Computer History Museum Launches New Exhibit on Google Street View

Mountain View, California  |  June 23, 2012

The Computer History Museum (CHM), the world’s leading institution exploring the history of computing and its ongoing impact on society, today announced the launch of a new exhibit on the history of Google Maps with Street View and other “surrogate travel” systems.

Called “Going Places: A History of Google Maps with Street View”, the exhibit shows how street views have transformed our ideas about going places, from faraway lands to a restaurant across town. While computerized “movie maps” go back 35 years, today’s connected computer power is turning tools that were once the province of artists and visionaries into a part of everyday life.

Visitors will get to sit inside a Street View camera car and pedal a camera trike to activate their own big-screen tour. They’ll also hear behind the scenes stories from the Google Street view team and see footage of vintage views, including a fateful tour of Market Street just days before the 1906 earthquake and MIT’s groundbreaking Aspen Interactive Movie Map project from 1978. The exhibit shows how camera cars work, examines social impacts from privacy to tourism, and speculates about what the armchair traveler may see 35 years from now.

“We’re the first generation to have casual access to the old dream of ‘surrogate travel’”, said Marc Weber, founding curator of the Museum’s Internet History Program. “Street views let us check out a friend’s new house, or more safely rebuild a city after a disaster. Artists and filmmakers have long tried to immerse viewers in distant scenes, from cave paintings to early 3D movies. We wanted to trace how computers made this process interactive, with the groundbreaking movie maps of the 1970s, and how the modern Web let companies like Google scale it up to become so useful we can take it for granted”.

This exhibit was made possible through the generosity of Google, Inc.

About the Computer History Museum

The Computer History Museum (CHM) in Mountain View, California 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 and moving images.

The Museum brings computer history to life through an acclaimed speaker series, dynamic website, docent-led tours and online exhibits. 

The Museum’s signature exhibit on the history of computing is “Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing.”  Other exhibits include “Charles Babbage's Difference Engine No. 2,” “Mastering the Game: A History of Computer Chess,” and “An Analog Life: Remembering Jim Williams.”   

For more information and updates, call (650) 810-1059, visit, check us out on Facebook, and follow @computerhistory on Twitter.

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