retroTECH is a Georgia Tech Library program in which the campus community can create the future by exploring the past. With the emerging retroTECH Lab as a home base, students, faculty, staff, alumni, researchers, and community partners engage in hands-on research, DIY peer-to-peer digital archiving, experiential learning, and outreach around the evolution of technology.
The Pilot Lab opened in the Price Gilbert Library in August 2015. A team of archivists, librarians, and campus community partners are prototyping services and programs to be implemented in the retroTECH Lab in the renewed Library building around 2018.
The vision for the retroTECH Lab entails a highly curated combination of classic, vintage hardware and software and modern tools for digital archiving and emulation, all designed to be accessed and used. retroTECH aims to inspire a cultural mindset that emphasizes the importance of personal archives, open access to digital heritage, and long-term thinking.
Contact the retroTECH Team about:
Academic research or course-integrated projects on hardware and software engineering, media archaeology, user experience design, electronic literature, emulation, history of technology and society, digital archives, evolution of game creation, emerging software development, etc.
The GT community is full of experts in various aspects of technology who are eager to share and teach. retroTECH aims to serve as a platform for users, retroTECH Team members, and expert partners to conduct peer-to-peer, DIY digital archiving, working together to recover, access, emulate, and preserve materials needed for research, personal archiving, or donating to the Archives. In other words, to bring archiving to the people...and the people to the archive.
retroTECH aims to engage the Georgia Tech campus community through events and workshops about the history and future of technology, held in the Lab, elsewhere on campus, and in the Atlanta area. If you’re interested in getting involved in retroTECH programming, attending events and workshops, volunteering, or sharing your expertise, the retroTECH Team would love to talk with you.
A key component of the Pilot Lab agenda is to establish a retroTECH Collection Development Policy to guide the curation of our modest collection of functioning hardware and software. If you’re interested in donating hardware, software, or digital collections, lending items from your collection for temporary display, or if you have ideas for items we might collect in order to support academic research, please get in touch.
132 students in six sections of English 1102 in spring 2015 used the retroTECH workstations to complete a hands-on, small group assignment as part of their course, Narrative in Videogames, taught by Marion L. Brittain Postdoctoral Fellows, Dr. Josh Hussey and Dr. J. Stephen Addcox.
Learn more about the project
75 students in three sections of Marion L. Brittain Postdoctoral Fellow, Eric Rettberg’s Fall 2015 English 1101 class visited the retroTECH Lab to explore how the user experience of hardware and software have changed over the last two decades.
View the assignment
The Georgia Tech Archives acquired our seed collection of four workstations from Georgia Tech alum and former faculty member Dr. Jason Ellis, who inspired the idea for retroTECH. Jason set up the workstations with the hardware and software he needed to facilitate his own research on hypertext and electronic literature.
A fifth vintage workstation, an Apple Mac LCII (1992), donated by former Georgia Tech administrator and faculty member Dr. Donna Llewellyn, is currently in development.
retroTECH currently has a small collection of software and operating systems from the 1990s and early 2000s, ranging from Microsoft Word Version 5.0 (1991) to Novell WordPerfect 3.1 (1994), and from Apple’s Project X (1996) to its early speech recognition technology, Speakable Items (1993). A few selections of games from various genres:
(currently in development)
Arcade Cabinet: Marion L. Brittain Postdoctoral Fellows, Dr. Josh Hussey and Dr. J. Stephen Addcox built a custom arcade cabinet for retroTECH, to support academic research and course-integrated projects related to the history and user experience of arcade games.
Emulation Workstation: this modern workstation will include software required to emulate various vintage or contemporary software and computing environments.
(currently in development)
Digital Archiving Workstation: this modern workstation will include hardware and software to support recovery, access, and preservation of personal or academic born-digital materials, and will enable users of the Lab to conduct digital archiving activities for research or for donation to the Georgia Tech Archives.
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to learn about upcoming events and share ideas with the retroTECH community.