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A computer museum is devoted to the study of historic computer hardware and software, where a "museum" is a "permanent institution in the service of society and of its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates, and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment, for the purposes of education, study, and enjoyment", as defined by the International Council of Museums.
Some computer museums exist within larger institutions, such as the Science Museum in London and the Deutsches Museum in Munich. Others, such as the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, the American Computer Museum in Bozeman, Montana, the Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum in Paderborn, The National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park and The Centre for Computing History in Cambridge, Nexon Computer Museum in Jeju Province are dedicated specifically to computing. Some specialize in the early history of computing, others in the era that started with the first personal computers such as the Apple I and Altair 8800, Apple IIs, older Apple Macintoshes, Commodore Internationals, Amigas, IBM PCs and more rare computers such as the Osborne 1. Some concentrate more on research and conservation, others more on education and entertainment. There are also private collections, most of which can be visited by appointment.
The term "museum" has expanded in common usage to encompass online collections, in much the same way other activities have made the transition ("online shopping", "online gallery", etc.). Online museums range in type and quality from those that collate and preserve material to those that simply display photographs of hardware from other sources. They are distinct from traditional museums mainly in that the exhibits can not be physically touched or interacted with in the traditional sense.
Some notable museums and collections are shown below; however this is not a "List of ..." article. For known lists of computer museums or collections see the "See also" section.
- Bitsavers – Extensive software and document archive.
- Bull computer History
- Charles Babbage Institute
- Computer History Museum
- Computermuseum at the University of Stuttgart (Stuttgart, Germany) – Almost all exhibits are functional
- Columbia University Computing History
- Early Office Museum – Bookkeeping, adding, calculating, tabulating machines.
- ENIAC Museum, University of Pennsylvania
- IBM Archives
- Information Processing Society of Japan – IPSJ Computer Museum
- Living Computer Museum – "...provides registered users with the opportunity to telnet into these devices and experience computing on 'antique' mainframes"
- old-computers.com – As of 2006[update], it includes 935 computers, 84 consoles and 98 pongs.
- Russian Virtual Computer Museum
- EveryMac.com – "Established in 1996, EveryMac.com is the complete guide to every Mac, iPod, iPhone, iPad and Mac clone in the world..."
- The Computer Collector
- The Computer Museum, Boston (TCM). Archives of the Computer History Museum
- Virtual Museum of Computing – "...an eclectic collection of links and online resources"
- Videocard virtual museum
- The Apple Museum – A private collection of over 1200 items related to the history of Apple Inc.
- Bugbook Historical Computer Museum (Floyd, Virginia)
- American Computer Museum (Bozeman, Montana) – claims to be the oldest that is currently operating
- Charles Babbage Institute (Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota)
- Computer History Museum (Mountain View, California) – claims to be the largest[where?]
- DigiBarn Computer Museum (Boulder Creek, California)
- iMusée (Montreal, Quebec, Canada)
- Infoage Science/History Learning Center (Camp Evans, New Jersey)
- Intel Museum (Santa Clara, California)
- Living Computer Museum (Seattle, Washington)
- Microsoft Visitor Center (Redmond, Washington) – "...vision, products, culture, and history of Microsoft"
- Old Computer Museum (Massachusetts) – private collection
- Personal Computer Museum (Brantford, Ontario, Canada)
- Rhode Island Computer Museum (North Kingstown, Rhode Island)
- Smithsonian Computer History Collection (Washington DC)
- ComputerMuseum–Muenchen (Munich, Germany) – With a division for Seymour Cray/CDC/Cray Research
- Heinz Nixdorf Museum (Paderborn, Germany) – Claims to be the largest[where?]
- House for the History of IBM Data Processing (Sindelfingen, Germany) – The Sindelfingen museum, housed in a building formerly used for printing IBM cards, closed in August 2012 and the collection was transferred to the IBM laboratory in Böblingen.
- The technikum29 museum (nr. Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany) – A small museum of computer and communications technology that specializes in maintaining and demonstrating equipment in fully working order
- Museo dell'Informatica Funzionante (Sicily, Italy) – Working collection of vintage computers, also on-line. Concentrates on hardware restoration and data-recovery.
- FWT UNESCO Computer Museum (Padova, Italy)
-  (Pisa, Italy) –Museum of Computation Tools
- Museo Interattivo di Archeologia Informatica (Cosenza, Italy)
- Museo del Computer (Camburzano, BL, Italy) – Largest collection in Italy, over 10,000 pieces
- Universiteit van Amsterdam – Computer Museum (The Netherlands)
- Musée Bolo, Switzerland
- Museum of Computing (Swindon, England)
- Retro Computer Museum (Leicestershire, England) – Regular open days and hands-on events.
- The Centre for Computing History (Cambridge, England) – Publicly open museum with hands on retro computing and displays and events
- The Jim Austin Computer Collection (York, England) – A private collection that can be visited by appointment
- The National Museum of Computing (Bletchley Park, England) – A publicly open museum that conserves and exhibits equipment associated with British computer history, with a particular emphasis on running machines
- The UK National Archive for the History of Computing (Manchester, England) – Concentrates on the preservation of historical documents related to computing, rather than on the computers themselves
- Museo de Informática de la República Argentina (Buenos Aires, Argentina) Display and restores home and business computers from mid-1970s onwards.
- Museo de Historia de la Computación (Buenos Aires, Argentina) Temporary exhibitions at the Computing Department of the University of Buenos Aires, with focus on the history of computing (software techniques and algorithms, not computer hardware)
- Nexon Computer Museum (Jeju Province, South Korea) Concentrates on the history of computers and video games
- IPSJ Computer Museum (Tokyo, Japan)
- Lists of Computer museums
- Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum's extensive links for the history of computers and technology
- Category:Computer museums
- List of science museums
- The Computer Collector: listing of collections, museums, historical information
- Computer Conservation Society (UK)
- History of computer hardware
- IT History Society
- KansasFest annual event for Apple II computer enthusiasts. Held every July at Rockhurst University, Kansas City, Missouri.
- SIMH A highly portable, multi-system emulator.
- The Computer Museum, Boston Closed, of historic interest
- Vintage Computer Festival held annually in Mountain View, California, and elsewhere
- Bell, Gordon (2011). Out of a Closet: The Early Years of the Computer Museums. Microsoft Technical Report MSR-TR-2011-44.
- Bruemmer, Bruce H. (1987). Resources for the History of Computing: A Guide to U.S. & Canadian Records. Charles Babbage Institute.
- Cortada, James W. (1990). Archives of Data-Processing History: A Guide to Major U.S. Collections. Greenwood
Notes and references
- "ICOM Statutes". International Council of Museums. Retrieved 2008-04-05.
- History galore at IBM Museum