There are collectors. Then there is Lonnie Mimms.
Mimms, who supports his addiction to all things high-tech through his family’s real estate business, has loved computers since he was a kid in the 1970s, when simple home computers existed only in the realm of nerds and subscribers to Popular Mechanics. He started collecting stuff early.
“I never got rid of anything,” Mimms said. “I just kept it.’
It occurred to him that the unnaturally fast life cycle of computers was a couple of years, meaning those first Apple computers he bought years ago were “antique” in no time at all. He owns two of the 40 or so Apple I computers that still exist.
“That was the first computer that Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs manufactured in their garage,” he said.
Mimms will display rare Apple paraphernalia for a 6,000-square-foot pop-up museum April 20 and 21 in Roswell. The Vintage Computer Festival Southeast is being sponsored by the Computer Museum of America and the Atlanta Historical Computing Society. The weekend event will have retro gaming stations, a workshop, vendors, and consignment and book sales.
Mimms and David Greelish, a tech blogger and writer, hope to generate enough interest to open a local technical center that will give a place for seminars, learning and networking.
Greelish likes to point out that Mimms’ collection of Apple computer equipment is one of the larger ones known in the U.S.
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History has about 130 objects relating to Apple in its collections, including advertising, software and user manuals, but no Apple I. And 130 items certainly won’t fill out the 6,000-square-foot display featuring products from McIntoshes to iPhone 5s.
And exactly how big is Mimms’ garage to hold all that stuff — bought new, scavenged from garage sales and acquired on eBay — when not on display. Well, he says, he had to build two 3,000-square-foot buildings on his Roswell property to store his treasures.
And what does Mrs. Mimms think of the collection?
“Well, she feels pretty good they are not in the house,” he said. “Without her nothing would have happened.”
Vintage Computer Festival Southeast, April 20-21, tickets $10, with a two-day pass for $15. Children ages 17 and younger free when accompanied by a parent or guardian. Free parking. Kings Market Shopping Center, in the former CompUSA building, 1425 Market Blvd., No. 200, Roswell. Information at http://atlhcs.org/.