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 →

Posted in Events, News

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)

Posted in News

Updates!

New Computer Museum Updates!

Here are a few quick updates to ring in the New Year!

First, there is a new version of the New Computer Museum application available to download (updated 12/21/15). The application runs on Windows 7/8, and you can download it from the New Computer Museum web site (http://www.newcomputermuseu.org).

Second, this new video shows a quick walk-through of the application. Notice that all of the posters and objects link to interesting content or interactive activities.

Third, as many of you know, the winter months are the slow season for computer history buffs in the Boston area, but the 2016 season is already coming together.

The next Swapfest is April 17th. Here’s a PDF of the poster for the season:
http://web.mit.edu/w1mx/www/swapfest/swapfest-2016.04.pdf

Finally, watch for some good news from us this spring as well.

Happy New Year!
-Mary

Posted in Release

Fond farewell

I had a major dilemma back in the winter of 2012/2013 when I started to think about making my computer hardware and software collection publicly accessible — where to do it? I definitely didn’t want to invite the general public into my home, so I started to look into renting. I quickly found out that things had changed a lot since the days when I had my computer business in Harvard Square (Studio-E, 1994-1997). The commercial rents in Cambridge have become absolutely mind-blowing — they are literally some of the highest in the world. There was no way I could rationalize paying so much for such a tiny, non-profit mission of making some old computers available to the public for free.

Then one day I was walking by Metropolitan Storage. It was a place that had become near and dear to my heart over the years as I had turned to them again and again for stashing my stuff — I had come to think of them as one gigantic, practically boundless “room of requirement.” My ever expanding collection of computing history had made its way there more than once over the 20 years since I had my business. I had an “aha moment,” walked in and struck a deal. The folks at Metropolitan Storage were absolutely fabulous about helping me get set up. They even painted and wired a space right inside the main door, and they were happy to guide anyone who came looking for me to my new space that I decided to dub “Digital Den.”

metropolitan-outside all-best

One of my visitors included Hiawatha Bray from the Boston Globe who wrote this article about my new adventure that debuted on the front page of the business section of a Sunday edition. Hiawatha even included a picture of Bill Gates visiting the old computer museum in Boston!
A passion to preserve the digital past (Hiawatha Bray, Boston Globe, August 31, 2013)

The Globe also sent a reporter to shoot a video to go with the story, and the video does a great job of showing the space that the team at Metropolitan Storage custom built for me.
Cambridge museum aims to preserve digital history (Boston Globe Video)

I eventually learned that I was not alone in my quirky choice — I had other neighbors that had also found some interesting, non-traditional uses for their self-storage units. My favorite co-inhabitant was a woman who had worked with the team at Metropolitan Storage to construct a fantasy closet to house her massive collection of clothes. There was also another unit right next door to mine that had a really fantastic, huge custom built study.

Over time I decided that I wasn’t getting enough traffic from the public to rationalize the expense, so I decided to evolve to a “pop-up” model. It made me sad, but I moved my collection back home and let go of my space. I figured I might get another space someday, maybe shift my clothes there instead of computers next time, and go for a closet space, too …

Alas, that isn’t going to happen after all. Early on in my adventure I learned that MIT had actually bought Metropolitan Storage’s property years ago, and so they could choose to use it for something else someday. Sadly, I learned over the summer that MIT has decided to do just that. Many of us in Cambridge have been talking about it for months — where in the world is all that stuff going to go? What are they going to find in those rooms? A dorm, really? How are they going to do that!?! But most of all, what are all of us Cantabrigians going to do without our wonderful, perennial “rooms of requirement?”

Then last weekend the Boston Globe ran a story about the closing, and they included a video capturing the beautiful custom spaces my former neighbors are giving up. It is a bitter-sweet tribute to what is being lost, and it is also sad that only now is everyone seeing the wonderful things that the team at Metropolitan Storage had been doing for its tenants over the years.
A housing boom claims warehouse full of home trappings (Tim Logan, Boston Globe)

Be sure to check out the story and the video. It really is a tribute to an irreplaceable institution that is going to be sorely missed! So long Metropolitan!

Posted in Interview

Gift Shop!

In honor of Black Friday/Cyber Monday, the New Computer Museum is offering a great deal —
you can download a new version of the Virtual Edition for free!

New Computer Museum v.1.5 (NEWCM-Nov.zip, 57 mb, Google Drive, 11/25/15)
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0BzONVBfavVv9RlN5TElLQTgtQnc/view?usp=sharing

You will find a number of new galleries and objects in this version.
There are more details and instructions in the online Guide.
https://newcomputermuseum.org/guide

This version even has a Gift Shop full of geeky computer gift ideas!
Even if you don’t download the app, you can see them on the web.
https://newcomputermuseum.org/guide/giftshop/

Disclaimer: These are just some fun ideas — the New Computer Museum
gets no proceeds and makes no guarantees about the products.

Enjoy & Cheers!
The New Computer Museum Team

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