Computer museum: testing the exhibits

When I came back from Cornwall I returned with my old Atari ST and Sinclair QL, ZX Spectrum and ZX81.

Over the last few days I’ve been trying them out to see how time and Cornwall’s wet climate had affected the machines. The ZX81 I couldn’t test as it doesn’t have a plug on it but the other machines worked to a greater of lesser degree.

The Spectrum works as long as you don’t want to type much. Some of the silver paint tracks on the ribbon cables on the keyboard have corroded to the point where they’re no longer working. The machine must have been in a really damp atmosphere in my parents’ loft as the screws on the Spectrum+ keyboard upgrade have gone rusty. It is amazing that other than the keyboard it looks to be fully functional.

The ST Works fine, though quite a bit of the software I came back with is faulty with the floppy discs failing.

The QL along with its Trump Card expansion card work perfectly. No problem with the keyboard or the microdrives.

I do wonder how well the ZX81 works. I haven’t got the 16K rampack at the moment but even so, if it does work then that’s a 24 year old computer. OK, not quite as old as the Research Machines 380Z I have in the loft, as that’s from 1978, but not bad.. nearly half way back to the beginning of computing.

I wonder how much of today’s PC hardware will be able survive in working order as long.

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