Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's tech museum shut down with vintage computing collection slated for auction

Living Computers Museum + Labs
Image of the Living Computers Museum + Labs in Seattle (Image credit: Wikipedia)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen's estate recently indicated it's closing the Living Computers Museum + Labs in Seattle permanently.
  • The estate will auction the rare computing technology and interactive displays, including a DEC PDP-10: KI-10 built in 1971.
  • Proceeds from the auction exercise will be channeled to charitable causes.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen helped Living Computers Museum + Labs in Seattle, Washington, over a decade ago. Unfortunately, Allen passed away in 2018, and his estate has decided to close the museum. 

For context, the museum served as a home and exhibition for unique computing technology and interactive displays, including a Decsystem 2020 mainframe, an Altair microcomputer, and a first-generation Raspberry Pi. Following Allen's estate to close the museum, its website and social media accounts have already been taken down. 

As part of the estate's briefing, most of the rare items in the museum will be auctioned to interested parties by Christie's auction company. The auction is themed as "a celebration of first-generation technologies and the pioneering minds behind them." All proceeds from the auction will be channeled to charity.

Over 150 items will be on sale across three separate auctions. The first auction, Firsts: The History of Computing, will run online through September 12, 2024. Interestingly, the auction will feature a computer that Paul Allen and Bill Gates used before co-founding Microsoft, a DEC PDP-10: KI-10 built in 1971. The device is expected to fetch anything between $30,000 and $50,000.

The news isn't surprising, as the museum has remained closed since 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, though two employees maintained and ensured the devices kept running (via GeekWire).

Enthusiasts who sold and donated some of the items to the museum have raised concerns about them being auctioned off and lost with the permanent closure of Living Computers Museum + Labs. Other items from the museum slated for auction are part of Allen's estate and will be revealed soon.

Kevin Okemwa

Kevin Okemwa is a seasoned tech journalist based in Nairobi, Kenya with lots of experience covering the latest trends and developments in the industry at Windows Central. With a passion for innovation and a keen eye for detail, he has written for leading publications such as OnMSFT, MakeUseOf, and Windows Report, providing insightful analysis and breaking news on everything revolving around the Microsoft ecosystem. You'll also catch him occasionally contributing at iMore about Apple and AI. While AFK and not busy following the ever-emerging trends in tech, you can find him exploring the world or listening to music.

  • TechFreak1
    🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️🤦‍♂️ What a tragic loss. Microsoft could have easily made a 'charitable donation' to keep the museum running and that would have easiest PR they could have bought.