I’ve always considered myself a bit of a geek. Okay, a lot of a geek. Since I laid my eyes on the XT machine my dad brought home to run an experiment back in the early 80s I was completely hooked. Although I wasn’t quite aware of what preceded that, looking at how boring the TV was compared to this very simple computer and the already prevalent Atari games, I knew this is where the future was. My aunt and uncle who came back from years in academia abroad brought back with them the first Mac a year later and to me that was simply heavenly.
But computers have a history that goes back further than I do. Much further. I consider myself very lucky to have had the chance to witness the explosion of computer power and connectivity, but most times – even though I was in the middle of it all – I also tended to lose track of just how fast and how grand the change was. It is, possibly, the biggest change the world has ever seen. So it was always a bit odd to me that I’ve never seen a museum dedicated to this change in our lives. Sure, there are science and technology museums, but they don’t talk about the history of computing as much as they do about our understanding of physics and astronomy.
When visiting universities in the San Francisco area and staying with long lost relatives in San Jose I wanted to a get a feel of the power of the silicon valley. There are a number of small private museums, but the biggest most impressive one is the computer history museum. For geeks, this is an absolute must, a trip back in time taking me to nostalgic memories of simple computing and going even further back to explain how this all came to be. Volunteer guides will take you through an hour of baffling historical facts and stories accompanied by a very large collection of real historical artifacts.
I wish I could recall what everything is and share that with you, but with most of photos you should be able to click on them for the full size resolution and read the descriptions.
There are also a few ‘shows’ with the authentic staff that operated some of the massive mainframes…
But for most things, it’s just a matter of walking around and reading through everything.
There were also a few demonstrations of more recent innovations, like the self-driving Google car you must run into driving around silicon valley.
Stop by if you’re in silicon valley or Stanford University. A definite must if you’re a geek.