Why we conserve older computer systems

The National Museum of Computing conserves and restores computers, software and documentation in order to preserve the heritage of Britain's contribution to world computing. Getting historic computers to work again is often complex and challenging. Do some of the early forms of storage still work? Do they need backing up? What do holes punched in tape mean?

There is a distinction between conservation and restoration. The aim of conservation is to preserve historic computers by retarding or preventing deterioration. The aim of restoration is to return historic machines to working order and keep them operational so that we can better understand the systems and not lose knowledge and understanding of the past. Through this we can better appreciate how technology has got to where it is today and perhaps use the past to inform the future.