When I first came across this article on Cult Of Mac, I couldn’t help but be a little fascinated by this. The Soviet Union is long since gone, but the spirit of Vladimir Lenin is apparently alive and well due to an audiovisual show that’s, believe it or not, still still being operated on a network of Apple II computers at a museum outside of Moscow.
While the carefully guarded and edited story of Vladimir Lenin may be a bit fascinating to museum-goers, the true tale of classic Apple tech can be even more fascinating.
The Lenin Museum in Gorki Leninskiye, which opened in 1987, is a monumental sight with gorgeous display cases, black marble and heroic statues.
The Soviet government, wanting to revive interest in Lenin, began planning the museum in 1972. It would require a modern presentation but the necessary equipment was not exactly easy to find in the USSR.
Museum planners wanted an ES4000 from the British audiovisual company Electrosonic. The company designed accessories and software for multimedia shows that were run on the Apple II.
The museum was prohibited by the Soviet government from trading with foreign companies. Even though there were Apple II clones in the country, such machines wouldn’t quite cut it co with ES4000 hardware.
Five Apple II computers were smuggled into the USSR using a British front for the Soviet Chamber of Commerce.
Each computer runs a story cube, which were originally called “ideologic-emotional centers”, with motors, lights, moving mirrors and ghost projectors to re-create historic moments in the Lenin story.
The maintenance of the equipment is performed by retired staff members who have to come out of retirement every so often to keep the machines running. An upgrade in the museum’s technology is projected sometime 10 or 15 years from now.