Tuesday, June 19, 2018

101 South: Mountain View, Computer History Museum


Computer History Museum  1401 N. Shoreline Blvd., just E of Hwy. 101, (650) 810-1010.  W-Sun 10am-5pm (tour times vary).  $17.50, under 11 free.  Formerly part of The Computer Museum in Boston, this comprehensive collection of computer-related artifacts moved to the Bay Area in 1996 and opened here in 2002.  Displaying more than 1,100 items (only 1% of the collection), it has the world’s largest collection of computing artifacts.  Hardware and software are exhibited, as well as photos and videos.  Take a tour if possible, and take time to view the orientation movie.  Among the gems you’ll see are the first Apple computer (which sells now for more than it did when it went on the market), a World War II ENIGMA encryption/decryption device, and the 1975 Illiac IV (an earlier Illiac computer is said to have inspired director Stanley Kubrick for his movie “2001”).  A 1980 Japanese Sharp calculator with abacus (for those who didn’t trust the calculator) and a 1969 Neiman Marcus "Kitchen Computer" that was priced at $10,000 (they didn’t sell any) are also displayed.  A new section devoted to software that opened in 2017 features many hands-on exhibits.  In a circular layout, it shows how, according to my guide, “software is to a computer as sheet music is to a piano.”  Exhibits describe how software functions in Photoshop, MRIs, and car-crash tests.

Monroe LAS-160 calculator from 1940s at Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California
Monroe LAS-160 calculator from 1940s at Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California


early analog computer patch panel at Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California
early analog computer patch panel at Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California


phonograph doll from 1940s at Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California
phonograph doll from 1940s at Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California


Waymo self-driving vehicle from 2014 at Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California
Waymo self-driving vehicle from 2014 at Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California





The Cloud Bistro operates in the lobby and serves light fare such as soups, sandwiches, salads, and pastries.  Seating is available both inside, and outside on an expansive lawn with shade and plenty of colorful, comfortable Adirondack chairs.

outside lounge area at Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California
outside lounge area at Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California


Also noteworthy is a planting of dramatic coast redwoods that lines the sidewalk in back by the parking lot, where you'll also have access to re-charging your Tesla while you browse the museum.

coast redwoods line sidewalk behind Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California
coast redwoods line sidewalk behind Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California


Tesla charging station behind Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California
Tesla charging station behind Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California




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