Posted in communication and networking, engineering, museum

Computer history museum goes online

Comparing the Omnibot with his contemporary, t...
Image via Wikipedia

It only seems fitting that a museum devoted entirely to the computer get an online exhibit space:

The online version of the Computer History Museum‘s impressive real-life exhibit on the birth and evolution of computing went live on the Web a few days ago, and besides being a nifty way to indulge in nostalgia, it has a shot at igniting an inventive spark in students and even the grown-ups who surround them.

That’s what good museums do, isn’t it? Entertain and inspire. Challenge and enlighten. It’s true of museums in storied old buildings. And it’s true of museums sitting in the cloud waiting for the world to come through its digital doors.

“We just put online more than 4,500 pages of content covering the width and breath of computer history,” Bob Sanguedolce, the Mountain View museum’s vice president of technology, said at the site’s official launch.

“This is especially important when a search-driven world has conditioned us to expect a vast amount of accessible information to be right at our fingertips,” museum CEO John Hollar said at the kickoff event.

But wait, you eagle-eye readers may ask, where’s the art part? As the curators point out, building an online museum takes LOTS of attention to style, art, design, and how to get users in the virtual doors.

There is a certain joy that a museum without walls brings to its curators. Space is not an issue. But the fact that everything and the kitchen sink (or in this case the Honeywell Kitchen Computer) will fit on the website means the organization of the site needs to be all that more disciplined. And a Web-based museum comes with its own challenges.

“In a physical existence there is one door,” Sanguedolce said after the news conference. “But in an online exhibit there are a thousand doors, and you’re never really sure where somebody is going to come in in an online exhibit.”

Go visit the online exhibit:



Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.