The Computer History Museum (CHM) is a museum established in 1996 in Mountain View, California, US. The museum is dedicated to preserving and presenting the stories and artifacts of the information age, and exploring the computing revolution and its impact on society.
The museum's origins date to 1968 when Gordon Bell began a quest for a historical collection and, at that same time, others were looking to preserve the Whirlwind computer. The resulting Museum Project had its first exhibit in 1975, located in a converted coat closet in a DEC lobby. In 1978, the museum, now The Digital Computer Museum (TDCM), moved to a larger DEC lobby in Marlborough, Massachusetts. Maurice Wilkes presented the first lecture at TDCM in 1979 – the presentation of such lectures has continued to the present time.
In 1996/1997, The TCM History Center (TCMHC) in Silicon Valley was established; a site at Moffett Field was provided by NASA (an old building that was previously the Naval Base furniture store) and a large number of artifacts were shipped there from TCM.
In 1999, TCMHC incorporated and TCM ceased operation, shipping its remaining artifacts to TCMHC in 2000. The name TCM had been retained by the Boston Museum of Science so, in 2000, the name TCMHC was changed to Computer History Museum (CHM).
In 2002, CHM opened its new building (previously occupied by Silicon Graphics), at 1401 N. Shoreline Blvd in Mountain View, California, to the public. The facility was later heavily renovated and underwent a two-year $19 million makeover before reopening in January 2011.
Charles Babbage's Difference Engine on Display at the Computer History Museum
The Computer History Museum claims to house the largest and most significant collection of computing artifacts in the world (the Heinz Nixdorf Museum, Paderborn, Germany, has more items on display but a far smaller total collection). This includes many rare or one-of-a-kind objects such as a Cray-1 supercomputer as well as a Cray-2, Cray-3, the Utah teapot, the 1969 Neiman MarcusKitchen Computer, an Apple I, and an example of the first generation of Google's racks of custom-designed web servers. The collection comprises nearly 90,000 objects, photographs and films, as well as 4,000 feet (1,200 m) of cataloged documentation and several hundred gigabytes of software. The CHM oral history program conducts video interviews around the history of computing and networking, with over 700 as of 2016.
The museum features a Liquid Galaxy in the “Going Places: A History of Silicon Valley” exhibit. The exhibit features 20 preselected locations that visitors can fly to on the Liquid Galaxy.
The museum has several additional exhibits, including a restoration of an historic PDP-1 minicomputer, two restored IBM 1401 computers, and an exhibit on the history of autonomous vehicles, from torpedoes to self-driving cars.
The CHM Fellows are exceptional men and women 'whose ideas have changed the world [and] affected nearly every human alive today'. The first fellow was Rear Admiral Grace Hopper in 1987. The fellows program has grown to 80 members as of 2018.
^McJones, Paul (2014-10-21). "Xerox Alto Source Code - The roots of the modern personal computer". Software Gems: The Computer History Museum Historical Source Code Series. Computer History Museum. Archived from the original on 2015-01-02. Retrieved 2015-01-08. With the permission of the Palo Alto Research Center, the Computer History Museum is pleased to make available, for non-commercial use only, snapshots of Alto source code, executables, documentation, font files, and other files from 1975 to 1987.
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