We had some good leads this week for help with the NeXT which I thought I would share here briefly in response to a number of "what's happening?" queries we are getting.
We want to do a couple of things with the NeXT:
- take steps to ensure the ongoing good health of the original NeXT;
- set up a clone that we can use for a couple of the objectives we are working on;
- get an image of the hard drive that we can preserve separately, and possible distribute.
Today we met with Cédric Gaudin, who is a member of the Association aBCM, a group of computer preservation enthusiasts who meet at the EPFL in Lausanne, very close to CERN. Robert Cailliau had got in touch with them back in 2009 and they came to CERN to give the original web server a health check under his supervision.
Cédric arrived with a flash drive full of images of this health-check process - I'll upload these next week to the CERN document server so that everyone can see them.
Cédric Gaudin shown in 2009 with the original web server, cloning the hard drive (Image: Association aBCM)
Cédric also brought with him a connector that aBCM had hacked together that would allow us to connect the NeXT to a regular VGA output. This will be seeing much use in future…
The Association aBCM are going to help us to assess the feasibility of getting a NeXT that we have identified at CERN as a possible candidate for being the clone that we can use. We discussed the possibility of hooking up a terminal to our NeXT clone - something like a VT100 that would allow us to really live the line-mode browser experience!
I also had a Skype call with Jim Boulton, 'digital archeologist'. We shared a few ideas and identified a few areas where he could help us. Jim sets up exhibitions where people can have hands-on experience with old machines, browsers and content, including a NeXT. If you're in London towards the end of this month try and see his show, which will be part of Digital Shoreditch.
Jim put us in touch with Rob Blessin, a NeXT enthusiast who I'm sure is going to be able to help us out with getting our clone up and running.
So: lots of leads. Thank you so much to everyone who is getting in touch with offers of help and ideas. We still haven't had time to respond personally to many of you - we're trying!
Dan Noyes on