With the help of computing enthusiasts nation-wide, an Auckland couple is working to create New Zealand’s first dedicated computer museum, using the equity crowd funding website PledgeMe.
Husband and wife team, Mark and Katie Barlow have created a combination of a Charitable Trust to hold and protect the heritage assets, and an equity crowd funded Operations Company to run Techvana, a Museum that will bring together a massive display of computing, gaming, telecommunications and robotics technologies. Along with their own collection of over 1,000 pieces, they have also sourced a vast range of exhibits from fellow computing enthusiasts throughout New Zealand.
“Anyone with an interest in technology will be able to buy shares through PledgeMe with the minimum investment of $100 for two shares,” explains Techvana director Mark Barlow. “We set the entry point as low as possible so anyone can afford to own part of the Museum and get actively involved in making this the best community connected Museum on the planet. This is true Geek rapture. It is a unique place for the IT community to showcase their latest and greatest technology alongside the old technology,” he says.
The museum is set up so that the Charitable Trust will license the heritage assets to the Operations Company and receive a percentage of the revenue that will be used to restore, maintain and expand the collection and run education programmes for schools, the public and other Non Profit groups.
The exhibits are being drawn from a large group of New Zealand's most prolific computer collectors and will range from vacuum tubes from Colossus, the earliest digital computer used in Bletchley Park during WW2 to decrypt the German codes, to Vidplay One, the first New Zealand designed and built Game Console.
Of particular focus is New Zealand developed and manufactured technologies and historical stories - which will be captured and documented by an award winning documentary maker Michael Travis.
"New Zealand is a treasure trove of obscure and early computing developments," says Mark. “It is amazing what has actually been developed by Kiwis!”
He says Museum plans include a café, functions space and meeting rooms with the latest high tech AV equipment. There will also be exhibition space for sponsors to show their new technologies alongside the vintage exhibits.
“It will provide a unique opportunity for companies to show their latest developments alongside the historical technologies that have led to them” says Mark. “We will hold regular events such as retro gaming days, collector restoration evenings, industry parties and guest speakers. We want to build a social space where IT people, gamers and the general public can come and browse, meet, relax and reminisce.”
While a majority of the income is being derived from Corporate Sponsors, public entry to the Museum will be a gold coin donation.
“We already have 7 sponsors on board with many more discussing how they can get involved and provide support,” say Mark.
Mark & Katie’s vision includes expansion beyond Auckland.
“Our goal is to perfect the model in Auckland and then look at opening other locations in other centres and other countries.” says Mark. “We already have strong interest from a major collector in Japan who visited us while we were setting up at the recent Digital Nationz gaming event at Vector Arena. He said would like to open a Techvana in Osaka.”
Mark believes that in an age of rapid high tech developments, the museum will become a "must see" for IT people, tourists, students and the general public.
"To get to where you want to be, it is important to know where you've been," he says.
People wanting to check out the concept Museum can visit Techvana at 105 Cook Street from midday to 5pm every Saturday and Sunday, or by appointment during the week until the end of November.
Anyone interested in investing can go to the PledgeMe site and search for Techvana or use the direct URL www.techvana-invest.co.nz.