MOUNTAIN VIEW — After being closed for two years due to the pandemic, the Computer History Museum reopened on Saturday, and visitors were once again able to let their inner nerd out while exploring the history of technology.
Visitors could say hello to artifacts such as one of the first robots created, Shakey the robot, which looks like a big metal box with arms, or Pong, one of the first video games.
Kirsten Tashev, vice president of collections and exhibitions at the museum, and other staff were still refreshing Saturday on all the information the museum has to offer before offering tours to guests.
Tashev said she hopes the trend of museums — like the Ice Cream Museum and others that have become more popular as people seek new experiences away from home — will draw people to the center and will encourage people to learn more about the history and future of their technological devices.
“People have a certain impression of the history of computing,” Tashev said. “But it’s a human story and shows how we can solve problems. People who are technical are going to be in love, and the others are going to be like “Wow”. ”
The museum aims to decode technology through “preservation, connection, exploration and conversation”. Some exhibits feature “Easter eggs” or hidden messages and “nerd jokes” for those more familiar with computers and technology, as well as other hands-on experiences and learning centers.
Reviewing the software simulation exhibit, Shelley Alred of Hayward said it was her second visit to the museum, but Saturday was her first full experience.
Alred said her husband was looking for museums to go to over the weekend, but wasn’t sure if the Computer History Museum was open. When they heard of the opening, they decided to make the trip to explore on Saturday morning.
After his first 30 minutes at the museum. she said learning about the history and applications of MRIs interested her most and the exposure she was most interested in.
“I get a lot of MRIs for health reasons, so it was interesting when I saw how it actually works,” Alred said.
Exhibits range from the history of computing to the future of software.
In the “Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing” exhibition, visitors can visit a range of multimedia experiences that chronicle the history and inventions of calculators, computers, games, mobile phones and other devices over the years.
In the “Dec PDP-1 and IBM Demo Labs” exhibit, museum visitors can discover how the DEC PDP-1 minicomputer – one of the world’s first small interactive computers launched in 1959 – “captivated a generation of hackers with its real-time capabilities, advanced graphics” and interstellar game Spacewar
People can also experience the sights and sounds of a 1960s business center with the “popular IBM 1401 Mainframe”, a very large metal box, sometimes referred to as the computer industry’s Model T.
In the program “Creating software: changing the world!” exhibition, visitors can learn about the history and applications of MP3, Photoshop, Wikipedia, texting and World of Warcraft and explore a car crash simulation. It is intended to introduce visitors and students to programming concepts and hands-on coding activities.
The museum also offers a learning lab with hands-on activities, along with educational tours.
And there are many computer artifacts like the UNIVAC, the first commercial electronic computer in the United States. and oral histories from creators to get people thinking about the history, present and future of everyday technology.
Tashev said she expects another rotating exhibit to open soon, with the first exhibit in the series potentially focusing on 1990s technology.
Dave Hoyt, a Saratoga resident and volunteer who leads tours at the museum, said it was “awesome” to see a wide variety of people there Saturday morning. Staff were unsure what kind of turnout to expect for the opening because the museum has been closed since March 2020, he said.
Hoyt said he grew up with computers and his father worked at IBM in the 1950s. He decided to volunteer at the museum because of his love for technology. The exhibits he decides to show visitors change depending on who is in the tour group. The museum attracts many international visitors who come to explore what Silicon Valley has to offer, and sometimes tech legends pop up.
“I’m still learning here,” Hoyt said.