Northeastern University lecturer Mary Hopper thinks she’s found the perfect way to recycle 30-year-old computers: Switch them on, boot them up, and use them to teach a new generation about the history of digital technology.

“You can’t do innovation without an idea of what’s come before,” said Hopper, as she showed off archaic Apple II computers, and laptops loaded with long-obsolete versions of Microsoft Corp.’s Windows operating system. Students entering computer science “have no clue what all this stuff is,” she said.

Hopper’s new venture, Digital Den, aims to provide a hands-on introduction to personal computing history. It’s a remarkable collection of hardware and software, ranging from late-1970s desktop computers to the latest Xbox 360 game console. For now, all the gear is wedged into a cramped storage room in a Cambridge warehouse, but Hopper plans to raise money through the online crowdfunding service Indiegogo to pay for larger quarters and a larger collection of classic machines.