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Cambridge's Centre for Computing History calls on tech industry for vital support




The Centre for Computing History is appealing for help from the tech sector – whose history it preserves – and the video game industry to help offset losses of £23,000 a month in the “impossibly difficult days” while it is closed.

The computer museum, which moved to Cambridge in 2013, is mostly self-sustaining and generates core funding from visitors, events, exhibitions and an education programme for schools.

Jason Fitzpatrick, left, in an education session at the Centre for Computing History. Picture: Centre for Computing History (34397021)
Jason Fitzpatrick, left, in an education session at the Centre for Computing History. Picture: Centre for Computing History (34397021)

But founder Jason Fitzpatrick says the losses are unsustainable for a small charity and “it will be very difficult to reopen the museum” unless it finds funding.

He said: “We have 10 people who work here, over 100 volunteers and there’s a big community around the museum. But now we don’t have any visitors or events, we don’t have any schools visiting and we are losing £23,000 a month.”

He is turning to the business community for help: “Cambridge has been responsible for creating some amazing companies. The Centre for Computing History is the UK’s only accredited museum to preserve the hardware, software and cultural stories that give context to the collection. We aim to be a shining beacon where people can come and see that history.

“We have occasionally asked the tech industry to help to make what the museum offers better, but never to sustain it. Sadly, due to the coronavirus, the museum needs the tech sector, whose history it preserves, to help support it through these impossibly difficult days. We are appealing to the video game industry too. The museum is the UK’s leading organisation for video game preservation, with a vast unparalleled collection.”

He added: “We understand that we’re all in the same boat – everybody is worried about whether they will get paid or if they’ll have a job.

“The public have already been extremely supportive with over £9,000 donated through Just Giving, and charity events and auctions to raise funds. We are hopeful companies will help us through this too.”

Staff and volunteers at Centre for Computing History. Picture: Centre for Computing History (34397014)
Staff and volunteers at Centre for Computing History. Picture: Centre for Computing History (34397014)

A retro gaming streamathon at the weekend (May 8-10) organised by Lunar Loony raised £3,000, and this added to the £1,840 raised in an earlier streamathon organised by Retro Respawn.

And Gareth Marlow, the museum's chair of trustees, has issued an appeal to the Silicon Fen tech companies for their assistance by buying a sponsorship package.

Meanwhile, the online shop is selling items including social distancing T-shirts and there are free learning resources on the website

And you can take a novel museum tour created by Katrina, the design & communications officer, with help from collections officer Adrian. With time on their hands during lockdown, they have faithfully replicated the museum in the Animal Crossing simulation video game complete with the main gallery, archive, classroom, cache store, Megaprocessor, LEO exhibition and T-shirts, which you can get by scanning QR codes. There are also side-by-side comparisons with the real exhibits.

For more information about the museum and how you can help, visit computinghistory.org.uk.



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