December 3, 2010 AT 4:45 pm

Computer History: What Should Be Saved?

Interesting article about the “re-launch” of the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA. via IEEE Spectrum:

On January 13, the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California will be relaunching with a new exhibit, “Revolution:  The First 2000 Years of Computing.”

According to the museum’s site, “Revolution is a 25,000 square foot, multimedia experience that will immerse visitors in the sights, sounds and stories of the computer revolution. More than 1,000 artifacts from the Museum’s vast collection will be on view, including rare computers, audio and video, photographs, games, and hands-on displays. Revolution will also feature more than 100 media stations and three mini-theaters.”

How do they determine what to include?   When the Wall Street Journal asked Dag Spicer, the senior curator at the museum, he said “We have what we call a 10-year rule. We prefer to wait 10 years in order to assess its historical importance. We’ve made exceptions—for example, the iPod. We didn’t need to wait 10 years to know that would be a world-changing technology.”

So, what computer equipment do you think is worthy of preservation? Aside from the obvious candidates like the MITS Altair or the Apple I pictured above, I’d have to say a DEC VT100 terminal and an acoustic coupler modem. And one of those enormous trackballs. But really, if they’re going to provide a “multimedia experience” they need to have an interactive exhibit where visitors can attempt to re-order punched cards after they are dropped on the floor.

What do you think?

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  1. This museum is well worth the visit, and it’s free!

    They have a room with a restored PDP-1. You can play Space War on it.

  2. Sinclair ZX80 and Microace, they take up so little room !!!

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