Alan Gilchrist’s Commodore Home Computer Museum NZ Documentary


don’t forget to check out my other
videos they’re all about Commodore computers both new and old there’s
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also to my 700 subscribers I currently have you guys totally Rock. As you know
my goal is to make the new Commodore Computer museum here in New Zealand this
video is about the old Commodore Computer museum here in New Zealand ,
Dunedin made by Alan Gilchrist hopefully you enjoy this a little bit of time warp
into checking out his museum his website and also what he did for retro and
vintage computing here in New Zealand and finally if you do like the content
I’m making, if you like the videos I’m making, & if you like this channel please also check out my Patreon page as well your support is greatly appreciated.
Alan Gilchrist created the Commodore Home Computer Museum in New Zealand about 1999 and continued until 2011 but before we get to the museum
let’s look at what Alan did beforehand Alan’s journey with Commodore started
as Television Services Hawera as an Authorized Commodore Service Center this was operated from 20 Vogel street in Hawera, a small country town in New
Zealand and this business was operated out of Alan’s garage servicing and
repairing Commodore computers and other electronic devices. The service became so popular there was a need for greater premises there was a need for a retail
outlet in Hawera Alan also promoted and sold Commodore
computers at local trade shows like the A&P show at the stage he was
still trading as Television Services Hawera but a change would soon happen to
become a fully fledged retail store and with the new name Computer Concepts. This
all happened in 1988 in October where he opened up a store in 92 Princes Street
in Hawera. The name of the business changed to Computer Concepts on 1st of
April 1989 and a new Commodore Service Center Certificate was issued the 1st of
August 1989 this now meant there was a fully fledged Commodore Computer store
in Hawera and this proved to be very successful to the point they had to now
move to larger premises just one year later and on 14th of August 1989 they
moved across the road to 91 Princes Street
this meant more Commodore computers more Commdore software could fit into
this new store. This new store proved to be a real teenage male magnet with boys
checking out the new software new products daily in the store and farmers
would come into the store to buy their Commodore Computer systems for
their farms with big huge wads of $10 notes. Because concept computers also
had the Commodore Education contract they managed to sell Commodore computers
to most of the schools in the region. The business continued to flourish & Jeanne,
Alan’s wife became the shop assistant Alan also had an employee Lance who
helped him with servicing and selling of Commodore computers to the public. At
this stage Commodore Computers New Zealand Limited which was an agency
looked after all of New Zealand for Commodore Computers they had a
reputation of looking after their staff and one example is that when they had
their first one million dollar turnover in a single month the management put up
a free return trip to Hawaii and for every $10,000 they got over
that the staff were given an additional ticket… that month nine staff and their
spouses went to Hawaii! It does really show how they looked after both
staff and also their dealers this is because they were a privately owned
business by three entrepreneurs Dick Andersen Mike Cooch and Bruce Taylor but I’ll mentioned more about Commodore Computers New Zealand Limited and my
upcoming documentary. Why am I mentioning all this? It’s because the same
generosity was extended to dealers as well. This store in Hawera, Computer Concepts was a very small store but their sales were really strong so Commodore
Computers New Zealand Limited shouted both Alan and Jeanne all expenses paid
trip to Brisbane to the World Expo in 1988. But unfortunately Alan’s health
began to deteriorate and in July the 6th 1990 Alan sold the business to his
employee Lance MacLachlan and they made the move to Dunedin. By this time Alan
had sold Commodore Computers mainly Amigas to most of the schools in the
region Alan also started Watertower Software a subsidiary of Concept
Computers making educational software for preschools and schools and in a
local newspaper The Star December 12 1989 said this about Alan “thousands of
New Zealand schoolchildren are taking their first steps in education and
learning basic computer work thanks to the ingenuity of a Hawera company
Computer Concepts”, no one can deny the influence that Alan had on computing
in New Zealand in the 80s and the 90s he didn’t stop there
with the move to Dunedin he wasn’t able to open up a new Commodore store because
there was too many Commodore dealers there already, but he did retain his
Commodore Computers Service Center status. He set up a workshop and began to
do warranty and out of warranty Commodore work for Eclipse Radio, Dick
Smith and Shand Computers even Commodore in Auckland sent all their faulty
Commodore monitors to be repaired A Commodore agent in Christchurch would
send Alan their Amiga 2000 power supplies the fault with these was always
a single resistor they went in high value and stopped the power supply from
starting up. Alan said this was good money just for a few minutes work and
they they never did ask what the problem was and he said I never told them, why
would I? So true. Alan continued to trade until January the 17th 1994 where he had to
cease because of health issues. By this stage Commodore international had gone
to receivership and Commodore New Zealand had to follow suit even though
it was still profitable so Alan went on to the sickness benefit and officially
retired. Retirement worked out well for Alan because now he had time on his hands and
he decided to collect Commodore computers. He was able to get quite a few
Commodore computers for free from Garage Sales (Yard Sales) and he was able to save a lot of
Commodore computers from going to the rubbish dump. After about 12 months of
collecting he had a really good collection so he purchase benches and
shelves to set them up and his garage to display his collection and the Commodore
Home Computer Museum New Zealand was born. In Alan’s notes he pointed out that
this was not his complete collection that was on display even so the
collection ranged from the PETs right up to the CD-32s.
Admission was free because Alan just wanted to share his passion for Commodore
computers with the public a visitor book was set up and hundreds
of people over the lifespan of the museum visited. One such person wrote
this to me “I visited the museum with my dad when I was a teenager there was a
whole lot of computers packed on a pretty standard Versatile
Garage it inspired me and basically started my vintage collecting of today”. The
blue Commodore rally jacket and also the Amiga Sweatshirt you see there
hanging up was recently donated to me by Jeanne for the future
Commodore Computer Museum you can watch that unboxing video and the link in the
description below What I love about Allan’s story is that
he started his Commodore career in a garage and he ends it also in a garage
as well with this beautiful museum Alan’s goal was to preserve the history
of Commodore Computers in New Zealand. I think he did a great job at it.
Underneath the curtains that you see at the bottom of the shelves was more
Commodore computers packed to the brim Can you name all the Commodore computers
you can see over the next couple pictures? One of those items of course is
the Commodore SX-64 this was donated to him by the Christchurch Commodore
User Group that became defunct. And of course all of the Commodore computers on
display worked as well. Because of Alan’s health Alan finished museum in 2011 and
sold it for what we believe for about $4,000 to some lucky collector. With Alan’s passing
it ends a chapter and Commodore history in New Zealand a chapter that spanned from
1986 to 2011 from starting in the garage has a Commodore Service Agent to
having a dealership becoming a service agent again in Dunedin and opening the
museum and running the museum for so many years. We really do appreciate Alan’s
contribution to preserving Commodore history in New Zealand. and now we’ll look at the website that
Allen created for the Commodore computer museum around about 2001 and this is how
it looked in 2011 before it’s closed down
what I’ll do is I’ll scroll for each of the pages that Alan had so you can see
what content was on the website and as I scroll I’ll leave you there and thank
you for watching this very important part of New Zealand’s Commodore computer
history until next time ciao

5 thoughts on “Alan Gilchrist’s Commodore Home Computer Museum NZ Documentary

  1. A lovely video!! Very interesting to hear about Alans experience and the Commodore presence in New Zealand!

  2. Thanks Justin for your efforts towards resurrecting the Computer museum and your enlightening history of the commodore computer in New Zealand.
    That was stuff I knew nothing about back then while i was enjoying my commodore 64.😊

  3. Something else that's worth noting and definitely worth thanking Alan for is the NZ Vintage Collectors list. It exists to this day, now maintained by Terry Stewart, at https://www.classic-computers.org.nz/collectors/

  4. Excellent, I love hearing these stories of specific people who were part of the Commodore legacy. There's so many of them around the world at risk of being forgotten, good on you for helping preserve the history.

    (As an aside, I briefly wondered if you somehow had Australian cricketer Adam Gilchrist's Commodore computer – it's likely he had one, being born in 1971!)

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