The Computer Conservation Society (CCS, www.computerconservationsociety.org), the safekeeper of British traditions in computer history and a key institution in the preservation of several museum piece early computers, turned 25 of age in October. Its volunteers have contributed to the reconstruction or restoration of such legendary machines as the Colossus, the Bombe, the Manchester Baby or EDSAC – all of them being emblematic pieces.
Founded in 1989, CCS started as a joint project between a number of key institutions (British Computer Society, Science Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry of Manchester, etc). The National Museum of Computing has been their most important partner for the past ten years.
In the past 25 years CCS volunteers launched and completed a good number of ambitious initiatives successfully. They have worked out computer conservation standards and models that are internationally accepted today.
Their first full reconstruction was completed in 1998 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Manchester Baby, which is famous for running the first stored programme.
CCS had two projects, the reconstruction of Colossus Mark II and the Bombe, that was implemented in collaboration with Bletchley Park, which was home to British codebreaking in the Second World War and now functions as a museum.
Other CCS projects include the restoration of the Ferranti Pegasus from the 1950s and the ten years older ICT 1301, Flossie, famously known from James Bond movies.
Recent CCS restorations include the Harwell Dekatron (WITCH) and the famous EDSAC from the 1940s.
Sir Neil Cossons, former director of the Science Museum, said that the concept of CCS was completely new in 1989. CCS currently has more than one thousand members and has proved that it was a worthwhile initiative, and such organisations play key roles in the preservation of traditions.
Their success is their evidence.