During a recent trip to Bozeman, MT (I know, but it was for the kids so we had to) I stumbled upon the American Computer & Robotics Museum. At first I thought, “Well maybe they have a display on how to count in binary or an old IBM-XT that we can show the kids.” Well, I was not truly prepared for what I saw.
You have to understand, this is in a small industrial/office complex near Montana State University. Granted, MSU which houses the Museum of the Rockies and holds one of the most magnificent large fossil collections in the world (translation = DINOSAURS!), but I really wasn’t prepared for what I saw. So what did I see?
The opening is simple and non-descript, almost like walking into a dentist’s office and then you turn the corner. In front of me were Akkadian tablets, a casting of the Antikythera Mechanism with recreation, and an example of the first digital relay (made by the man himself). Behind me were a plethora of machines from a Guttenberg press to a PDP-8.
The Museum also had some extremely interesting Apollo units as well such as this Univac which is the last surviving Apollo Mainframe.
Also, this Apollo on-board computer. It’s amazing that they landed on the moon with this equipment.
The current traveling display is of Women in Computing and makes for wonderful reading and learning.
What about the ROBOTS? There were a few robots there but not many as it looks as that is an area that is something they are working on. This is obviously an active and living museum as all of the exhibits are well maintained and kept up to date. There was an excellent section on quantum computers (of course I guess you could say there is and isn’t and you would be correct there too 🙂 )and too many other bits and pieces in the museum to even mention.
I can’t express enough how great of a museum it is and it doesn’t take long to go through (and admission is based on donations so give generously). IT IS worth going to Bozeman MT if you only stop in and see these two museums. You will not be disappointed.
You can find the American Computer and Robotics Museum here: http://www.compustory.com/
And yes, I assume you will still want to see dinosaurs a half mile down the street, but here’s a taste.