The Computer History Museum (CHM), the world’s leading institution exploring the history of computing and its impact on society, will welcome His Royal Highness (HRH) Prince Philippe of Belgium on Thursday along with a delegation of 25 leading officials and over 20 members of the international press. The Prince will tour the Museum’s permanent exhibition Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing, which incorporates the first major exhibit on the origins of the online world.
A high point of the visit will be the portion of the exhibition dealing with the prehistory of online systems like the Web, including the work of Belgian pioneer Paul Otlet. In the early 20th century Otlet imagined people reading documents onscreen in home workstations, but based on the technologies of his time—paper, microfilm, and early television.
“Otlet’s goals were huge—to create a perfectly organized ‘world brain’ of all knowledge that you could access from your living room. What he actually built was impressive: a kind of paper search engine with over 16 million entries in his pioneering card catalog system, one still used today. Tragically, his larger work was mostly lost until recent decades,, and many of his core concepts reinvented by others.” said Marc Weber, Founder and Curator of the Museum’s Internet History Program.
Weber will describe Otlet’s contribution along with Professor Michael Buckland of the University of California at Berkeley School of Information, a leading Otlet scholar, who was a core advisor on the relevant parts of the Revolution exhibition.
Visiting with the Royal delegation will be Charlotte Dubray, Director of the Mundaneum, the museum in Belgium dedicated to the records of Otlet’s work. His Royal Highness’s visit marks a deepening of the relationship between the two institutions. The Computer History Museum used materials from the Mundaneum in Revolution, and the Mundaneum licensed a Computer History Museum mini-movie “Hypertext Pioneers” for a major new exhibit. The Mundaneum will draw on the Computer History Museum’s unique expertise in the creation of a “European Web Pioneers” gallery to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Web in 2014–2015.
“We are incredibly honored to host Prince Philippe, dignitaries of the Belgian Government and officials of the Mundaneum, including Director Charlotte Dubray,” said John Hollar, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Museum. “We share a deep respect for history, a joint understanding that the history of computing is a worldwide undertaking, and a sense of hope and optimism as we place that history in a forward-looking context.”
The visit is a part of a major Belgian economic mission led by HRH Prince Philippe of Belgium, and includes visits to HP, Cisco, Google, Stanford University, and the Computer History Museum. The delegation is composed of over 20 top national and regional ministers as well as hundreds of business leaders.
The Computer History Museum (CHM) in Mountain View, California is 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, has a four-decade history and is home to the largest international collection of computing artifacts in the world, encompassing computer hardware, software, documentation, ephemera, photographs, and moving images. The Museum’s Internet History Program focuses on the history of the online world, including mobile data.
The Museum brings computer history to life through large-scale exhibits, an acclaimed speaker series, a dynamic website, docent-led tours, and an award-winning education program. The Museum’s signature exhibition is Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing, described by USA Today as “the Valley’s answer to the Smithsonian.” The Web, Networking, and Mobile galleries within the exhibition form one of the first major exhibits on the origins of the online world.
Other current exhibits include Charles Babbage's Difference Engine No. 2, and Going Places: The History of Google Maps with Street View.