As digital bits became the air we breath in the 21st century, computer museums have become the anthropological interface with our contemporary world. 20 years ago, visiting a computer museum felt like exploring the basement of a geek, but today it helps us better understand how we came to develop a deep relationship with the machines in a matter of a few decades.
Therefore, we need to start ranking those computer museums to energize this new tech culture market and give it its well-deserved impetus.
1. Computer History Museum (CHM) – Mountain View, CA, USA
The Computer History Museum is the reference for computer museums worldwide. Its collection was started in 1966 by the engineer Gordon Bell and officially opened in 1996. CHM claims to hold the largest collection of computing artifacts in the world. It has the Cray-1, Google’s 1st generation custom-designed web servers, the PDP-1, the IBM 1401, … Since 2010, the Computer History Museum also hosts historical code on its servers, open for downloads.
Website : computerhistory.org
2. The National Museum of Computing (TNMOC) – Bletchley Park, UK
The National Museum of Computing is located in the first building ever to have been designed as a computer house. The TNMOC has the world’s largest collection of working historic computers. Among its artifacts, visitors can see a Colossus computer, a Turing-Welchman Bombe, a Harwell Dekatron / WITCH (world’s oldest working digital compute), … The internet gallery opened in 2009.
Website : tnmoc.org
3. Nexon Computer Museum – Jeju Island, South Korea
The Nexon Computer Museum opened in 2013. It was the first computer museum in Asia. The museum has one of the six original Apple 1 (purchased in 2012 for $374,500), an original Altair 8800, an original IBM PC, … Its virtual computer museum was launched in 2015.
Website : nexoncomputermuseum.org
4. HP Garage – Palo Alto, California
The Hewlett-Packard Garage is the Mecca of the digital age. It is the house where William Hewlett and David Packard created the giant computer company and initiated the West Coast tech culture that led the way forward. The HP Garage is an obligatory rite of passage for the spiritual tech pilgrim.
Website : Brochure
5. Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum – Paderborn, Germany
The Heins Nixdorf MuseumsForum has an impressive collection of ancient artefacts related to computing, like clay tablets printed with cuneiform scripts (-2000 BC), a Whilhelm Schickard calculting machine (XVIIth century), Scherbius’ Enigma cipher machine, the first battery-operated electronic pocket calculators, a Cray-2, …
Website : hnf.de