional and personal grow has always been to emigrate out of the country.
What we want to do
A traditional museum show fossilized historical pieces, petrified, preserved behind glass cases, static, silent witnesses of the past; visitors pass nearby, look around and go away.
Our idea of Museum is different: the world of Computer Science is now an integral part of our every day life, so we think the opportunity to touch, try the historic computer, turn it on, load the software and play with them is fundamental for education and training.
The imperative of Hackers around the world has always been “Hands On!”. And thanks to this attitude, typical of children who love to disassemble their toys to see what they look like inside, first computers were created by people like Konrad Zuse, Piergiorgio Perotto, Lee Felsenstein, Ed Roberts, Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs; they would not have never created the first computer in history if they had not followed the natural attitude of human being: curiosity!
The computers in our exhibition are all working and usable; some more ‘delicate and complex are usable under the supervision of our engineers. On request we can provide a suitable and particular setup for special needs: just ask!
Exibithion and restorations are preparatory for some of our training courses, on a variety of topics: basic electronics, computer science, restoration, data recovery …
The vision of this kind of museum has been motivating us for years, making us pioneers in the now emerging area of computer museums: they are popping up all around the world, finally acquiring attention and help of both private institutions and single supporters; having visited some of them, we found out that the uniqueness of the pieces we have, together with the software we produced in the past and our own history, could bring our “Museo dell’Informatica Funzionante” (Museum of Working Computers) in Italy an excellence in his field. In fact, in the recent past we were able to attract the attention of national and international media and to welcome in Palazzolo Acreide experts from all around Europe, people which we were happy to offer access to some of the computers, even in small and inadequate spaces. Tired of waiting for help, we now decided to maximize our efforts, pick some money from our pockets and rent an adequate space to finally realize our project.