The Computer Museum

The Computer Museum when it resided in Boston - photos from TCM website.  Gordon's photo from his website.

This update on The Computer Museum - Alive and Well -  is from Gordon Bell on 2/24/2015.

Dear DECconnection Members and Friends,

As a founder (with Ken Olsen and Gwen Bell) of The Computer Museum, that started in Marlborough, and moved to Boston, TCM is alive, well and growing at:  http://tcm.computerhistory.org/


An article on the history of TCM is at http://tcm.computerhistory.org/outoftheclosetV2.3.pdf  and attached (download pdf).

An overview of the galleries aka rooms as a guide on how to visit TCM is at http://tcm.computerhistory.org/ClickTour.pdf


The http://TCM.ComputerHistory.org is a cybermuseum providing accessibility to all aspects of The Computer Museum in Boston (c1979-2000).

A visitor can walk along the timeline as a guide to:

· View and attend a lecture e.g. the first ones by JV Atanasoff, the inventor of the Atanasoff-Berry Computer

Or hear what the first useful stored program computer was and how it was programmed by Prof. Maurice V. Wilkes, of Cambridge U.

Or listen to Bob Noyce explain the first integrated circuit invention at the opening of TCM, Boston in 1984

Or a talk by me on The Computer Pioneers in the Videos room http://tcm.computerhistory.org/videos.html

· Replay or recall the East-West Computer Bowls over their 10 year history.


View all the book of questions from this 1988-98 era when the web was born at


· Visit the physical exhibits that were at TCM

The large scale walk-through computer can be revisited with a guide:

Computer Chronicles toured TCM, Marlboro, MA in 1983  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBNft6RAijg

· The Museum Catalog (namely what are the museum’s holdings) as a publication.


 Ed Thelen scanned the original http://ed-thelen.org/comp-hist/1981Catalog.html


 A Museum Catalog is itself an artifact of 20th century museums before search. The catalog was eventually published in the Reports (see 400 page compendium of all the reports)

· View all the documents that described the Museum in roughly 350 scanned files: Reports, Annual Reports with ISDNs, http://tcm.computerhistory.org/reports.html

Posters announcing the lectures and pioneers, store catalogs, Timeline Posters and Product Trees, flyers, awards, PR releases, and more.

· Pioneer Computers Room holds all the computers that were at TCM including documents, photos, stories, etc.

· Backroom look at artifacts

· Back Office working files used for design etc. All the available scanned files including deliberation and sounds of gnashing of the teeth especially all the correspondence of Gordon Bell asking for support


Note some of the 30+ year ago, 1984 Asks (Begs (include Brook Byers, Ed DeCastro, Bill Gates, Bernie Gordon, Regis McKenna, Heinz Nixdorf, Max Palevsky, Tom Perkins, Bill Perry, John Pierce, Ben Rosen, Al Shughart and many more).
· Governance files of BOD, etc. especially later ones from Gardner Hendrie’s period as Chairman that he had retained.
· A BLOG (TBD) Participate in a blog e.g. comments by former board members, comments re. particular artifacts, talks, etc.

The Computer Museum Archive website is a place to view all the extent material of The Computer Museum whereby one can go immediately to an exhibit, event, etc. and 350+ files that is part of CHM: http://tcm.computerhistory.org/

For the historian, downloading the Museum Reports, 1979-1988 and Annual Reports 1988-1998 describe the events from the opening in 1975 at Digital and in Marlborough MA, though the museum’s move to Boston and eventually to Mountain View’s Moffett Field, CA.

It is a work in progress that will continue to evolve and hopefully attract more content. However with all the files and publications, there is value for history.

The timeline is the best way to visit TCM
Note the 1000 x 15,000 pixels timeline on the site chronicling events and exhibits http://tcm.computerhistory.org/Timeline/timeline7draft.htm

The goal is to be able to traverse it and to see and hear content of those days. You have to look at the items and then use some imagination but eventually all will be hot linked to something interesting to see/hear! We will be experimenting with wider, deeper, and different timelines ­ this one was events that were rendered from XLSX.

CHM has a few links to enable the TCM part of the museum to be found http://www.computerhistory.org/chmhistory/.

The Computer Museum, Boston on Wikipedia has a nice story of TCM.

Oliver Strimpel used archived items and made a really complete and compelling story of TCM on Wikipedia.

The site is beginning to fulfill a view of a Cyber Museums being a dusty place that you might want (some else) to visit.

The particular joy of this site is that it is an experiment… so if you have something that you believe someone else associated with TCM will want, we’ll host it.
Gordon Bell.
Researcher Emeritus, Microsoft Research
Office: 835 Market St. Suite 700; San Francisco 94103




     for a visit to The Computer Museum in cyberspace

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