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I think it's really amazing to see old computers work. The Computer History Museum has managed to do that with some 50's and 60's era computers-- you can actually see them in action, teletype and everything.

But it's really just a curiosity to have the physical machine literally running. It's merely a nostaghic artifact. We have photos, stories, documentation, and historians writing books and articles. That's what matters-- not the blinky lights even if they're running 70 year old "code" on an emulator or miraculously preserved vintage electronics.

I think programming up an raspberry pi (or whatever) to run a mainframe emulator and hooking it up to old iron panels is something akin to building animatronic dinosaurs. It's great to do for some representative artifacts, but it can be overdone.

Keeping the IBM 1401 running at the computer history museum is fine too. The room even smells great, it's a spectacle for geeks. It's feasible for as long as some old-timers can keep replacing the components that age-out. But at some point it's going to be a better idea to unplug the thing, remove the leaky caps, and keep the dust off it.

It will be interesting what happens to VM's and Containers in the future. Are these things going to be preserved and displayed like a "brain-in-a-jar"? Will people in the future marvel at our convoluted code from 2020, our turgid (but quaint) frameworks. Will our API's be comparable to crazy victorian contraptions?




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