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See The place where 1980s computers still rule

<6 .25=""> Living Computers Totally 80s courtesy Living Computer (2)

  • Living Computers Totally 80s Rewind Courtesy Living Computers (3)
  • Living Computers Totally 80s Rewind Courtesy Living Computers (2)
  • Living Computers Totally 80s Rewind Courtesy Living Computers (6)
  • Living Computers Totally 80s Rewind Courtesy Living Computers (12)
  • Living Computers Totally 80s Rewind Courtesy Living Computers (1)


  • Technology with a twist














    Living Computers Totally 80s Rewind Courtesy Living Computers (1)

    Visitors can play real life arcade games at the museum.
    Courtesy Living Computers: Museum + Labs
    "The museum was open to the public in 2012 -- and the idea of the place is that it's based on a simple philosophy that, if you want to understand computers and computing history, then you should probably use them," says Alcorn.
    It has a modern tech and VR section, but the focus is on the vintage technology from microcomputers to mainframe and mini computers.

    Living Computers Totally 80s Rewind Courtesy Living Computers (2)

    Every detail is designed to evoke the world of an '80s teenager.
    Courtesy Living Computers: Museum + Labs
    No detail is spared in the Totally 80s Rewind exhibit.
    The classroom has a retro linoleum floor and there's even gum stuck under the desks. The computers have been carefully restored to ensure they're as usable today as they would've been back when Ferris Bueller was skipping school.
    In the video games arcade all the machines are free but visitors still must drop tokens into the slot, as if they were coins, for the full experience.

    The exhibition fits in with the current interest in 1980s pop culture.

    The exhibition fits in with the current interest in 1980s pop culture.
    Courtesy Living Computers: Museum + Labs
    The 1980s theme is timely, says Alcorn.
    "At the moment we're just at this kind of cultural moment, right now, where there's an appreciation and almost a nostalgia for everything from the 1980s," reflects Alcorn -- citing "Stranger Things" and the book-turned-recent-movie "Ready Player One."
    In the friends' basement display, visitors can play with original Nintendo and Atari consoles or listen to records from the era.
    "This would be some place where a teenager or a family would hang out and enjoy," says Alcorn. "The experience is just to be able to go in there and just use the room."


    Intergenerational appeal


    Living Computers Totally 80s Rewind Courtesy Living Computers (4)

    The museum has an intergenerational appeal.
    Courtesy Living Computers: Museum + Labs
    When the museum first opened its doors, Alcorn says it mostly attracted what he and his colleagues affectionately term "graying geeks."
    "As we've expanded, we have attracted more families with children. So we get a lot of inter-generational audiences that come through," he says.

    The classroom set up will be familiar to those who grew up in the 1980s.

    The classroom set up will be familiar to those who grew up in the 1980s.
    Courtesy Living Computers: Museum + Labs
    Teenagers love the novelty, parents love the nostalgia -- it's a winning combination.
    Alcorn and his team are thrilled its a hit, although the international attention has taken them by surprise, even if it wasn't without precedent.
    "Whenever we did a preview of the exhibit for members of the museum they came in the evening and some members left the exhibit misty eyed because they had an opportunity to share with their children what their childhood was like," recalls Alcorn. "I had never seen a response like that to an exhibit."


    Seattle staple


    Living Computers Totally 80s Rewind Courtesy Living Computers (6)

    The museum is located in the Seattle.
    Courtesy Living Computers: Museum + Labs
    As well as the '80s memorabilia, the museum has many other usable technology from the early days of computers.
    Among them is an IBM 1790 mainframe computer, a model that was featured in the book and the film "Hidden Figures" about pioneering African-American women at NASA.

    Living Computers Totally 80s Rewind Courtesy Living Computers (3)

    The exhibit's popularity means it's likely to extend into 2019.
    Courtesy Living Computers: Museum + Labs
    The Totally '80s Rewind exhibition was scheduled to close in December 2018, but Alcorn says it'll probably remain open into 2019.
    "I think we're going to have to extend it," says Alcorn. "I mean the downside is we'll just be able to keep bring more joy."

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