The Computer History Museum, the world's largest institution dedicated to preserving and presenting the artifacts and stories of the Information Age, announced today that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation — the charitable foundation of Bill Gates, founder, chairman and chief software architect of Microsoft Corporation, and his wife, Melinda — has pledged a $15 million gift to the Computer History Museum Campaign.
Including this new gift, the Silicon Valley-based museum has currently raised over $73 million toward its $125 million goal to create a full range of educational programs and exhibits and to establish a long-term endowment.
The Gates Foundation gift is the museum's largest to date and will be applied to expanding its endowment, accelerating its current operations through a matching grant to generate greater community support, and creating a "Timeline of Computing History," an interactive exhibit that will trace more than 800 years of the computing revolution and its impact on the human experience. In recognition of the Gates Foundation gift, the "Timeline of Computing History" gallery will be designated in Gates' honor.
"The impact on our society of the computing revolution is simply breathtaking -- it has changed the way we work, play, learn, and communicate. It's our responsibility to collect the artifacts and stories today that will explain this incredible change to future generations. I believe that the Computer History Museum is uniquely positioned to do this, and Melinda and I are pleased to join other industry leaders to offer our support," Gates said.
"We want to thank Bill and Melinda Gates for their generosity, as it will play a crucial role in helping us to realize the museum's vision," said Len Shustek, chairman of the board of the Computer History Museum. "We are grateful that they share our belief that we owe it to ourselves as participants, and to future generations as the beneficiaries, to preserve and tell how the information revolution came to be."According to John Toole, executive director and CEO of the Computer History Museum, "The Gates' generous gift has provided an unprecedented opportunity to build more rapidly toward a full complement of programs and exhibits, and fulfill our destiny as a significant and unique cultural resource."
Gates, who began his interest in software and programming computers at age 13, went on to found Microsoft in 1975. Microsoft now ranks as the world's leading software company with revenues of $36.84 billion and more than 55,000 employees in 85 countries and regions. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was created in January 2000 and is committed to promoting greater equity in global health, education, public libraries, and support for at-risk families in Washington state and Oregon.
The Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, a public benefit organization, preserves and presents for posterity the artifacts and stories of the information age. Dedicated to exploring the social impact of computing, the museum is home to the world's largest collection of computing-related items, spanning the decades from pre-computing objects, to semiconductors, hardware, software, computer graphics systems, games, networking, robots, the Internet, and much more. Its growing collection also includes photos, films, videos, manuals, documents, publications, and marketing materials.
Currently in its first phase, the Museum brings computing history to life through its popular speaker series, seminars, oral histories, workshops and Web-based educational resources for students, scholars and the general public. The Museum also offers self-guided and docent-led tours of Visible Storage, where nearly 600 objects from the collection are on display, including such rare objects as the Cray-1 supercomputer, the Apple I, the WWII ENIGMA, the PalmPilot prototype, and the 1969 Honeywell "Kitchen Computer." A new exhibit, "Mastering The Game: A History of Computer Chess," opened in September 2005, providing an exciting, interactive look at 50 years of innovation and work in computing. Please check the Web site for open hours.
Future phases will feature full museum exhibits including a timeline of computing history, theme galleries, extensive Web-based exhibits and collection-related information, expanded education programs, a research center, and much more. For more information, please visit www.computerhistory.org or call 650.810.1010.