Friday, August 01, 2014

Computer History Museum Visit - Hey, That's My Commodore 64!

Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California
It had been so long since I saw a Commodore 64 in person and there is was last week in the Computer History Museum in Mountain View.  I worked pulling weeds in Nebraska soybean fields all summer to save enough money to buy one.  I hooked it up to an old 13 inch black and white TV and wrote programs in BASIC that I saved on cassette tapes because I couldn't afford a disk drive. But the old Commodore was only one of the devices from my youth that took me back on my visit to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California.

Here is a link to my Flickr set of my pictures from the Computer History Museum

Here is a link to 360 degree photosphere from the Computer History Museum

Mainframe at Computer History Museum
Commodore 64 at the Computer History Museum
I was in Mountain View attending a teacher institute at Google and wanted to see a museum in person that I had heard great things about from others.  It did not disappoint.  I was able to spend around 2 hours at the museum and could have easily spend 4 or 5 if catching a flight out of town would not have been an issue.  This is a must stop for anyone who enjoys technology or computers.

Google Driverless Car at Computer History Museum
One part of the museum includes an exhibit on Google's driverless car.  You can sit in the car and see a screen which shows what the car "sees" as it processing all the information around it.  There was a lot of material and description explaining why driverless cars are closer to being a reality than most people think.

It was fun to see the evolution from computers the side of entire rooms, punch cards and mainframes.  One of my favorite items was an authentic German Enigma coding machine from World War II.  The British broke the code of the Enigma and some historians estimate this sped up the end of the war by at least two years.

German Enigma coding machine at Computer History Museum
Other highlights include seeing original Atari game consoles, an original Apple computer signed by Woz, the Apple II that I first used to learn BASIC programing and the Mac that my parents bought in the mid 1980's to modernize the Howells Journal newspaper office.  I spent a lot of time on the weekends printing pages with numerous fonts. It was crazy though seeing items like microfiche and a card catalog in the museum - items that were essential for my work on both my undergrad and masters degree.

Original Apple Computer from 1976, signed by Woz
While in the Bay area I would highly recommend a trip to the Computer History Museum.  It is a beautiful and well organized collection of artifacts that any geek will appreciate. Please note that the museum is closed on both Monday and Tuesday each week.

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