Looking to entertain family and friends with a different kind of tech experience than your Xbox Kinect or AppleTV? Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen officially opened the Living Computer Museum in Seattle on Oct. 25, 2012, but the journey back through time will transport you and yours much futher.
The Living Computer Museum collection presents the meaningful milestones in the evolution of computers and how people use them. The collection was assembled by Microsoft cofounder Allen as a way to preserve the history that put him and Bill Gates on the path to founding the company. Unlike many museums, the LCM collection includes computers and equipment that are painstakingly restored and in fully useable condition. These systems live – they respond to you in ways that foreshadow the digital miracles often taken for granted today.
Depending on your age, you are almost guaranteed to see the first personal computer you ever touched – the Radio Shack TRS-80 or an early Apple.
One of the oldest specimens is a PDP-7 made by Digital Equipment Corporation. It’s the size of an office cubicle and was designed in the mid-1960s to do just one operation in a physics lab at the University of Oregon. The curators believe it is the only working model of this machine in the world.
Displays throughout the small museum explain how much computers have evolved in the past 50 years and feature some amusing old photographs, including one shot of Allen sitting at a keyboard with a young Bill Gates looking over his shoulder.
People can visit the museum and access some of its computers virtually by requesting a login on the facility’s website. http://www.livingcomputermuseum.org/
Among the museum staff’s plans for the future are a special tour focused on the history of Microsoft and a lab where visitors can interface with some of the older machines. All the equipment is from Allen’s personal collection and the people who run the museum say the high-tech billionaire is committed to putting more cash into building his collection for both educational and nostalgic value.
LIVING COMPUTER MUSEUM: 2245 First Ave. S., Seattle, http://www.livingcomputermuseum.org. Open Thursday, noon-8 p.m.; Friday, noon-5 p.m.; Saturday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Adults, $5; students, seniors, active military, $2; children 12 and under, free. [24×7]