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.


Farewell Marvin, you will be dearly missed!

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

Posted in News


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 (

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:

Click to access swapfest-2016.04.pdf

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

Happy New Year!

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 (, 57 mb, Google Drive, 11/25/15)

You will find a number of new galleries and objects in this version.
There are more details and instructions in the online 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.

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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Posted in Release


If you download and look at the current version of the “Virtual Edition” of the New Computer Museum, you will quickly see that it is definitely a “draft.” There are a lot of “Under Construction” signs and only half of the galleries are there yet. The good news is that there will be a new, more robust version published in late November. In the meantime, we are looking for reviewers. If you are interested, please let us know by email at

Posted in Uncategorized


New Computer Museum, Virtual Edition is here!

Welcome Area, New Computer Museum v. 1.5

Welcome Area, New Computer Museum v. 1.5

The New Computer Museum, Virtual Edition was released at a small party of the New Computer Museum Meetup group held in Cambridge on Sunday, October 18th.

New Computer Museum Virtual Edition Release

New Computer Museum Virtual Edition release party!

You can now download the application from the New Computer Museum website and visit the museum from the comfort of your own computer. The goal of the “Virtual Edition” of the New Computer Museum is twofold. It demonstrates the vision of what the “real” New Computer Museum has the potential to become, and it also stands on its own as a valuable and entertaining educational experience. This is particularly true because of the extensive material included in the Guide published on the New Computer Museum site. There is also a brand new history of the project posted on the site as well. Check it out!


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Posted in Events, Welcome


NEW Computer Museum VR Ed. Release!

Sunday, October 18, 2015
1:00 PM to 2:00 PM
50 Broadway, Cambridge, MA

The “virtual edition” of the NEW Computer Museum will be published on Sunday, October 18th. Come see a demo and provide feedback for future releases of both the virtual and “potential” real life editions. RSVP at the New Computer Museum Meetup

The goal of the “Virtual Reality Edition” of the New Computer Museum is twofold. It demonstrates the vision of what the “real” New Computer Museum has the potential to become, and it also stands on its own as a valuable educational experience for use in classrooms. You can see more screen shots of the virtual exhibits on the New Computer Museum home page.

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Posted in Events

What’s up?

The New Computer Museum is in transition!

Be sure to keep an eye on this site and the Meetup for an announcement about the new phase over the next week or two! Meanwhile, for a sneak peak of what’s about to come, check out the blog post below about the early prototypes of the New Computer Museum, VR Ed.. The primary New Computer Museum sponsor and developer, Digital Den site has more news about parallel, but highly interrelated developments like Cosma 3D, and of course, Cosma, the original parent site to all of them has plenty of fun and interesting things to see and do too. The computer and computer preservation pages are probably the best places to start exploring. Please stay tuned, more soon…

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Posted in Uncategorized

Out & About

The New Computer Museum team was out and about learning new skills and sharing the latest draft of the “VR Edition” over the weekend.Here’s a quick recap…

First, Saturday brought a fantastic opportunity to spend the day at Google’s Cambridge office learning all about how to use Unity3D to create and publish content for the Google Cardboard and the Samsung GearVR. These happen to be the two target delivery platforms for the VR Edition of the New Computer Museum when it is published later this summer, so this was a particularly timely and incredibly valuable experience!

Saturday VR Code Lab Google Cardboard – Samsung Gear VR

Saturday, Jul 18, 2015, 10:00 AM

Google Cambridge
355 Main Street Cambridge, MA

96 Members Went

This event is co-organized with the Boston Virtual Reality Group and Boston Android The Summer of Virtual Reality – Come and build VR skills or share your VR skills. We’re having an all-day hands on VR Code Lab at Google for software developers.Google, Samsung, HTC and Facebook all have VR products and big plans with staffed development teams in…

Check out this Meetup →

Juno Forbes spent the morning doing an amazing job of providing rigorous instruction that ranged all the way from the very basics of Unity3D programming all the way through how to publish our work for Google Cardboard. He was also kind enough to agree to let us re-post this picture that he took of the second half of the day. Thanks Juno!


Saturday VR Code Lab Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR (Photo Credit: Juno Forbes)

After lunch Dustin Wish from Samsung gave the crowd a wonderfully detailed walk-through of how to code an application in Unity3D and publish it to the Samsung GearVR. It was awesome to find out that the process for publishing to both Google Cardboard and Samsung GearVR is relatively painless!

Then Sunday was a beautiful day to take the newest draft of the New Computer Museum, VR Edition off to a Show & Tell at the Flea@MIT.  Long-time Flea attendees had great fun stopping by to experience the latest iteration of the project, and they provided some ideas for even more cool things that we can add to the next version. As you can tell from the picture, there are some interesting folks that hang out at the Flea@MIT 🙂 Thanks to their help, the next draft will be even better — please stay tuned for information on when and how to see it!


New Computer Museum, VR Edition Show & Tell at the Flea@MIT (Photo Credit: Neil Carlson)

Posted in Events


New Computer Museum, VR Edition Preview
Flea@MIT, Sunday, July 19, 2015 · 9:00 am – 11 am

Come see an early version of a “Virtual Reality (VR) Edition” of the New Computer Museum!  This is a chance to “walk through” a 3D/VR space and see some of the exhibits that are actually possible in real life now. The application is being built in Unity 5.1 and will be available for WebGL, Google Cardboard, Samsung GearVR and Oculus Rift later this summer.

New Computer Museum, Virtual Reality Edition

The version that will be available on July 19th is actually just an early draft, so the galleries and exhibits will be a small subset of what will be in the full version. However, there was an earlier “rapid prototype” of the full vision built in SecondLife — here are a few images from that prototype to give you some sense of what the full version will be like when it is released.

The full Unity based version will demonstrate the vision of what a “real ” New Computer Museum has the potential to become in the near future. It will also stand on its own as a valuable and entertaining educational experience for use in classrooms. Finally, the VR Edition of the New Computer Museum will be an exploration of how the new  wave of virtual reality products can be used in the context of museums and art galleries.

Please stop by, say hi, take a look, and share your feedback!

Posted in Events