Deutsches Museum Bonn – Retro Gaming!

Deutsches Museum Bonn is a branch of the one in Munich and located in Bonn’s science centre. Last weekend it featured a special exhibition: retro games!

This was my first time to the museum, even though I’ve often been to Bonn. Deutsches Museum is not part of the complex that forms Bonn’s “Museumsmeile”. It’s part science museum and part science centre, so there are various hands-on experiments. A kitchen can be booked for school classes or birthdays. Kids will experiment with common household items there.

Retro Games

Retro games are well within the scope of the museum which concentrates on technology after 1945. Last weekend it welcomed the travelling museum “Haus der Computerspiele” (Home of the computer games) for just two days. “Haus der Computerspiele” is a project by René Meyer who has a collection of 25000 items – 10000 games and 1000 video game consoles/computers.

The event was a mix between mainstream and less popular systems. Nintendo 64, Super Nintendo, NES, Mega Drive, PS1 and PS2 are well-known. Most of the games seemed to be the ones that are easy to learn. This is important – young kids may not know the games, and their parents might’ve forgotten how to play them.

Atari 2600jr.
The VCS (here the redesigned “jr.” model) was a massive success
Vectrex controllers
The Vectrex was an innovative console with built-in screen and analog controls
Retro Games collage: Nintendo 64, Robotron computer, calculator

Exotic systems

This is also necessary to “sell” the more exotic ones. The first one was the first Xbox with the giant “Steel Battalion” controller. This controller was only ever supported by two games and would take more than a weekend to get used to it.

Far less intimidating was vtech’s V.Smile. Vtech was once one of many home computer manufacturers, but left because of tight competition. They instead concentrated on edutainment consoles such as the V.Smile.

Classic Xbox with Steel Battalion controller
Intimidating!
vtech v.smile at Deutsches Museum Bonn
Less intimidating

I’ve got two favourite systems of this exhibition. The first one is the Amstrad PCW, known in Germany as the Schneider Joyce. This was supposed to be a replacement for the typewriter. However, it was so successful, that British developers started to publish games for this system!

The next one was entirely due to the decoration. I like it when computer museums put some extra effort and place other items of that era around the computer. In this case, a Commodore 64 was surrounded by movie posters, VHS tapes, books and album covers.

Amstrad PCW/Schneider Joyce
The Amstrad PCW/Schneider Joyce (1985) were sold in millions to European offices until cheap PC clones took over
Sharp MZ-80A at Deutsches Museum Bonn
Sharp MZ-80A – a beautiful all-in-one design

Deutsches Museum Bonn: Transrapid

Transrapid train in front of Deutsches Museum Bonn
Transrapid 06

The most impressive permanent exhibit is outside and free: the Transrapid 06. The German magnetic levitation train Transrapid was tested for decades but all plans to utilise the technology in Germany were abandoned.

Japan is currently building a maglev connection between Tokyo and Nagoya (different technology), China is planning one. There’s also the Hyperloop of course. Will a Hyperloop track be built in Germany? I doubt it. Among the things Transrapid was criticised for was incompatibility with existing tracks. This applies to Hyperloop as well.

Future

Deutsches Museum Bonn will change in the future as it aims to be an information center on AI (Artificial Intelligence). A few exhibits were already there, like a robot hand or a virtual dog trainer (learning algorithm). Also present but sadly no longer active, is the Rhino robot, a friendly museum guide robot. I used a robot guide at the computer museum in Paderborn.

old museum robot
robot legs

Deutsches Museum Bonn: Location + more info

Event website (German)
https://www.deutsches-museum.de/bonn/programm/veranstaltung/retro-spiele-festival

Location
Ahrstraße 45
53175 Bonn

Tram lines 16 or 63 from Bonn central station to Hochkreuz/Deutsches Museum Bonn

Opening hours
Tuesday-Friday 10am-5pm
Saturday 12 noon-5pm
Saturday/public holidays 10am-5pm

Sony Hit Bit computer
Sony’s Hit Bit computers are a favourite among fans of the MSX system
Amstrad CPC with green screen
Amstrad and its distribution partners offered the CPC with either a green or colour display

Mia Jaap

Journalist, developer and passionate about Japanese and Korean language. Loves to travel in Japan, but is open to explore the major and lesser known sights of Germany.

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