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Re: [midatlanticretro] RCS-RI visit

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  • Evan Koblentz
    ... Well, that s not quite accurate. They started as one group and split into two: a museum group (RICM) and a restoration group (RCS). Both groups are fairly
    Message 1 of 7 , Jul 6 4:32 PM
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      >> The smallest state in the nation and they have 2 of the biggest museums on the east coast ?!

      Well, that's not quite accurate.

      They started as one group and split into two: a museum group (RICM) and a restoration group (RCS). Both groups are fairly small, member-wise, with many of the same people in them. So they're two groups in name, but they are not fully distinct.

      Also, "big" and "museum" are subjective terms in this case. That's not a dig at either group, just an observation.

      For example, RICM has a warehouse as large or bigger than ours, but they have very little presentable display space. RCS has a warehouse about 1/4 the size of ours and no presentable display space.

      So neither group quite meets our traditional definition of "museum".

      That being said, we can definitely learn from both groups. I will discuss some things off-list with the MARCH board about that. For example both groups do better at large-system restoration than we have so far.

      But in terms of being a public and traditional museum -- focusing on nice displays and outreach -- and also in terms of people involved (especially younger guys) and comprehensiveness (especially in small systems), MARCH is much bigger and developmentally ahead of our northeastern cousins.
    • William Donzelli
      ... RCS/RI (Retrocomputing Society of Rhode Island, Inc. aka RCS) and RICM (Rhode Island Computer Museum), sprang up independently in Rhode Island back in the
      Message 2 of 7 , Jul 7 10:09 AM
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        > Interesting, I had thought one of the two had become defunct and the other
        > took over.
        > The smallest state in the nation and they have 2 of the biggest museums on
        > the east coast ?!

        RCS/RI (Retrocomputing Society of Rhode Island, Inc. aka RCS) and RICM
        (Rhode Island Computer Museum), sprang up independently in Rhode
        Island back in the mid 1990s. Back in 1994, Mike Umbricht, John
        Teehan, and Dave Fischer (the guy that coined the Eternal September
        thing) formed a very informal group in Providence, RI. Shortly
        thereafter Carl Friend joined, followed by myself. Then, in 1998 RCS
        incorporated and became a real organization. Initially we were located
        in a mill on Eagle St., but had to move in the mid-2000s (I forget the
        exact date) to our current millspace in Atlantic Mills, only a mile or
        so away.

        I am not as clear about the formation of RICM, but it sprang up about
        the same time, and as Mike posted, originally had space in a very old
        mill to the south of Providence. Initially, the group had a weird side
        interest in British racing cars, and a number of members were more
        racing car enthusiasts than computer junkies - and this is why there
        was an early interest in British microcomputers at RICM, which
        continues to this day. RICM incorporated, I believe, about the same
        time RCS did, but went the whole 501c3 route.

        RICM and RCS have always been completely independent groups, but we
        are on very friendly terms, with a couple of members somewhat active
        in both. We have done rescues together, and have swapped machines in
        the past.

        RCS started as a general computing history group, and initially was
        interested in all aspects of computing. We had grand designs for a
        real museum early on. However, it became apparent quickly that our
        voracious appetite for gathering new machines and artifacts was
        getting out of control. There was no collection policy, so our space
        at Eagle St. filled completely up. At some point we were given fair
        warning that the building was going to be sold and we would have to
        move, so the members decided to implement a collection policy and
        enforce it. In the new space, only machines relating to science,
        engineering, and higher education were going to be collected and kept.
        During the move, we shed quite a lot of equipment and documentation.
        Much went to RICM, collectors, and so forth, but much of the more
        useless stuff was scrapped. Now, in our current space in Atlantic
        Mills, we adhere to our policy with a strict focus on what aspects of
        computer history we want to explore - this is why you will see no
        microcomputers at RCS, nor are there any business minis or mainframes.
        We are, once again, pushing the limits of our space, so we have to be
        very careful about what we can accept. One the plus side, for out
        monthly open houses (every 3rd Saturday of the month - we have been
        having these almost without break for nearly 14 years, holidays too!),
        we setup a work area outside our space in an extremely expansive
        hallway for the day. We simply pop up a table or two, run some cords
        out, a wheel whatever machine we are working on out into position. It
        pays to keep our internal hallways clear.

        RCS made a lot of mistakes in our past. Some of these mistakes have
        caused us problems, and have prevented us from moving in certain
        directions. We clearly did not live up to our grands plans.

        MARCH could learn a great deal for our experience, as well as that of
        RICM, but chooses not to. For years, I have tried to convince MARCH
        that it needs to get its appetite under control with a strict
        collection policy, otherwise it *will* run into exactly the same
        problem RCS and RICM has - an out of control ever-growing pile of
        artifacts that impedes progress and sucks away time, money, morale,
        and manpower. Organization becomes difficult, artifact inventory
        becomes impossible, morale suffers as work sessions turn into
        shlepping sessions, and the inevitable move to another location
        becomes a major undertaking. RCS and RICM, and a million other little
        independent tech history museums, have all suffered through all this.
        We could have avoided most of it with a little discipline and focus,
        but that is all history now. We can warn other, younger museums of
        these pitfalls that *will* be there - but it is up to them to do
        anything about it. Remember that the history of museums is full of sad
        stories, with new stories written every month.

        Today, RCS remains, as does RICM. We have settled down into a little
        niche, continue to have our open houses (find us on Facebook!), slowly
        get machines up and running, and generally have a good time. At this
        point we are stable, and have no plans to go away any time soon. I
        invite you all to come.

        --
        Will
      • Dan Roganti
        ... With a good track record like this, there s ought to be no hesitation in seeking addt l funding to add some incremental improvements - using any of the
        Message 3 of 7 , Jul 7 10:27 AM
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          On Sun, Jul 7, 2013 at 1:09 PM, William Donzelli <wdonzelli@...> wrote:
          > Interesting, I had thought one of the two had become defunct and the other
          > took over.
          > The smallest state in the nation and they have 2 of the biggest museums on
          > the east coast ?!

          RCS/RI (Retrocomputing Society of Rhode Island, Inc. aka RCS) and RICM
          (Rhode Island Computer Museum), sprang up independently in Rhode
          Island back in the mid 1990s. 


          With a good track record like this, there's ought to be no hesitation in seeking addt'l funding to add some incremental improvements  - using any of the new crowd sourcing approaches these days. I see small and large museums take advantage of this already.
          eg, KickStarter, Indegogo, FundAnything, 

          Dan

        • Dan Roganti
          ... update, back home on Long Island, there s an old Tesla s Laboratory, known as the Wardenclyffe Tower - just recently the effort has been underway into
          Message 4 of 7 , Jul 7 10:33 AM
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            On Sun, Jul 7, 2013 at 1:27 PM, Dan Roganti <ragooman@...> wrote:


            On Sun, Jul 7, 2013 at 1:09 PM, William Donzelli <wdonzelli@...> wrote:
            > Interesting, I had thought one of the two had become defunct and the other
            > took over.
            > The smallest state in the nation and they have 2 of the biggest museums on
            > the east coast ?!

            RCS/RI (Retrocomputing Society of Rhode Island, Inc. aka RCS) and RICM
            (Rhode Island Computer Museum), sprang up independently in Rhode
            Island back in the mid 1990s. 


            With a good track record like this, there's ought to be no hesitation in seeking addt'l funding to add some incremental improvements  - using any of the new crowd sourcing approaches these days. I see small and large museums take advantage of this already.
            eg, KickStarter, Indegogo, FundAnything, 

            Dan



            update, 
            back home on Long Island, there's an old Tesla's Laboratory, known as the Wardenclyffe Tower - just recently the effort has been underway into turning this into a museum.
            They just raised $1,370,461 on Indiegogo

            Dan

          • Evan Koblentz
            ... We are, and will, now that I ve seen both RI groups first-hand. ... You need to come see our newly neat-and-clean organized warehouse.
            Message 5 of 7 , Jul 7 10:49 AM
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              >> MARCH could learn a great deal for our experience, as well as that of RICM, but chooses not to.

              We are, and will, now that I've seen both RI groups first-hand.

              >> Organization becomes difficult

              You need to come see our newly neat-and-clean organized warehouse.
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