The Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, U.S., is a nonprofit organization with a four-decade history as the world’s leading institution exploring the history of computing and its ongoing impact on society. The Museum is dedicated to the preservation and celebration of computer history and is home to the largest international collection of computing artifacts in the world, encompassing computer hardware, software, documentation, ephemera, photographs, oral histories, and moving images.
The Museum brings computer history to life through large-scale exhibits, an acclaimed speaker series, a dynamic website, docent-led tours and education program. The Museum seeks to preserve a comprehensive view of computing history, one that includes the machines, software, business and competitive environments, personal recollections, and social implications of one of humankind’s most important invention – the Computer.
The Gwen Bell Artifact and Book Collection comprises written works and physical objects relating to early calculating instruments and methods. These works and objects are held in the permanent collection of the Computer History Museum after generous gifts in 2012 and 2014 by Museum co-founders Gwen and Gordon Bell. The text items in this collection comprise works written in French, German, Latin and English. It begins in the early 17th century (ending in about 1980) and includes dozens of works such as mathematical, accounting, farming, astronomy, merchant and engineering tables, monographs on slide rules, arithmometers, planimeters, sectors, Napier´s Bones, military compasses, telescopes, as well as later-day commentaries on these instruments and their history. The written works are available online in scanned (PDF) form.
The object collection was established as a complement to the rare book collection and both serve to document the early origins and development of human measurement and computation. Its objects include: abaci, sectors, linear, circular and cylindrical slide rules, mechanical and electrical/electronic adding machines and calculators, and replicas of early calculators such as the Pascaline and the Schikard. With both written sources and complementary physical objects, the Bell Collection offers a unique window into the early origins and development of history´s most significant calculating devices and methods.
The Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing exhibition presents the history of computing, from mysterious ancient devices, like the traditional chinese SUAN PAN ABACUS to technologies of the future, like the cloud-based network-attached storage solutions for online backup. You can take a virtual tour through 19 galleries, each dedicated to a different aspect of computing. You can discover the backstories, development drama and astonishing breakthroughs of the gadgets, gurus, and the biggest computer companies in the world.
The Timeline of Computer History presents the memory and storage history, starting from 1947 and the Williams-Kilburn tube – the first high-speed, entirely electronic memory. Throughout the magnetic memory, the magnetic tape, the concept of virtual memory, first small and minicomputers, memory chip and mass storage system, we are getting near to the present computer memory storages: the flash drives, the Blu-ray optical discs, the cloud-based services and the dropbox.