Everyone needs to learn about the history of IT development in their city and the world, and museums play a crucial role in that. Almost every Canadian city has a computer museum, and Saskatchewan is no exception. Here, you can find the unique Saskatchewan Computer Museum, where early examples of the first computers can be explored. They aim to provide the next generation with a gift from the past. Read more on edmonton-future.
The primary goal of this institution is to preserve, interpret, and celebrate the history of computers on behalf of the university community. The museum’s founders often face questions regarding the necessity of having a museum at the university. The answer is simple – the university possesses a special environment with a rich history and innovative use of information technology.
Establishment of the Computer Science Department at the University
In July 1968, the University of Saskatchewan established the Department of Computer Science. This department has come a long way, continuously evolving and innovating. Initially, it was a university department reporting directly to the president. In 1980, organizational changes took place, integrating it into the College of Engineering. Since the early 1990s, the department’s research activities have grown significantly.
History of the Museum
The project for this unique museum was initiated at the end of 2001. It all began unexpectedly during a dinner at the faculty club when friends Rick Bunt, Merlin Hansen, and Robert Gross were seated at the same table. They met and decided to discuss the establishment of the first museum at the Saskatchewan Institute.
The museum officially opened its doors to visitors in 2002, with Robert Gross becoming its first superintendent. During the initial years, the collection of equipment, software, and other artifacts began. In 2004, the museum was invited to participate in a technology history exhibit on the main floor of the Murray Library. At that time, the most significant artifacts in the institution were the BM XT 5150 computer and an old IBM ThinkPad laptop, designed by a student from a local engineering college. These pieces of equipment were the museum’s pride.
By 2005, the museum had witnessed active development, and it became evident that more space was needed to accommodate the growing collection of exhibits. As a result, several additional classrooms were allocated for the museum.
The collection housed in the museum is diverse, encompassing a wide range of classic computer and communication devices, including various media, desktops, laptops and more.
Among the most valuable possessions are:
- The Altair 8800, was the first personal computer for the mass market.
- The DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation) paper tape reader and recorder.
- Apple Lisa, Apple’s initial attempt at a personal computer for business.
- Two servers operated the university’s first phone-based registration system called U-Star.
- In 2011, a PDP-8L and PDP-11 were acquired from an off-campus donor, who had previously purchased a lot of equipment from UofS Surplus Assets.
- The DEC PDP-8 mini-computer has been used in the physics department practically since the institution’s inception.
The Saskatchewan Computer Museum possesses unique pieces of old equipment. The founders mention that currently, the museum does not offer tours to the general public; only students have the opportunity to view the old equipment. However, there may be plans for guided tours in the future when the museum is relocated to a different space.