Computer History Museum photos

Back in October 2010, I was interviewed for the Computer History Museum's new exhibit, Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing, and then in November I was invited to a pre-opening tour of the exhibit, which was enormously fun. The exhibit wasn't finished yet, so much of it was still in shrink-wrap, and most of the title cards said things like, "38 word description goes here", but that actually made it more fun: not only did we get to see all these amazing old artfacts, but we got to peek behind the curtain and see how you build a museum exhibit, which was really interesting in its own right.

The exhibit opened to the public in January 2011, but somehow I hadn't gotten around to visiting again until November, so here are two sets of photos, taken a year apart.

Their fully functional Difference Engine is truly a marvel. Make sure you see it being demonstrated! The sounds it makes are incredible.

There's a short clip with me in the "Art of Writing Software" movie, and I show up in at least one of the smaller video kiosks talking about what programming is like. (You can see the DNA Lounge logo in the background! Yay! But they misspelled my name on the kiosk! Boo!)

It really is a great museum. Its easy to spend many hours there. You should give them money and artifacts.

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14 Responses:

  1. Russell Borogove says:

    Like Dr. McCoy in a 20th-century hospital, when I look at those toggle-switch panels I am gripped by sympathetic horror at the barbaric conditions my predecessors worked in. I also feel faintly guilty about bitching at the inconveniences of, say, the C++STL.

  2. gryazi says:

    Aww, you can barely see the ashtray! http://www.jwz.org/photos/2011-11-05-computerhistory/119.html

    For Commodore/reality-of-the-'80s-PC-era wankers like myself, the video from their C64 anniversary bash [including Tramiel, Woz, and Bill Lowe from IBM] is not to be missed. For some reason it does not seem to readily pop up on their site, though. http://www.commodore.ca/gallery/video/video.htm appears to have it in chunks up top.

  3. J. Peterson says:

    Great photos, I'll have to go back. I think they need to revive the blinkenlights though. That'd be fun.

  4. MattyJ says:

    "Tank Heater Voltage Monitor" is by far my most favorite knob.

  5. Mike Marion says:

    Hah.. in http://www.jwz.org/photos/2011-11-05-computerhistory/138.html we had both the red puzzle game (I can't remember the name) on the left and the electronic trivia booklet game on the right.

  6. oecumena says:

    They misspelt "jwz"? Hopefully it is at least hyphenated correctly.

  7. Colby Russell says:

    The scrolling "instructions written in code" at 0:22 is from mozilla-central.

    CNavDTD.cpp

  8. That Difference Engine is the only computer I've seen that has an oil pan.

  9. nooj says:

    What's the name of the red phone here?
    http://www.jwz.org/photos/2011-11-05-computerhistory/138.html

    Each of the four buttons at the bottom run a different game. I had one of these a million years ago and I wanted to recreate them for xscreensaver, but I couldn't remember its name or the exact rules.