Top 5 Computer museums in the world

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.

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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.

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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.

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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, …

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IT Development Startups

Top 5 Tech cities of Mexico

With $14 billion in vegetable exports and another $11,5 billion in other food exports, Mexico ranks among the top agricultural producers in the world. Rural Mexico is an economic heavyweight. But aside from producing agricultural goods, just how advanced is the “rest of Mexico”?

Part of the plan of Mexico’s president AML Obrador is to decongest the country’s capital city by moving many government agencies (at least 60) to other cities. While some Mexican cities are modern, developed urban areas with diversified economies, others are rather unknown and raise pessimism regarding their ability to host full-bodied government agencies. The Mexican Association of Real Estate Professionals argued that only 6 cities were developed enough in Mexico to receive new government agencies.

What’s the state of technology outside of DF? Does it have what it takes to create new technology-driven cities  across the country and fulfill its struggle against centralism.

1. Guadalajara, “Silicon Valley” of Mexico

Historically, Guadalajara has been the Mexican extension of the Silicon Valley. IBM, HP, Intel, all major US technology players were front-line players in the development of the region’s technology sector. To adapt to the newtech economy, Guadalajara revamped its tech appeal a decade ago by developing a startup and innovation economy.

Guadalajara quickly turned into geek city. With +600 tech startups and growing, the city is home to Voxfeed, WePow (acquired by Outmatch), Yotepresto, Ooyala (acquired by Telstra), Kueski, … Many software companies operate from Guadalajara: iTexico, Blue Trail Software, Luxoft, Wizeline, Cognizant, Tiempo,  … Intel’s unique Latam research lab is in Guadalajara.

The state and city governments have developed favorable conditions for the development of tech startups. The city invested in tech poles, data centers, and smart city solutions to lead the digital revolution in Mexico. In 2012, IBM inaugurated Mexico’s first smart data centers in Guadalajara. In 2016, a private/public partnership led to the launch Creative Digital City, a 100,000 square feet high-tech complex that symbolizes the city’s leadership in innovation.

Tagged as the Silicon Valley of Mexico, the city outperforms by far its runner-up, Monterrey.

2. Monterrey, Mexico’s “most Americanized city”

The state of Nuevo Leon, where Monterrey is located, is home of 100+ industrial parks. In 2007, the Indian software giant Wipro chose Monterrey to set up its Latin American base. The city, a direct competitor to Guadalajara for the title of Mexico’s most hype tech scene, is home to 2 major IT outsourcers : Softtek and Neoris. The latter recently opened its own Innovation Lab in Monterrey’s Digital Hub to boost the city’s digital transformation.

Monterrey is home to major Mexican corporations such as Cemex, Femsa, Banorte and BanRegio, Soriana, Farmacia Benavides, and many more that have the means to invest and conquer markets rapidly. Femsa and Coca-Cola have been supporting local startups since 2014. Cemex signed a $500 million deal with Neoris in 2013. In August 2018, US-based software company Digital On Us, which already has Mexican offices in Saltillo and Guadalajara,  announced a $40 million investment to create an office in Monterrey.

An estimated 28,000 people worked for 320 companies of the IT sector in Monterrey in 2017. Thanks to its short distance to the US border, its wealthy local economy, and its intention to become a fully-fledged digital hub, Monterrey is definitely on Mexico’s digital map.

3. Tijuana, “just a step away” from the US

Just like Monterrey, Tijuana is located very close to the US border (1.7 mile exactly), facing San Diego (20 minute ride) on the other side of the border. The San Diego-Tijuana Metropolitan Area is an economic hotspot, its combined GDP is comparable to the one of Ireland ($230 billion). The technology manufacturer Busta Corp is headquartered in Tijuana, and 3DRobotics chose Tijuana to grow outside of Berkeley.

In 2011, the city opened the BIT Center, its own digital hub that now hosts more than 60 tech companies. In 2014, the city launched a binational working space, HUBSTN (Hub Station), where the old Mexicoach bus station previously stood. Uber and Yelp have offices in the building. In 2014, tech accelerator Mind Hub launched its first call for projects in Tijuana.

The gist of Tijuana’s competitiveness in the Mexican tech race is its direct access to San Diego and the US. The city stands as a physical revolving door between North and South. Felipe Fernández, CEO of Sonata Services MX, concurs that tech workers in the tech sector in Tijuana are literally “one step away” from being hired by a US company.

4. Querétaro, “the NAFTA Highway”

Nested about 150 miles north of Mexico DF, Querétaro is located in the center of the country. The region is economically boosted by the “NAFTA highway” and centralizes a lot of the nationwide activities that fall under this agreement. This drove the development of aerospatial activities in the area, turning Querétaro into a new hub for aerospace in Mexico and collaterally into a tech hub.

Unlike Monterrey and its 100+ technology and industrial parks, Querétaro just has a little over 20 ones. But Axtel’s multiple investment in its Querétaro data centers shows just how fast the situation can evolve in Central Querétaro.This is just the tip of the iceberg : In 2014, the Chinese tech manufacturer Huawei announced a $1.5 billion investment plan to build 4 ICT facilities in Querétaro, China’s largest investment in Mexico ever! Daewoo followed a year later with a $100 million investment to build a new platform in the Metropolitan area. In 2017, after the USA, Romania and India, Deloitte chose Querétaro in Mexico to set up its 4th regional Technology service center worldwide. Ericsson from Sweden and Safran of France launched operations in Querétaro in 2013, where Tata Consulting was already established.  

While its economy is definitely booming with technology-oriented activities, Querétaro lacks a newtech spirit. Its startup scene is fairly unknown, no major tech brands emerged from Querétaro. The area is usually described as charming, calm, and an alternative to DF’s dense urban area. Querétaro holds a great tech potential, but needs to up its game regarding entrepreneurship and its startup ecosystem to become a true innovation pole.

5. Cancún, Mexico’s cosmopolitan city

Cancún’s airport is Mexico 2nd busiest airport (4th in all Latin America) with 25 million passengers in 2018. 95% of its economy is based on tourism. But now the city wants to diversify its revenue to secure its growth. After Microsoft launched a Microsoft Innovation Center (MIC) in Cancún in 2015, the city launched the Cancún Tech City program in 2017 which aims to promote Cancún as a legit destination for tech companies. That same year, US-based software developer iTexico led the way by opening new offices in Cancún.

As a traveling capital of the continent and a vibrant destination for millenials, Cancún is lively and attractive enough to develop a newtech sector. According to Matt Edwards of CancunIT, a Cancun-based software development company that’s been around for 15 years, “The number of technology companies is growing, which is attracting more people to the area.” Others argue there is already a mass of freelancers, nomad workers and tech entrepreneurs living in the vicinity of Cancún, living in beautiful Yucatan and managing their business remotely.

However, like Querétaro, the newtech ecosystem does not exist yet. One mobile application made-in Cancún, Quiero Taxi Exotic, got a little buzz as it aims to become the Uber of luxury cars. The small electronic invoicing company Pyme is also based in Cancún, but according to its founder, “Cancun is not precisely what you’d call a hotbed for tech startups”.

Cancún’s technology culture is heavily diluted in tourism, and the city is still strongly perceived as a beach party city. However, if Cancún was willing to sober up to become a more serious IT destination, it would have the potential to become a tech capital overnight.

IT Development

Blue Trail Software, the next Mexican IT company

The United States and Mexico have a long history of developing technology together. Since the Silicon Valley IT boom of the 1960s, Mexico has been the kingpin of the sector’s profitability by delocalizing the production of hardware South of the border. This move enabled US technology companies to dramatically grow their profit margins, and also to develop a more affordable yet highly-skilled labor in a foreign neighboring country. The Monterrey Institute of Technology, founded in 1943, experienced an exponential growth during the 1970s and 1980s, and many more schools of technology were created since then. This Mexican labor force has been essential to sustain the growth of the US IT market, as most Mexican engineers work for US companies, or for Mexican companies contracted by US companies.

Technology from the “outer Mexico”

Today, as technology became global, the demand for IT outsourcing to Mexico is exploding, almost reaching saturation point. It has become very difficult to recruit quality, experienced developers in major Mexican Metropolitan areas. Many Mexican technology development companies have seen their revenues increase at 3-digit rates in the last decade, yet the Google of Mexico doesn’t exist yet… We cannot identify one Mexican IT company that sets the example for their market peers and where all the top notch developers dream to work for one day. The market lacks a major player with a unique Mexican IT culture that would materialize the importance of technology in the country. While looking for a valid runner up to this title, we ran across Blue Trail Software, a contestant to become the next Mexican IT company. We called Rosalba Reynoso, CEO of the company, who kindly accepted to submit to an interview.

Founded a decade ago in San Francisco, California, Blue Trail Software now ranks among the top upcoming outsourcers of technology to Mexico. It inked deals with Samsung, Ring, Call Potential, Bloom, Legion, .. US companies ranging from startups to global leaders. Yet Blue Trail Software didn’t set its Mexican headquarters in a major Mexican city like DF, Guadalajara, Monterrey, Tijuana, … Instead the company chose Los Altos de Jalisco, the rural region where the Mexican cheese Navarro is produced. Rosalba Reynoso, CEO of the company, explains:

We knew from the start that we would not be able to compete against the big guns offering dementially high salaries to win the recruitment war in large Metropolitan areas. Instead, we focused on the authenticity of the “outer” Mexico to attract great developers more keen on living in the quieter traditional lifestyle offered by the country’s smaller cities.

Rosalba Reynoso

This approach makes sense with Mexico, as the country’s inhabitants are very family-driven and often prefer to stay close to their relatives. Those developers may not get the high-rolling pays that big city employers offer to compete for recruitment, but they get a way cheaper and healthier lifestyle than they would in the big cities, so all-in-all, working for Blue Trail Software remains a pretty competitive offer.

That was our point exactly. We wanted to recruit smart individuals looking for a different experience. Being outside of the big city helped Blue Trail become the unique company it is today. We’re just an hour away from the center of Guadalajara, and an even shorter distance to the city’s international airport. Standing at the periphery of Metropolitan Guadalajara suits us like a glove.

Rosalba Reynoso

Mexico, cornerstone between US and Latam

In its first years of inception, Blue Trail Software rapidly opened offices in Argentina and Uruguay, a multishoring strategy that enabled the company to quickly diversify its pool of talents, and rely on each country’s strength to provide solid development solutions to its clients. Rosalba Reynoso explains : «At first we thought that our offices in each country would behave independently from each other. Over time, it became obvious that American companies mainly wanted to work with neighboring companies in Mexico

Facing North, the Mexican culture is the closest to the lifestyle of the USA: The presence of Mexicans northbound of the country’s frontier is notoriously massive and likewise, Americans love to spend their holidays in Mexico. Where many Mexicans speak English, a lot of Americans can at least blabber some Spanish words. Bilateral trading between the two countries is intensive, most Mexican banks are aligned with international standards, and the Mexican peso is just as stable as the US dollar.

Mexico shares many cultural features with other Latin American countries that contribute to build a common Latam culture: the Native American roots still imprinted in the culture today, the common language inherited from the Spanish colonial period, the geographic proximity, the dominance of the Catholic Church, etc. Though each culture composing Latin America is unique, those common traits allow easier communication, enhanced collaboration, and almost no cultural barriers in problem-solving scenarios.

Multi-shoring to different Latam countries is key for us, but secondary in our clients’ list of expectations. They just want a job well done with someone they can easily interact with and meet in person when necessary

Rosalba Reynoso

Located between the United States and Latin America, Mexico is the natural middleman to connect American companies with their Latin counterparts.

The Blue Trail of confidence

Last year, Blue Trail Software’s revenue grew by 30%, but the company’s CEO gets grinding teeth when mentioning those numbers: «It was a challenging year» admits Rosalba Reynoso «but we crossed the chasm and became a fully-fledged “midsize” technology company. We appointed a world-class Board of Directors to help us transition towards a stage of accelerated growth. We are now looking at developing our presence in Mexico, organically and through acquisitions. Changing the company’s structure was a resource-intensive process. I have very high expectations for 2019.»

Blue Trail Software was developed by Rémi Vespa, a French computer veteran who launched successful ventures in Europe before settling in California in the midst of the dotcom boom to pursue his entrepreneurial ambitions. He met Rosalba Reynoso, and together, they developed the Latam-wide technology company Blue Trail Software. Rosalba Reynoso prides herself when she admits that she had no previous significant experience in IT before launching Blue Trail Software:

I am an entrepreneur at heart. When the opportunity to launch Blue Trail Software emerged, the thrill to build a novel, pan-American company drove me into it. Beyond producing technology, we seek to develop a company with a purpose to fulfill and a meaningful raison d’être.

Rosalba Reynoso

Rosalba Reynoso knew that if she succeeded in launching Blue Trail Software, that would create an exemplary trail for the company’s employees to follow: «Strong personalities attract each others.» With Rosalba Reynoso acting as CEO, the company is sending the message that more women are also invited to join the tech force. From entry-level to top management, Blue Trail Software aims to make the Mexican IT industry more attractive to women. With 1/3 of the employees being women, Blue Trail Software is aligned with the average of women in tech in the USA, but clearly outperforms the 1/5 average of women in tech in Mexico.

Blue Trail Software developed a proprietary free mobile application, Luna Nueva, for women going through menopause. It also sponsors various charities and NGOs across the continent. The company’s contributions usually span from supporting local football clubs to providing computer training programs to people with no IT background.

Triptic Teach-Empower-Evolve Strategy

Growing bigger in a fast-paced industry usually leads to 2 major issues for HR: retaining good employees targeted by the competition with very attractive job opportunities, and competing against the sector’s top players to recruit new talents.

Retaining our employees has been our primary concern since day 1. We have a policy of educating and nurturing our employees to enable them to the fullest, and that requires a lot of investment. We just can’t afford to lose too many at once, our employees are the pillars of our management paradigm. Growing rapidly and attracting even more bright minds to join us stands in the continuity of our policy of empowering our employees, as it creates a virtuous circle around Blue Trail Software that appeals to the best.

Rosalba Reynoso

Like all major IT companies, Blue Trail Software flirts with technology universities to recruit young talents and develop education programs geared towards industry efficiency and innovation. It also looks into the resumes of senior managers to find seasoned minds showing more wisdom regarding IT at large. Thanks to its list of clients and its innovative development model, Blue Trail Software is a multi-generation magnet: the youngsters experience the newtech rush, which is nothing more than the legacy left by the tech veterans who’ve been driving the global tech boom since the 1980s.

«We don’t have rules, we have values» said Rosalba Reynoso to emphasize on the progressive approach of her company. «Empowerment starts with freedom, keeping talents on a leash doesn’t make sense, we let them set the rhythm, we trust them to further develop what we created on a millimetric scale.»