The Festival of Portable Computing (18th & 19th May 2024)

The Festival of Portable Computing (18th & 19th May 2024)
Item Qty To Buy Price
Adult (Saturday) £12.00
Child (Saturday) £8.00
Concession (Saturday) £10.00
Family - one adult (Saturday) £25.00
Family - two adults (Saturday) £32.00
Adult (Sunday) £12.00
Child (Sunday) £8.00
Concession (Sunday) £10.00
Family - one adult (Sunday) £25.00
Family - two adults (Sunday) £32.00
This item is not currently available.

Description :

We're holding a special Retro Computer Festival weekend as part of our Computing on the Move season celebrating the portable computer. Portable computing is ubiquitous now - laptops are everywhere and a modern smartphone can out perform a 70s mainframe. The first commercial portable computer - the IBM 5100 from 1975 - weighed 24kg and still needed to be plugged into the mains. That's heavier than 200 iPhone 5s!

We're inviting collectors and portable computer enthusiasts to come show us their favourite machines, tell us about their history and demonstrate what they're capable of - expect everything from tiny pocket computers to huge luggables, and everything else in between. And of course, we'll be getting some rare and unusual portable machines on display from the museum's own collection!

Watch this space - we'll be updating this page with the news from the exhibitors regularly and tell you more about what you'll see. The exhibits might be small - but the event won't be!

Would you like to exhibit? Drop Tony a line on for more information.


Alex Brown

When it comes to portables, there are few companies more iconic than Psion. From the original Organiser through to the iconic Series 3a and Series 5mx, Psion repeatedly created machines that people loved to use, and now look back on with fondness. In a sidequest-gone-wrong, Alex has spent the past 6 years diving deep into the architecture of these machines, developing new hardware and software, and posting his findings online. He's amassed a sizeable collection of Psion handhelds and laptops, which he'll be bringing to the Portable Computer Festival. He'll also be showing off the PsiDrive, a new USB drive for using Psion SSDs on modern computers.

Tony Jewell  - @herebedragons3

All Tony wanted back in 1982 was to be able to have a computer that let him write games on the long bus journey to school - easier said the done! See the options that would have been available to him at the time - from tiny Sharp pocket computers to battery powered Newbrains. Plus a whole bunch of other unique and exotic portables from his collection - and maybe even a portable Dragon!

John Brown - Retrobytes (@BytesRetro)

"When I was told we where doing a portable version of retrofest, I thought excellent my back will like this one (and Pete will look less in pain). Then I remembered in the 80s portable meant, it has a handle. So I'll be bring portables big and small, and yes I will be using a different meaning of portable for unix this time."

John Newcombe - @GlassTTY

John will bringing a selection of mainstream handheld and portable computers with an emphasis on early modems and communications. Come and log on remotely to a PDP11 with everything from a Psion II to a Amstrad PPC or book a holiday and check your stocks and shares with an Apple IIc. If that's a little too business like for you, why not dial in to a remote mini computer and play Colossal Cave Adventure.

Steven Usher

Transportable. Luggable. Laptop? The development of mobile business computers.

Dave Williams - @Devilish_Design

Amber screens are the best screens! I'll be exhibiting a sellection of portables from the late 80s that have amber coloured displays. CRTs and gas plasmas are in, batteries are most definitely out.

Adrian Graham - Binary Dinosaurs

Redefining the modern world of portable, these machines are bigger than your Mum's sewing machine and you definitely wouldn't want them on your lap

Andy Collins

Andy first got interested in portables and hand-held computers when a friend showed him the first  Apple Newton Message Pad. As soon as it was obsolete and cheap enough, he bought one (It's not retro computing if it's not obsolete). He bought a couple more, then the rugged education version, the eMate and some other machines and before he knew it, there was all sorts of portable machines in various boxes, waiting to see the light of day and in May, that day will arrive!

Spaces for these exciting hands-on events are limited, so booking is required to ensure your place.

Payment is taken by PayPal immediately. Please print a copy of the receipt that is displayed at the end of the payment process and bring it with you as your e-ticket.

We are still maintaining some Covid precautions to protect our staff & visitors.
Hand sanitisers are available throughout the museum. Please wash
your hands regularly when using the machines.

Remember - All proceeds go to support our Computing Museum!


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