Front control panel for the PDP 11/70

Askaris has been a supporter of the National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park since mid-2017 where Askaris’ Technical Director Sean Allison has been involved in restoring an iconic computer system called Scrapbook from the 1970s and 1980s. A third weekend was just spent at the museum by Sean and his brother Ray to continue with the critical restoration work to secure and preserve the data which was last accessed over 30 years ago.

A major worry since this project started was the ability to restore one of the disk drives and successfully load a disk pack without causing any damage. These old disk drives are susceptible to head crashes which would completely destroy any data stored on the disk. Even something as small as a particle of smoke can cause irreversible damage so cleanliness was critical.

DEC RM03 67Mb disk drive based on the CDC 9762

Although we haven’t yet even touched the original Scrapbook disks yet, we successfully loaded a disk pack onto the DEC RM03 disk drive (67Mb!) and we were able to make the heads seek to different parts of the disk without any damage. Although some considerable time remains in the restoration process, this is a major step forward en route to being able to reconstruct a working Scrapbook system

The preservation of iconic computer systems is especially poignant, as today, the same museum launches a crowdfunding campaign to bring Alan Turing’s Bombe into Block H at Bletchley Park – its original home during World War 2. The Bombe was famous for cracking the German Enigma code. You can find more information on this campaign here

#TNMOC #BletchleyPark @tnmoc