Computer History Museum

A stay in the Silicon Valley would be incomplete without a visit to the Computer History Museum. With that in mind, I visited the museum on the Memorial Day weekend, and boy am I glad I visited it!

The museum houses several exhibits that document the origins and advents of computers right from the time of abacus and mechanical calculators. The exhibits then progress to super-computers with thousands of wires manually connected to thousands of components. It then progresses to Eniacs and mainframes to the current-day technology.  As a technical writer, the coolest exhibit was the technical notes dating back to 1959, which captured the logic and rationale of the engineers at Texas Instruments.

The audio-visual commentary explaining each exhibit, the interactive design that lets you can play with the abacus and Napier’s bones and other cool stuff, and the ancient artifacts all come together to create a mesmerizing experience. All the things that you read about in Electronics textbooks come to life when you see them, touch them, and marvel at them. The evolution of the computers from the gigantic mainframes and chaos of thousands of wires to the elegant technology of today is truly mind-blowing.

Equally impressive are the brilliant minds who made it all possible. I couldn’t help but feel a bit useless and dumb when I realized the marvels these folks created when they had absolutely no resources, and the things I waste my time on even with all the resources at my fingertips. But I am also glad to live in an age where I have the marvelous technology at my beck-and-call.

I would urge anyone coming to the Silicon Valley to visit the Computer History Museum at least once, though you might be tempted to go back again just to soak it all in. I am sure I will be visiting it again soon!


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