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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Bletchley 360°

One of the initiatives of the New Computer Museum has been to experiment with how to bring computer history to more people through creating “virtual experiences.” You can find our example of a “Virtual Computer Museum” based upon our own collection on this site.

Of course, we are not the only ones to have experimented with the idea. For example, here’s a YouTube 360° tour of the Nexon Computer Museum in South Korea (it is in Korean).

You can also find numerous examples of virtual museum experiences reviewed on the New Computer Museum’s sister site, Cosma 3D, but few of those examples are as compelling as CNET’s initiative to bring Bletchley Park to VR.

Of course, most people familiar with this site will also be familiar with the story of Alan Turing and Bletchley Park, but if not, you can learn about it from Bletchley Park’s site, Wikipedia or check out the movie The Imitation Game.

So, CNET worked with Bletchley Park to create a compelling 3D/360 tour of the real life site that is now a museum in Milton Keynes. Here is the virtual tour that you can see as a YouTube 360° video on just the Web or with a VR headset (Cardboard, GearVR, etc.).

Better yet, they made a great “behind the scenes” too!

Finally, here’s a CNET story about the project.
Bletchley Park in 360: See inside Britain’s Enigma-breaking HQ (Luke Westaway, CNET)

Three cheers to CNET and Bletchley Park!

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Spring Meetup

The winter is waning, and spring is on its way.

That means that it is time for another season of computer history in the Boston area.

The New Computer Museum is hosting an event to celebrate!

Flea@MIT+Champions

Sunday, Apr 17, 2016, 1:00 PM

9 Computing History Enthusiasts Attending

Check out this Meetup →

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New Digs!

At last, the ink is dry, the lease signed. Please stay tuned …

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Marvin

05 minskyAtHome

Marvin Minsky died last Sunday (Jan. 24), of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 88. This is an incredibly sad loss to many of us, both near and far — it feels as if a hole has been torn in the fabric of our intellectual universe.

Marvin Minsky, “father of artificial intelligence,” dies at 88 (MIT News)

For those of you who did not know Marvin, here is a brief overview from the Media Lab web site (where he was a co-founder).

Marvin Minsky has made many contributions to AI, cognitive psychology, mathematics, computational linguistics, robotics, and optics. In recent years he has worked chiefly on imparting to machines the human capacity for commonsense reasoning. His conception of human intellectual structure and function is presented in two books: The Emotion Machine and The Society of Mind (which is also the title of the course he teaches at MIT). He received the BA and PhD in mathematics at Harvard (1950) and Princeton (1954). In 1951 he built the SNARC, the first neural network simulator. His other inventions include mechanical arms, hands and other robotic devices, the Confocal Scanning Microscope, the “Muse” synthesizer for musical variations (with E. Fredkin), and one of the first LOGO “turtles”. He has received the ACM Turing Award, the MIT Killian Award, the Japan Prize, the IJCAI Research Excellence Award, the Rank Prize and the Robert Wood Prize for Optoelectronics, and the Benjamin Franklin Medal. –Media Lab, 2015

More importantly, here is a wonderful video clip that the Media Lab highlighted this week that came from what was surely one of his last public appearances during the Media Lab’s 30th anniversary event in October of 2015. It captures the love and respect that his community felt for him as well as his keen wit that led to it.

Marvin Minsky and Danny Hillis: Mind, Magic & Mischief

Media Lab 30th Anniversary, Overview
Media Lab 30th Anniversary, Videos)

For those of you who do not know about the specific connections between Marvin and the New Computer Museum’s collections, check out the Learning & Computing exhibit on this site. Here is a link to a special, seldom seen original video from that exhibit.

Video: Marvin Minsky @ Purdue (1988)

Finally, here is a link to a fully-online version of one of his most famous works.

SOM

Farewell Marvin, you will be dearly missed!

Related sites
Marvin Minsky (Media Lab)
Marvin Minsky (Wikipedia)

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