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Etek Store: Nice collection of old computers

Within Montreal, journalist Louis-Philippe Messier is essentially traveling on the run, his office in his backpack, searching for fascinating subjects and people. He talks to everyone and cares about every walk of life in this urban history.

The free exhibition of computers before the year 2000 testifies to the amazing development of computing.

A 1974 laptop computer weighing 55 pounds, a RadioShack server robot from the 1980s, a replica of the 1976 Apple I and a collection of computers that have long sunk into oblivion await visitors at the Etek store in Saint Laurent.

The owner, Elie Karam, not only sells or repairs computers, but also collects them. And he not only compiles them, he puts them back in working order…even the ones dating back to 1974!

And recently, her collection has become available to visitors.

“All the machines here work, I can turn them on and use them, and it’s not always easy to get them back into shape,” the 46-year-old boasts.

“I started my company in my parents’ basement in 1993 and I could never quite get rid of the old models… Then I wanted to get the other rare models.”

The Etek shop suffers from a rare split personality: the right half is the proper business, which repairs and sells used computers, and the left half is a small private museum where Commodore 64 (1982) and Amiga (1985) sit next to Atari ST (1985) computers and consoles. Intellivision (1979), hard drives from the 1960s and old video game joysticks.

There’s even the 1989 Atari Portfolio, a surprisingly compact handheld for its time, the model that John Connor’s character uses to hack the ATM in Terminator 2.

“I would like to have a PDP-11 for myself from 1970, it would be a great addition to the collection.”

Web 1.0

Take a look at Mr. Karam’s museum website (emusee.org) and you’ll discover a very graphic “Web 1.0” design that evokes the web circa 1992.

“My entire collection is listed on my site, I have over 350 computers and 150 vintage items such as old motherboards, hard drives and 8″ floppy disks.”

Commodore PET 2001 dates back to 1977 and works with audio cassette.

Portrait of Louis Philippe Messier

Commodore PET 2001 dates back to 1977 and works with audio cassette.

The oldest computers on display, such as the Commodore 77 and IBM 5100 and 5110 (which cost $13,000 each), worked with soundbars.

“Every week the bell rang, I opened the door and there was a new box with a new old computer that had to be put somewhere,” recalls Rola, Mr. Karam’s wife, laughing.

A lot of space and effort has gone into this

Portrait of Louis Philippe Messier

A lot of space and effort has gone into this ‘homemade museum’.

“My collection filled several rooms in my house, and I was about to ask friends to host some of my computers or rent storage space, but instead I built a showroom to share with people who are interested… I know a lot of people are interested!”

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Slow business during the pandemic gave him time to make this “homemade museum” a reality with the means at hand.

mr and mr.I Karam paid about $185,000 for the equipment and about $20,000 for furnishing the museum.

A real museum

“It would be really cool if a real museum could put on a big exhibition on the history of computing using my collection,” Mr. Karam dreams.

says m.I Vineyard.

  • Etek shop and online museum: 1055 rue Bégin in Montreal