Computer Museum

Overview Since computers were first widely recognized as an important technology in the mid-twentieth century, the computer market has exploded. A dizzying variety of PCs has already come and gone since the 1980s, not to mention the broad range of minicomputers and mainframes that have also been produced. As computer technology continues to change at a rapid pace, many models of computers become obsolete and forgotten. In order to preserve and remember obsolete technology, many computer museums--both virtual and real--have come into existence.

Computer History Resources To fully appreciate a computer museum and its contents, it’s helpful to have an understanding of the history of computers. Even though computers have only been in existence for the last 60 years, a vast range have been designed, constructed, employed, and retired. Visit the Jones Telecommunications & Multimedia Encyclopedia to read their brief but informative article, “Computers: History and Development.” Timelines of computer history are also useful for gaining a perspective of the types of computers that were designed during a specific period. Visit either www.computerhistory.org/ or www.ox.compsoc.net/  to view computer development timelines. These sites also cover the history of the development of microprocessors, PCs, and specific computer manufacturing companies. Be sure to visit this Google Directory page, which provides links to Web sites dedicated to the history of computer hardware.

Online Computer Museums Most computer museums are Web sites that present information and photos of a selection of obsolete computers. However, some computer museums provide physical exhibits, as well as a virtual version. Seeing these old computers up close provides you with a superior viewing perspective, but for those of us not lucky enough to live near a computer museum, taking a virtual tour provides plenty of detail. The following is a list of links to computer museum Web sites, both real and virtual. You may even see a computer or two that you have used in the past!

Additional Links Video game consoles are newer than PCs. Because of their popularity, and the rate of technological advancements, there are many  virtual museums devoted to game consoles. Check out www.classicgaming.com/ or www.pbs.org/kcts/videogamerevolution/ to take a look at the predecessors of today's consoles. One of the most recent adaptations of computers is the “pocket PC.” Also called “handheld computers,” these devices also have undergone several stages of development. Visit the Pocket Computer Museum (pocket.free.fr/) to see the predecessors of today’s handheld devices.