In agriculture, we have the doomsday seed vault  just for this purpose. If we anticipate collapse of the current economic system or society, I think we should build a doomsday computer vault, that keeps everything we need to rebuild the computing industry in a underground bunker. It keeps everything we need in a controlled environment, such as 8080, Z80, m68k, motherboards, logic chips, I/O controllers, ROM/RAM, generic electronic parts, soldering irons, oscilloscopes, logic analyzers, schematics, documentation, textbooks, software. We also keep some complete, standalone computer systems such as desktops and laptops, and all the parts that need to service them. We also need to preserve the old semiconductor production lines around the world, although probably not in the same bunker. Even if we fail to build better systems, 8080s are already useful enough!
Meanwhile in peace time, we need to form a team of experts that makes a roadmap to rebootstrap the computing technology for the future using parts from the bunker, with a step-by-step plan, that can be easily followed and executed.
Indeed. It takes a civilisation to build an iPhone.
I don't think people appreciate that even within the highest-tech manufacturing industries there is a lot of tacit knowledge. People shake their fists about "technology transfer" to China, and before that Japan; but that's taken decades for them to reach parity. And that's with running, copyable examples and all the parts of an existing supply chain widely available. Similarly the process for making a nuclear bomb can be written in a short paper, but few countries have successfully replicated it.
"Post-collapse recovery" and "technology transfer" are the same problem, except that post-collapse recovery is cribbing from a dead example rather than a live one and in much worse circumstances.
Collapse recovery is a fun little competence fantasy to play out in your own head. Like "the rapture" for atheists. But within our lifetimes, we have to put in the work to avoid the collapse.
The point here is that we don't need to build an iPhone, we only need a radio. Building a 8080 is much simpler, the USSR did it, the East Germany did it, China did it, all around the same time without too much difficulty. It's certainly would be much more difficult if the current civilization collapsed, but I think the author doesn't anticipate a total collapse, just a breakdown of the current economic system, thus it should be doable.
> Similarly the process for making a nuclear bomb can be written in a short paper, but few countries have successfully replicated it.
My understanding is that the physics of achieving the nuclear explosion itself is relatively straightforward. The real difficulties are to produce the weapon-grade materials needed, and to transform the explosion to an useful weapon, all under external sanctions, and even sabotage.
Taiwan had a nuclear weapon project in 1970s, significant progress was made in the beginning, if the U.S. didn't discover it and dismantle everything, it would be interesting to see how it turned out to be.
As the author themselves admits, this requires a very narrow band of Goldilocks catastrophe. Not catastrophic enough that you still have electricity, but catastrophic enough that all the plants on this list are destroyed or rendered unusable or embargoed from you? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_semiconductor_fabricat...
How is that going to work exactly?
No, it's a fantasy disaster, like Day of the Triffids and all the other John Wyndham style "cozy catastrophe" novels.
Real catastrophe is slow and grinding. Think "decline and fall of the Roman Empire" - a multi-lifetime process. Or something like Venezuela, where crumbling power infrastructure took out their aluminium smelter. This causes it to freeze solid and is unrecoverable without rebuilding the crucibles.
All the fabs on your list are fairly modern, and it is easy to see how they would be impossible to maintain in a Tainter-style collapse.
I would be looking into what you can do with ~1 um processes, which are currently accessible to amateurs. E.g. designs like https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11720289
Not sure about the Soviet Union, but East Germany had to "import" complete production lines from Western Germany in order to bootstrap their chip production. Of course the West prohibited exporting such sensible technology to the East, and there's some wild stories around involving the secret service, setting up a proxy chip manufacturing company in Western Germany, shutting this down, and "losing" the production lines, which showed up a few months later in East Germany.
But there will be plenty of Z80 and other 8-bit chips to scavenge after a civilizational collapse, and those chips are simple and slow enough to be used in computers built from breadboards and wires.
Some of the stories of how Western machinery was procured is mentioned from time to time in articles like this one:
It seems to have been less "broad sweep style" than I mentioned above though, more like that new products required specialized machines which were only produced by a handful Western manufacturers, and which were under the CoCom embargo. And the "grey-importing" of those machines went through various shadow companies in different countries to cover everything up.
"The vault managers are now taking precautions, including major work to waterproof the 100m-long tunnel into the mountain and digging trenches into the mountainside to channel meltwater and rain away. They have also removed electrical equipment from the tunnel that produced some heat and installed pumps in the vault itself in case of a future flood."
Sorry to ruin this for you, but it is already too late. We are already in the process of damage control.
"it's too late" is a dangerous statement because it suggests actions no longer matter. And if no action is taken, several climate models project >4 °C average warming. The majority of the planet will be become uninhabitable at the current human density levels, with billions of people having to relocate and/or die.
Like build dikes around low lying areas rather than trying to coordinate a worldwide slowdown of economic activity which faces the worst outcome of prisoner's dilemma.
This website got posted to HN in the past, definitely something that should be part of the attempt.
Especially that the people who will restart from a Z80 will face technological edges when their skills and needs grow.
We faced the same in the 80's: going from 8 bit to 16, then 32, having memory addressing problems, being pushed to new and hardly compatible architectures, having programs to rewrite...
Then why not leaving behind us a technology, still simple, but that will save them most of these issues?
I feel an 8-bit data bus and 32-bit address bus would be a good way to make long-live programs, edge-free when extending memories, and still not so complex processors and main boards. The address bus does not need to be fully wired in the first processor versions, so it can scale over time with more complex processors when skills and needs grow.
Besides, it would be smart to leave in a vault a kind of FPGA technology with sources to flash the FPGA components. So no need to create a production line for many different integrated components: only one output, and the components are specialized by flashing them.
Indeed even microprocessors can be flashed on an FPGA.
Well, just ideas...
Low tech CPU to support 32 bit code:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motorola_68008 (8 lines data bus, 20 lines of address bus, 32 bit programs, 70 000 transistors)
Microprocessor on an FPGA:
While the focus is on the data, it also necessarily involves access to original hardware at times, which is additionally also often stored for curatorial purposes in its own right.
What you need is a super-deep immortal vault that isn't anywhere near any known fault lines, and who's ingress point is sufficiently above ground, and can be accessed safely if under water, and supplies its own electricity for thousands of years.
Everything outside of the facility will have to be electrically neural up to extreme voltages (due to the possibility of plasma storms arising that make the worst thunderstorms on Earth look like a nice day outside).
I kid, but the more secure a vault is the more irretrievable it is, which only makes it useful to aliens, not us.
The unanimous response was "not much". Mostly anomalously concentrated resources. So... if they are right, even though we have no reason to believe there was a developed civilization before us, it's not that crazy to merely entertain the possibility.
Not to imply those were from unnatural processes, more to indicate that basic spacefaring technology implies ability to detect such: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_concentration_(astronomy)
Controlled descent is not necessary if they are built to last.
I disagree. If humanity collapses, and a new fledgling civilisation grows out of the ashes, then maybe we should let them follow their own path, and make their own discoveries and mistakes.
It's massive hubris to assume that future generations can only survive if they have access to our knowledge.
Many civilisations have fallen only to be replaced by newer betters ones, even when they've had no previous records to refer to.
We're just a stepping stone along the path of human evolution, we are no greater or lesser than the stones before us, or the stones that come after us.
A collapse would be the perfect and likely sole opportunity to ditch the mistakes of the past and forge something completely new with the benefit of a "foresight" forged from hindsight.
It reminds me an 80's cartoon where Spanish, aliens and 3 children run after a golden city and destroy it out of greed when they find it.