On January 28, the Computer History Museum will open its newest exhibition “Make Software: Change the World!” The $7 million, 6,000-square-foot exhibition explores how the lives of people everywhere have been transformed by software. Structured around three areas of transformation – Life and Death, Perception and Reality, and Knowledge and Belonging – the exhibition is designed for middle schoolers, families, and adults and features multimedia and touchscreen interactives, including the Stata Family Software Lab where visitors can explore coding hands-on.
The exhibition is part of the Museum’s new “Transformation Age” strategy, which goes beyond history to explore the sweeping transformation brought about by computing and implications for the future. In a 2016 study by the Pew Research Center, Americans ranked the tech revolution as the third most significant event of their lifetimes – higher than the JFK assassination, Vietnam War and the moon landing. The velocity and scope of this transformation mean government, business, and society will need to be re-thought. In an increasingly digital society, we all need to understand our rapidly transforming environment. The authoritative and objective perspective of the Museum can guide that understanding.
“From our vantage point in the heart of Silicon Valley, the Computer History Museum is the major institution in the world attempting to work out the meaning of this ongoing era of transformation – to identify, preserve and present it even as the forces of change shape events in real time,” said John C. Hollar, the Museum’s president and chief executive officer. “We collect, exhibit, educate, publish and story-tell for a singular purpose: We seek to enhance understanding of this modern-day transformation.”
The Museum’s Transformation Age strategy is funded by a $30 million, multi-year campaign. The Museum has raised $18.5 million toward that goal. The strategy has three initiatives – Transformation Explained, Transformation Explored, and Transformation Preserved – all of which are designed to connect the dots between the past and the future.
- Exponential Center, opened in 2016, is designed for entrepreneurs and those who support them. Entrepreneurs and computing go hand in hand. Across the world, people want to understand why that is, how it happens, what is special about the way it works in Silicon Valley, and how past innovation connects to the future. The Exponential Center, supported by an advisory board with some of the leading innovators and investors in Silicon Valley, will capture and preserve that history and make those forward-looking connections.
- Software History Center, designed primarily for historians, academics and researchers is a $20 million center that leverages the Museum’s extensive collections to understand and tell the story of software, preserving this history for posterity. This center will house the Museum’s growing collection of source code.
- Education Center, scheduled to open in 2017, is designed for families, educators and students of all ages. This IDEO designed center extends the Museum’s award-winning education programs that explore not only the “what” but also the “why” and the “how” of computing and encourages visitors to think critically about how technology is changing our lives.
- Exhibits. In addition to the “Make Software: Change the World!” exhibition, the Museum presents a range of exhibits that explore the Transformation Age. • “Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing” is a 25,000-square-foot exhibition, featuring 19 galleries, 1,100 objects and an array of original multimedia experiences that chronicles the history of computing on a global scale.
- “Where To? A History of Autonomous Vehicles” explores the decades-long challenge of bringing self-driving cars to the public.
- “Thinking Big: Ada, Countess of Lovelace” presents the remarkable life of English mathematician and visionary Ada Lovelace.
- “Fairchild, Fairchildren, and the Family Tree of Silicon Valley” celebrates the legacy of Fairchild Semiconductor, the company that spawned hundreds of ventures that established Silicon Valley as a world center of entrepreneurial activity and technological leadership.
- CHM Live. A speaker series designed for a broad audience curious about the evolution of computing and its role in our lives. Past speakers have included Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Paul Allen, and Eric Schmidt. Future areas of exploration are cyberwarfare, artificial intelligence, medicine, digital currency and entertainment & gaming.
- Shustek Center, designed for scholars and historians. The Shustek Center is a $4 million, 50,000-square-foot research center, named for Museum’s Chairman of the Board Len Shustek. The Shustek Center, including a new software preservation lab, will anchor the Museum’s expanding research agenda and house our large and rapidly expanding collection of digital assets.
- Cisco Archive Project. This groundbreaking collaboration with Cisco Systems taps into the Museum's extensive experience in computing history and archive management to preserve and reveal Cisco's significant role in shaping the Internet.
About the Computer History Museum
The Computer History Museum 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 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.” Other current exhibits include the “IBM 1401 Demo Lab,” “PDP-1 Demo Lab,” and “Where To? A History of Autonomous Vehicles.”