Content matters at the Computer History Museum

Posted: September 26, 2012 in content creation, creating communities, Creating context, Silicon Valley
Tags: , , , , ,
Calculator

 

Must say I enjoy my volunteer hours at the Computer History Museum.  The place never fails to fascinate, no matter what your level of interest may be in history or computers.  In terms of the latter, all I can say is that it’s all there — from Abacus to Zuse (as in “Konrad”, one of the several reported fathers of the computer), from the founding of IBM to the advent of Google street view.  And it’s still wowing crowds since its Mountain View doors opened to the public in 2003. Which is testament to the richness of the exhibits and the meticulous care that went into everything on display.  “Content” is what a museum is all about, after all.  You go there to learn, explore, think and reflect based on what’s there and the way it engages inquiring minds and captures the imagination.

You want content?  CHM claims “the largest and most significant collection of computing artifacts in the world”, according to Wikipedia.  Hard to argue.  This includes many rare or unique objects such as a Cray-1 supercomputer, Cray-2, Cray-3, the Utah teapot, the 1969 Neiman Marcus Kitchen Computer, a Steve Wozniak-autographed Apple I, and an example of the first generation of Google‘s racks of custom web servers.  Throw in 90,000 objects, photographs and films, thousands of feet of cataloged documentation and several hundred gigabytes of software. The entire exhibition is also available online.  Start your exploration with a short video in the orientation theater that provides the 30,000-foot view, then proceed right to the exhibits.  They begin with the first calculators.  Not the ones from Texas Instruments, the ones used by the ancient Chinese (see reference to “A” above).  Finish up with “Networking and the Web”.  Before you leave, don’t miss the exhibit that shows how Google street view does it thing(s).  Hint: it’s a contraption that looks like a high-tech rickshaw.  Seriously cool, however.  Just like the rest of the place.

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