The Computer History Museum (CHM) today announced that acclaimed journalist John Markoff, long-time technology writer for The New York Times and winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize, will join the Museum’s staff as a historian in January 2017.
Markoff is internationally recognized for his in-depth reporting and expertise in technology and science, having covered both subjects for nearly three decades. In his new role at the Museum, he will focus on writing, research, and moderating live programming.
“John Markoff has been one of the leading writers and thinkers exploring the impact of computing on our lives and the implications for society in the future,” said John C. Hollar, the Museum’s president and chief executive officer. “We’re delighted to welcome him as he continues this work, and his accomplished career, as a historian, writer and event host.”
In this newly created position at the Museum, Markoff will research and write about both historic and current topics in computing, including artificial intelligence. An early project will be his third book, a biography of Stewart Brand and a cultural history of Northern California during the heyday of Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog. Markoff also will take an active role as an interviewer for the Museum’s CHM Live speaker series, continuing a role he has long played as a moderator and a speaker for the Museum’s live programming. Additionally, Markoff will conduct in-depth interviews for the Museum’s landmark oral history collection, which now numbers more than 800 interviews.
A Bay Area native, Markoff joined The New York Times in March 1988 as a reporter for its business section before writing exclusively about technology and, more recently, science. Prior to his near 30-year tenure at The Times, Markoff was a reporter for San Francisco’s Pacific News Service from 1977 to 1981 and wrote a column on personal computing for The San Jose Mercury News from 1983 to 1985. He was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize multiple times before winning in 2013 for reporting on the impact of technology on labor and automation. Markoff has written two books that offer a unique perspective on computer history, including “What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry” in 2005 and “Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground between Humans and Robots” in 2015.
”As a reporter I found the Computer History Museum became both a lively and instrumental part of Silicon Valley's ecosystem,” said Markoff. “I am looking forward to being part of an institution that is building a living record of one of the most remarkable places in the world.”
Markoff joins an extensive interpretive team at CHM, including curators, educators, exhibit designers, and media producers. His appointment is part of a major expansion underway at CHM, beginning earlier this year with the launch of its Exponential Center, a new center dedicated to entrepreneurship and innovation. In January 2017, the Museum will open a major exhibition on the history and impact of software, followed by the opening of a new center dedicated to the Museum’s vast collection of historic source code. In mid-2017, the Museum will reveal its first dedicated education space, a place for learners of all ages – students, families and executives – to engage with computing and technology.
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.”