Just five years after its creation, the Museum of Computing is facing eviction, leading to fears that much of Britain's computing legacy could be forgotten by the next generation of students.
The UK's first dedicated permanent exhibition of historical computing artefacts will be homeless after the University of Bath in Swindon withdraws from its Oakfield campus in July. The museum was founded as a labour of love by IT consultant Simon Webb, and IT solicitor Jeremy Holt, who shared a dream of assembling machines and artefacts to tell the story of Britain's computing heritage.
Creating the collection and finding it a home took them nine years. But in 2003, they found a patron when the University of Bath gave the museum room to house more than 2,000 hardware exhibits - 85 per cent of which still work - 2,500 software items and around 1,500 books, manuals, specialist magazines and sundry items, accurately documents the story of computing in the UK. Many of most significant developments in the computer industry happened in the UK including the invention of the first commercial computer.
"In the UK we don't know our computing heritage. One of the problems the museum has is that people don't know we exist," explained Simon Webb, "even in Swindon. But when people have been to our museum, they've raved about it."
The museum was well reviewed in the Times Educational Supplement and is listed as one of the top 50 museums in Britain.
The Museum of Computing needs to find a new location in Swindon before July. It will need 75m² of exhibition space in a home that can cater for its many visitors and offers disabled access and 100m² of storage space, preferably in adjoining premises.
The museum has provided material for exhibitions for major IT firms in the past. It recently provided samples of 25 years of personal computing, for an Intel processor launch hosted at the Design Museum in London.
Currently only Intel sponsors the museum. "It would be nice if some British companies put some sponsorship behind us," said Webb.