Archive: Computer Collector Newsletter / Technology Rewind, Jan. 2004 - March 2006
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Potential home located for San Diego museum; CHM gets $15M
by Evan Koblentz
There is finally some good news about the San Diego Computer Museum, left nearly homeless after its host facility announced early this year its intention to terminate the museum lease sooner than expected.
"There's not much of anything sure to report, but I am waiting, hopefully, positively, from one of the local universities to help us out. I'm not sure if they will or not but there's a really good possibility," curator David Weil told us today.
Weil declined to name the new university partner since negotiations are ongoing. "I'll know in another week or two," he said.
Good news also came from Coleman College, where the current museum facility resides. They're letting SDCM keep its collection on-site a bit longer than expected. SDCM also expects to obtain its renewed federal non-profit certification by the middle of November; they already have a state certification. The renewal was necessary because of the name change, Weil explained.
But the museum still needs public support. The new university deal is hardly gauranteed and, if it doesn't happen, then then museum collections will go into storage indefinitely until a new home is found. Weil hopes to remain in southern California, but previously said he will consider all opportunities.
Anyone who can offer help should contact Weil immediately at 619-889-8226 or email@example.com, or visit the museum's web site at http://www.computer-museum.org for more details.
Meanwhile, in Silicon Valley, the Computer History Museum announced a $15 million gift today from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (http://www.gatesfoundation.org/default.htm).
CHM is the largest computer museum in the nation. The new funds put its endowment at about $73 million toward the goal of raising $125 million, partially to build an interactive timeline exhibit named for Gates. The goal is to finish by 2009, spokesman Steven Brewster said. Gates' public profile should help attract other sponsors, he added.
Gates' company, Microsoft, already operates a small museum and visitor center at its Redmond, Wash. headquarters. But unlike that project (http://www.microsoft.com/visitorcenter/default.mspx), the CHM project shouldn't be too Microsoft-centric, even though Microsoft has played a major role in the past 30 years of computer history, Brewster noted. CHM's web site is http://www.computerhistory.org.
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has his own project, the Microcomputer Gallery at the New Mexicon Museum of Natural History & Science (http://www.nmmnh-abq.mus.nm.us/nmmnh/exh_computer.html). Albuquerque was the location of Microsoft's first home in 1974. That project was announced last fall and is still under construction. We hope to report on their progress and collection in next week's issue.
So many hobbyists are probably wondering: with three hands in the jar, is Microsoft trying to positively spin its role in recorded history? Should the Gates foundation fund more, smaller museums instead, since everyone can't visit northern California?
"We applaud them for getting involved with different organizations. Even though we think we are positioned to be the mothership for this movement, we think each organization is doing a commendable job moving forward," Brewster said.
Here at CCN, our "Guide to U.S. Computer Museums, 2005 Edition" recently sold out, so we can vouch for hobbyists' increasing interest in such museum efforts. To do our part, the 2006 edition will be online-only as part of a larger project which we'll announce soon.
What's your opinion of the state of U.S. computer museums?