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Design

#computers#dioramas#Miniatua#miniature#sculpture

Miniatua Puts the Micro in Microchip in a Series of Remarkably Precise Miniature Computers

June 14, 2023

Kate Mothes

A miniature IBM 5150 computer.

IBM 5150. All images © Miniatua, shared with permission

“I think it’s important to understand our roots, where the technology we use came from, and I believe these machines and the people who made them should be celebrated,” says Nicolas Temese, a.k.a. Miniatua. By day, the Montréal-based artist works as a technical director at an animation studio, and in his spare time, he tends to the exacting details of minuscule, vintage hard drives, floppy disks, and keyboards.

Temese has been fascinated by computers and science since childhood. “The first computer I ever played with was an 8-bit Atari 800XL,” he says, sharing that during the last ten years, his interest in engineering of early technology grew. He spends hours poring over manuals and documentation of retro models, fascinated by the inner workings and intent on being able to recreate every detail as faithfully as possible. “IBM had incredible, clean industrial design back then, with great aesthetic that still look amazing to this day,” he says.

Ranging from 1:10 to 1:16 scale, Temese’s editions are fashioned from polystyrene sheets that he delicately cuts and shapes before gluing and sanding the components and adding a coat of paint. For softer accessories like cushions, he uses polymer clay. “I recently started using resin printing to add details on some of my miniatures, but I have a few projects that I make entirely by hand,” he says. “Depending on the project or deadline it can take me a few months. The longest project I worked on was eight months.”

A miniature IBM 704 computer.

IBM 704

Many of Temese’s iterations are based on actual models that hit the market in the second half of the 20th century, from room-sized data processors like the IMB 704 to game-changing desktop versions like the IBM 5150. Introduced on August 12, 1981, the 5150 was the first widely available personal model, marking a paradigm shift in computing, business, and society as a whole. He also pays a lot of attention to lighting and documentation, mimicking the style of photography used in advertising during each machine’s respective era.

Temese recently embarked on his first fictional examples, creating a model of the WOPR, or War Operations Plan Response, from WarGames. The 1983 film follows the exploits of a high school-aged character named David Lightman, played by a young Matthew Broderick, who inadvertently hacks into a military central computer, thinking he has accessed a game, only to find himself enmeshed in escalating tensions between nations headed to a seemingly inevitable World War III.

“The WOPR was a challenge because of the electronics mostly,” Temese says. “I changed my approach a few time while building it, and the design of the electronics had to change a few times.” Recently, he created a scale model of David’s bedroom, where a phone, coding books, and other electronics complete with illuminated details flank a boxy setup.

Learn more about each piece and find many more images on Miniatua’s website and Instagram.

Detail of a miniature IBM 704 computer.

Detail of IBM 704

A miniature IBM 5150 computer.

IBM 5150

A miniature IBM 704 computer.

IBM 704 Vanguard

A miniature IBM 1401 computer.

IBM 1401

A scale model of David Lightman's bedroom from the film 'WarGames.'

David’s Room from ‘WarGames’

A scale model of David Lightman's bedroom from the film 'WarGames.'

Detail of David’s Room from ‘WarGames’

The fictional military central computer called WOPR from the film 'WarGames.'

‘WarGames’ WOPR

The fictional military central computer called WOPR from the film 'WarGames.'

Detail of ‘WarGames’ WOPR

A miniature model HP 264X computer held in the palm of a hand.

HP 264X

A miniature model HP 264X computer on a cutting mat.

HP 264X

#computers#dioramas#Miniatua#miniature#sculpture

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