Why the Real Thing Is Essential for Telling Our Stories

  • David Demant
Conference paper
Part of the IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology book series (IFIPAICT, volume 325)


Museum Victoria possesses the only intact first generation electronic stored program computer left in the world. Real things, like CSIRAC, are entry portals to a past era. Along with contemporary documents and records, they are the closest we can get to time travel. They complement historical records. Historical records are not substitutes for the real thing, neither are replicas or facsimiles. We use real objects in combination with historical and contemporary knowledge to develop our understanding of the past. The presentation answers the question implied by the title ‘Why the real thing is essential for telling our stories’ in two ways. First, it discusses what we and future generations gain by conserving and interpreting the real thing on an on-going basis. Second, it gives examples from the museological work done with CSIRAC and its archive.


first-generation stored-program electronic computer software CSIRAC objects real-thing facsimiles replicas museum archive 


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Copyright information

© IFIP 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Demant
    • 1
  1. 1.Senior Curator Information and Communication, Museum VictoriaMelbourneAustralia

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