The event showcased the tech we grew up on, with thousands of beautifully preserved machines on display. Sir Clive’s ZX Spectrums and BBC Micros headed up the Brit contingent. And our wartime allies in the US were represented by the likes of the Commodore 64 and the VIC-20.
Keeping the DIY spirit of the early 1980s alive were some enterprising hackers who’d modded a dusty Spectrum to run Twitter. And matching them for wit was Andrew Spencer of the Retro Computer Museum who squeezed some pretty impressive sonics out of his VIC-20.
Present and correct too were early Factory records signings and electro pioneers O.M.D, as well as exponents of the Chiptune scene, who fetishise the bleeps and bloops of the earliest electronic kit.
Unfortunately, while the 2,000 super fans who made it to the festival prove that there’s a market for these events, the permanent computing museum at the site is far from flush with cash. That’s because, despite its importance as an archive it’s run entirely without government funding.
We know that we’ve living in a time of austerity. And today’s Budget promises to put the squeeze on some frontline services that are way more essential than a museum for computers. But given the niche interests that have had lottery cash sprayed their way over the years, the nation’s failure to preserve our tech heritage seems even more retrogressive than the festival itself.