Image of Tech Model Railroad Club Tech Model Railroad Club
Tech Model Railroad Club, 1946–Present

Tech Nickel Plate, Locomotive and Rolling Stock

Tech Model Railroad Club


The history of model railroading parallels that of MIT, although the first student group, the Tech Model Railroad Club (TMRC), was not established until 1946. TMRC moved into the famous old Radiation Lab structure, Building 20, a year later and began constructing its first layout. Realism mattered and club members became fanatical in the design, fabrication, and operation of their quarter-scale world. Electrical Engineering Professor Carlton Tucker was the faculty advisor who helped supply the club with sophisticated electronics. During peak membership years in the 1950s and 1960s, many TMRC members became interested in computers. Thanks to Tucker and Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), club members began experimenting with such pioneering computers as the TX-0, PDP-1, and PDP-11. The group members became legends and were featured in Steven Levy’s paean, Hackers—Heroes of the Computer Revolution. Today, the TMRC is considered by some to be the birthplace of hacker culture. The trains can still be seen at TMRC’s spring and fall Open House events.

Loaned to the MIT Museum by the MIT Tech Model Railroad Club.

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