CMoA Preview

I have just came back from seeing a preview of the Computer Museum of America (CMoA) that is slated to open in Roswell, GA north of Atlanta later this year. WOW, it’s going to be huge!

Most of us that are into the computer history scene have already been aware that a computer museum has been percolating there for sometime. That’s mostly because the founder of CMoA, Lonnie Mimms, has worked with the Atlanta Historical Computing Society to provide a venue for the Vintage Computing Festival South East (VCF-SE) for the last few years. For anyone who has attended VCF-SE before this year, the big news is that now there is a huge new location that is being renovated to serve as the permanent home of the CMoA.

The new location will be able to house some much larger exhibits, both literally and figuratively. To give you a sense of what I mean by that, take a look at the “virtual exhibit” of Super Computers that you will find on this site.
super-club
My intention was to take advantage of the “virtual” to be deliberately fanciful. Thus I included the large and rare Cray-1 and Connection Machine-1 (CM-1) for two reasons. The first reason was that they are some of the most recognizable and photogenic systems. The other reason was because I happen to know people who collect such things. Here is a picture of two of them that I snapped when I had the honor of introducing them to each other for the first time at the Flea@MIT back in 2014.
CrayFolk
Still, even though I knew who might have or be able to find the systems, I never really believed the exhibit would ever exist because the cost to create and display it would be too prohibitive.

Imagine how exciting it was to see a proto-exhibit of Crays and Thinking Machines in real life! Here’s a Cray-1 swaddled in shipping material.
Cray
Here are some of its siblings.
CrayFriends
Here is a CM-2 upstaging a Cray X-MP and a couple of its siblings.
TMandFriends1
Here’s a CM-2’s DataVault with other interesting systems huddling behind it.
TMandFriends2
You get the gist, and that is just as sample to help you imagine the scale of what the CMoA will be when it opens this year. There are also a lot of other spaces and plans in the works, and you can find out more about them for yourself on CMoA’s website.

There is no doubt that it will become a “must see” attraction for anyone interested in the history of computing, not only on this coast, but also in this country and around the world.

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Bots&Beers@MIT

The Beer Bash @ MIT was a huge success. The event packed both floors of the museum. It was nice to see the younger generation learning a bit about tech history, and there was even a DJ along with the obligatory LEGO Bots plus, of course, cheesy snacks 🙂


Well done MIT Museum, thanks to the folks who said hello and apologies to anyone we happened to miss in the crowd. Cheers!

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Meetup@MIT Museum

Yes, it’s been awhile, but things aren’t nearly as quiet as they seem — there’s a ton going on behind the scenes, so watch for announcements soon. In the meantime, the MIT Museum is hosting a unique, two part Tasting & Beer Bash. Catch the crew from the New Computer Museum at Part 2 to hear what we’ve been up to and what’s on the near horizon.

Food & Beverages@MIT Museum
Tuesday, July 18, 2017, 8:20 pm – 10:20 pm
MIT Museum
265 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA

Part 1: Food for Thought, 7-9 p.m.
Part 2: Beer Bash, 8:30-11 p.m.

Note: Tickets may sell out and sales end July 16!

Buy tickets from MIT Museum: http://mitmuseum.mit.edu/food
RSVP for New Computer Museum Meetup: https://www.meetup.com/New-Computer-Museum/

See you by the bots!

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Field trip!

It had to happen sooner or later. It was inevitable, and so a trip to Silicon Valley Virtual Reality Expo for Digital-Den provided the perfect opportunity, Yes, that long-overdue visit to the Computer History Museum (CHM) in Mountain View, CA finally took place!

BTW If you’re not already familiar with the history of CHM and it’s older incarnation in Boston, be sure to check out the page about it on this site.

It was every bit as impressive as you would expect. The majority of the computers are part of the Revolution Exhibit which covers the entire history of computing from ancient times to the present.

It was so massive, it was overwhelming. Of course, I took hundreds of pictures. However, for you to get a good sense of it, it is best to watch this 40 minute long YouTube video tour by Chris Garcia, a Computer History Museum curator, and none other than Steve Wozniak (Woz).

The video was made back in 2010, but it does a good job of giving a sense of the experience. Here’s a link to the PC World story where I learned about the video.
Steve Wozniak shows us around the Computer History Museum’s first full-blown permanent exhibit: Revolution: First 2000 Years of Computing (Harry McCracken, PC World)

Here’s my close-up of the Apple I exhibit. Notice Woz’s signature!

Of course, I took a few minutes to bond with the robot exhibit.

Then there was the chance to actually see the Utah Teapot with my own eyes, and yes, it is a different shape than it looks in the 3D models!

Then there was also a mandatory stop into the PDP-1 Restoration Room.

Overall, it was an amazing visit. Then the trip came to a very unexpected conclusion. Guess who I met at the airport waiting for the plane home?

Woz-TheCard

Yup, that actually happened!

What an amazing coincidence, as well as a perfect conclusion to the journey. Of course, I’ve got a lovely new little artifact for the collection as well  😉

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Seymour

Seymour Papert passed away in July of last year, and this week I had the privilege of attending the memorial event in his honor held at the MIT Media Lab entitled Thinking about Thinking about Seymour.
thinkingaboutthinking
Here are two videos that capture just a bit of what Nicholas Negroponte and Alan Kay had to say about Seymour.

The have also announced that Mindstorms is now available online for free!
Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas (Basic Books, 1980)

Seymour may be gone, but there is still a vibrant community of his followers carrying on his work. Gary Stager and Cynthia Solomon are two of the most well known and active members. Cynthia was one of Seymour Papert’s earliest and closest collaborators, and Gary holds yearly events called Constructing Modern Knowledge.

garycynthia

Gary Stager & Cynthia Solomon @
Thinking about thinking about Seymour, January 26, 2017

Here are some links to Logo community resources.
Logo Things (Cynthia Solomon)
Logo Projects (Cynthia Solomon)
Cynthia Solomon (Wikipedia)
You should know Cynthia Solomon (Gary Stager)
Constructing Modern Knowledge (Gary Stager)
Logo Foundation (Michael Temple)
The Design of Technological Tools for Thinking and Learning (Uri Wilensky)
Logo Tree Project (P. Boytchev)

Finally, the exhibit on this site has been freshly updated with the above resources and more. Check it out!
Learning and Computing

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Calling Collectors

The New Computer Museum, in both the virtual form it is taking now as well as whatever real life physical form that it might take in the future, seeks to celebrate what hobbyists, private collectors and small museums are doing to preserve computing history in New England.

One of the most important lessons that has come from trying to set up a computer museum is that the enterprise of saving computing history during this critical time requires a robust ecology that covers the spectrum from large museums to individual hobbyists saving computers in basements or garages. No one institution, group or individual can or should try to do it all because it just takes way to much expertise, time, space and other resources. It is simple. The more distributed and local computer history preservation activity there is going on now, the more robust and specific computer history will be in the future.

Luckily, there is a lot more going on out there than most people realize. There are a number of places you can look to find information, and there are links to some of them here.

The information on that page is currently very general. Meanwhile, the New Computer Museum has been getting more and more inquiries from donors about whether we want old computers and related materials. While we do accept some very specific things that contribute to our current and future exhibits, we have been referring the majority of offers to other collectors and institutions in New England (MA, RI, VT, NH, ME). This has been getting fairly time consuming while also not being ideal — there are certainly many worthy collectors in the local area that who would be well suited to receive some of the offers, and they would love to do it, but we’re just not aware of them at this time.

That is why we are putting together a New England Wide Computer Collector Directory that will be hosted on this site. Over the next few months we will be actively trying to find computer collectors in the New England area to add to the directory so that potential donors can contact the most appropriate collectors directly. Of course, if the New Computer Museum is putting together an exhibit, we will also hope to turn to those same collectors for support.

So, if you or someone you know wants to be added to the directory, please let us know! info@newcomputermuseum.org

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Fall fun!

Fall is here already, and that means the last Flea@MIT is approaching. Join us on Sunday, October 16th for two back-to-back events.

First, the New Computer Museum will have a table at the Flea from 9 a.m. to noon. We will be using this as an opportunity to “redistribute” some “surplus systems” (i.e. some extra stuff we’ve picked up during some “salvage” type operations).

Second, we’ll pack up and head to Champions for a snack from 1 pm to 2 pm.

Stop by, say hi and hear the latest developments!
Please RSVP to let us know to watch for you…
Flea@MIT (9am-12pm)
Snack@Champions (1pm-2pm)

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