TRS-80 Model 100 and some white flowers on a pink background

Founded in 2009 by Dr. Lori Emerson, the Media Archaeology Lab is a place for cross-disciplinary, experimental research, teaching, and creative practice using one of the largest collections in the world of still-functioning obsolete media. Researchers, students, teachers, artists and members of the public are encouraged to turn on, open up, play and create with items from the collection that include phonograph players; magic lanterns; historic personal computers, handheld devices and game consoles including the Altair 8800b, Commodore 64, Apple IIe, Vectrex, and Imagination Machine I and II created by African-American video game pioneer Ed Smith.

The MAL is utterly unique not only because it is an open, accessible space for anyone to come and perform hands-on experiments with its extensive collection but also because it demonstrates alternative paths in the history of technology and empowers visitors to imagine an alternative present and future.

The MAL has also evolved into a real life and virtual community enterprise; it has an international advisory board of scholars, archivists, and entrepreneurs; faculty fellows from departments across the CU Boulder campus; and a regularly rotating cohort of students and community volunteers who help with hardware repair, class tours and guest visits to the lab. The lab hosts reading groups, artist residencies, events, retro game nights, and workshops on how to fix your old or new devices and even on how to build your own mesh network.

In short, the MAL is a community-driven hub for preserving and exploring the history of technology. Follow us on Mastodon, Instagram, Bluesky and Twitch!

Summer Hours: Monday 1-4 PM Tuesday 1:30-4:30 PM Thursday 12-3 PM Friday 1-4 PM, 10-4 PM every other week

  • HEY we're gonna try out a weekly twitch lunch, noon on Mondays (for now!) - we'll keep the channel open through our open house hours on Mondays (for now!) and see how it goes!

  • This month we’re reading Christina Dunbar-Hester’s Low Power to the People: Pirates, Protest, and Politics in FM Radio Activism. We invite you all to share your thoughts as you read along here or on Mastodon/Instagram/Bluesky!


    An examination of how activists combine political advocacy and technical practice in their promotion of the emancipatory potential of local low-power FM radio.

    The United States ushered in a new era of small-scale broadcasting in 2000 when it began issuing low-power FM (LPFM) licenses for noncommercial radio stations around the country. Over the next decade, several hundred of these newly created low-wattage stations took to the airwaves. In Low Power to the People, Christina Dunbar-Hester describes the practices of an activist organization focused on LPFM during this era. Despite its origins as a pirate broadcasting collective, the group eventually shifted toward building and expanding regulatory access to new, licensed stations. These radio activists consciously cast radio as an alternative to digital utopianism, promoting an understanding of electronic media that emphasizes the local community rather than a global audience of Internet users.

    Dunbar-Hester focuses on how these radio activists impute emancipatory politics to the “old” medium of radio technology by promoting the idea that “microradio” broadcasting holds the potential to empower ordinary people at the local community level. The group’s methods combine political advocacy with a rare commitment to hands-on technical work with radio hardware, although the activists’ hands-on, inclusive ethos was hampered by persistent issues of race, class, and gender.

    Dunbar-Hester’s study of activism around an “old” medium offers broader lessons about how political beliefs are expressed through engagement with specific technologies. It also offers insight into contemporary issues in media policy that is particularly timely as the FCC issues a new round of LPFM licenses.

  • Our practitioner-in-residence Shanice Martin will be presenting her work "Aesthetics of Access: Analyzing and Reimagining the Forms and Functions of Subtitles and the Technology Used for US Television and Public Access Shows"

    When: WE ARE RESCHEDULING THIS EVENT! If you would like to be placed on the contact list for when we have a new date and time, please RSVP to!

    Where: Media Archaeology Lab Zoom