Models and parts of a UNIVAC system on display at the Computer History Museum.

Whether you are a computer enthusiast or historian, a visit to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California is definitely a must. This museum is home to the world’s largest collection of computing artifacts and features interactive exhibits that take you on a journey through the history of computing.

Pieces and scale models of the ENIAC on display.
The Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) was the first large-scale computer run at electronic speed. This room-sized computer was built between 1943 and 1945 without mechanical parts to slow it down.
Models and parts of a UNIVAC system on display at the Computer History Museum.
Universal Automatic Computer (UNIVAC) System was a versatile, general-purpose computer that was first released in 1951.

About the Computer History Museum

The Computer History Museum is a museum located in Mountain View, California, dedicated to the preservation and exhibition of computer-related history. The museum contains one of the world’s largest collection of computing artifacts, from early abaci to modern-day supercomputers, military encryption machines to home entertainment consoles.

The museum offers visitors a journey through the history of computing, from the earliest mechanical devices to the first electronic computers. The museum’s interactive exhibits allow visitors to experience the history of computing first-hand, through hands-on activities and demonstrations.

Whether you are a fan of computer history or just looking for a unique museum to visit, the Computer History Museum is definitely worth a visit. Computer enthusiasts and historians alike will find something to interest them

Close-up view of a Babbage Machine replica on display.
A recreation of the Babbage Machine.
Male manikin entering a stack of punchcards into a punch card sorter.
IBM’s Type 80 punch card sorter (1925)
Gallery of historic abacus and other computing tools on display.
Early computing tools such as the abacus.
Display of early punch cards, machine, and other early data records.
Punch cards, an early form of data entry are first used in America’s 1980 census and enable a comprehensive scientific census half a century later.
Replica of a Hollerith Electric Tabulating System on display in the Computer History Museum.
Hollerith Electric Tabulating System (1981) built for the United States 1890 census.

Exhibits at the Computer History Museum

The Computer History Museum is home to a variety of exhibits that document the history of computing. Some of the museum’s most popular exhibits include:

  • The Revolution exhibit chronicles the history of computing from the abacus to the smartphone. In this exhibit of 19 galleries, 1,100 objects include a Babbage engine, Enigma Machine, ENIAC, and Kray supercomputer. Experience an array of original multimedia experiences featuring first-hand accounts from pioneers and innovators.
  • The Gallery of Vintage Computing, which displays early computers and peripherals
  • The Time Tunnel takes visitors on a journey through the history of timekeeping and time management.
  • The Computer History Museum Theater screens films about the history of computing
  • The Making of the Internet exhibit, which details the development of the Internet
ENIGMA cipher machine on display.
ENIGMA cipher machine ca. 1935 was used by the German military in WWII to encrypt messages.
Nordsiech Differential Analyzer on display.
The Nordsiech Differential Analyzer was constructed in 1950 using $700 of World War II surplus supplies. It distinguished itself from past differential analyzers with its compact size, cheap construction, and use of electrical connections.

Visiting the Computer History Museum

The Computer History Museum is located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Mountain View, California, and less than a mile from Google’s global headquarters. The museum is open from 10 am to 5 pm, Wednesday through Sunday. Admission is $17.50 for adults, $13.50 for seniors (65 and over), $13.50 for students (with ID), and free for children under 8.

To get to the History Museum, take the 101 freeway to the Shoreline exit. Turn north onto Shoreline Boulevard. The museum is located at 1401 N Shoreline Boulevard, Mountain View, CA 94043, less than a block from the 101 exit.

For more information on the Computer History Museum, or to plan your visit, please visit their website at:

Exhibit on the evolution of Cray Computers, including a Cray-1 at the Computer History Museum
Cray Computers, founded by Seymour Cray in 1972, produced groundbreaking supercomputers critical for commercial and government operations.
Close up view of a Altair 8800 Computer on display.
At under $500, the Altair 8800 Computer was the leading “homebrew” computer in 1975.
Space Invaders poster and assorted Atari consoles on display.
Video game consoles such as the Atari bring a new form of media to the home entertainment market.

Parking information

The Computer History Museum offers free parking for visitors at their on-site parking lot including Tesla charging stations.

Display on the evolution of smaller computers.
Room-sized computers relegated large-scale processing to only a few. But advances in smaller computers bring computing to a broader user-ship.
Collection of desktop and slightly larger computers on display.
Smaller and more versatile computers begin serving broader market segments.

Our Experience

We spent the better part of a day exploring the Computer History Museum and could easily have spent more time analyzing each display. There’s a hearty dose of nostalgia to be found, in reviewing vintage video games, early electronic music, and the early days of the internet.

As software developers, we became a little distracted by the map of computer languages over time. It’s a veritable family tree that we can superimpose our own experiences of the first language each of us learned (C and Pascal), the languages that defined our professional careers, and those that we would not want to touch with a ten-foot pole.

The Computer History Museum is worth a visit, however you choose to explore. But if you have any friends or family that have worked in this field, it is a delight to experience how the displays spark new memories that you may have never heard about. While our personal experiences are mainly in software, we were lucky to walk through the exhibits with friends who had worked at Hewlett Packard and Kray Computers. The stories and lectures that displays sparked were a delight for us all.

That said, there isn’t a wrong way to visit the Computer History Museum. Bring a friend or just yourself. The museum has enough to offer on its own. So hop on down to Mountain View.

Mobile computers on display at the Computer History Museum
Computers leave the office and become mobile. Behemoth (Big Electronic Human Energized Machine, Only Too Heavy) a 1989 vehicle by Steve Robers dominates the display.
Working IBM1401 Data Processing System on display in the Computer History Museum Demo Lab
Docents demonstrate a working 1960s-era IBM1401 Data Processing System in the Demo Lab

Lexi lives in a truck camper down by the river.

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