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The Computer Museum was a Boston, Massachusetts, museum that opened in 1979 and operated in three different locations until 1999. It was once referred to as TCM and is sometimes called the Boston Computer Museum. Building 12 in Maynard, Massachusetts.
In September 1979, with the assistance of Digital Equipment Corporation, Gordon and Gwen Bell founded the Digital Computer Museum in a former RCA building in Marlboro, Massachusetts. Though entirely funded by DEC and housed within a corporate facility, from its inception the Museum’s activities were ecumenical, with an industry-wide, international preservation mission. In spring 1982, the Museum received non-profit charitable foundation status from the Internal Revenue Service.
In Fall 1983, the Computer Museum, which had dropped “Digital” from its title, decided to relocate to Museum Wharf in downtown Boston, sharing a renovated wool warehouse with Boston Children’s Museum. Oliver Strimpel, recruited from the Science Museum in London, was appointed to develop a major exhibit on computer graphics and image processing, later being appointed Executive Director in 1990. Downtown Boston from The Computer Museum elevator. On November 13, 1984, the Museum officially re-opened to the public at its new 53,00 square foot location.
The initial set of exhibits featured the pioneering Whirlwind Computer, the SAGE computer room, an evolutionary series of computers built by Seymour Cray, and a 20-year timeline of computing developments that included many artifacts collected by Gordon Bell. Also among the opening exhibits was a permanent gallery devoted to the history, technology, and applications of digital imaging entitled The Computer and the Image.
While the majority of the Museum’s energies and funding were focused on the growing exhibitions and educational programs, the resources available for the historical collections remained flat. Though active collection of artifacts continued, there was a lack of suitable collections storage and study space. Furthermore, with the inexorable shift of the U.
Boston to the West Coast, the Museum’s Boston location became a handicap from the point of view of collecting as well as industry support. In 1996, a group of Computer Museum Board members established a division of the Museum in Silicon Valley exclusively devoted to collecting and preserving the history of computing. First called The Computer Museum History Center, it was housed in a storage building near Hangar One at Moffett Field, California.
In 2001, it changed its name to the Computer History Museum and acquired its own building in Mountain View, California, in 2002. In 1999, the museum merged with the Museum of Science, Boston. When the Museum closed as an independent entity in 2000, a few artifacts were moved to the Museum of Science for eventual exhibits.
The historical artifact collection was sent to the Computer History Museum forming the base of the museum’s collection. An extensive archive of Computer Museum documents and videos of the history of the Museum, formative memos at Digital Equipment Corporation and other materials was compiled by Gordon Bell and is now maintained by The Computer History Museum.