Building a shelf-sized antique computer museum made of paper

Zoom / An example of eight vintage computer paper models designed and assembled by Rocky Bergen.

Yesterday, an artist from Winnipeg, Canada, named Rocky Bergen chest Free collection of vintage paper craft computer models that hobbyists can assemble for fun. It’s available at The Internet Archive in a pack of 24 PDFs that you can print on letter-size paper and fold into three dimensions.

Among Bergen’s Barbie-sized paper business models, you’ll find representations of classic computers originally released during the 1970s and 1980s, such as the Apple II, IBM PC 5150, Commodore 64, Apple Macintosh, and even the Apple Lisa 1. You’ll also find Cardboard models of some classic game consoles such as the Sega Master System and the Nintendo GameCube.

Bergen began creating paperwork prototypes in the summer of 2016, starting with an Amstrad CPC 464 he designed for a CPC fan. “I grew up with the Commodore 64 and have always been a fan of vintage computers and their industrial design,” Bergen told Ars Technica. “I’d like to have a huge set of them, but it’s not always practical for people to have a huge amount of devices with them at all times.”

Vintage 128K Mac Paper Prototype designed by Rocky Bergen, complete with accessories.
Zoom / Vintage 128K Mac Paper Prototype designed by Rocky Bergen, complete with accessories.

To create the models, Bergen collects images of the equipment from the Internet and cuts them into cubes in Adobe Illustrator until he gets a satisfactory result. “I usually keep the serial numbers intact, so it’s possible to check to see if you’ve used your computer,” he says.

Many Bergen paperback templates include additional forms with different software or games on screens that can be swapped out by inserting screen images folded into slots on the units. Many models also include delightful details, such as accessories for the appropriate scale model: drives, mice, floppy disks, software boxes, and even modems.

“The response from the internet has been very encouraging,” Bergen says. “So I’ve made a large number of these models so you can build an entire computer museum.”

Once printed, cut and folded, the forms usually stand only 3 to 4 inches tall, but the scale varies depending on the size of the paper used. Bergen designed the forms for 11 x 17 (A3) paper. At that size, they appear “the size of a typical mini console.” But it can also be automatically scaled down to 8.5 x 11 inch paper, making it roughly “Barbie doll scale.”

Four prototypes of paperwork designed by Rocky Bergen, including a Nintendo AVS prototype.
Zoom / Four prototypes of paperwork designed by Rocky Bergen, including a Nintendo AVS prototype.

Bergen finds assembling models a meditative experience. “I didn’t think I would enjoy the process of cutting and folding, but it’s my favorite part of the process,” he says. “I thought doing this would be stressful, but it turned out to be very relaxing.”

To start building your own paper museum, you will need a color printer, paper, and scissors. Download PDFs from the Internet Archive, print them, cut along the lines, fold the tabs, and insert them into the slots. Bergen says working with thicker paper makes it easier. “The paper folding tool (commonly referred to as the bone clipper) really helps create beautiful edges,” he says. “But any butter knife without serrations will work excellently, too.”

It’s no secret that the prices of older PCs and game consoles have skyrocketed over the past few years, especially during the pandemic. This makes collecting the actual machinery more difficult and expensive than it was a decade ago. Bergen says these factors are always in the back of his mind while designing his paper sculptures.

“I like the idea of ​​removing scarcity or cost from the equation,” he says. For the price of paper and ink, you can enjoy rare vintage machines that could cost thousands (or tens of thousands) of dollars. “The Apple Lisa 1 will only cost you your time, and you may learn something about it as well. I know I did.”

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