ROSWELL, Ga. – In conjunction with the second annual Vintage Computer Festival Southeast, Roswell will play host to a new computer-themed exhibit.
Titled “LINK – Personal Computing from Switches to Pockets,” the exhibit details how far computing has come, from building-sized calculators to smartphones, in just 50 years.
Held in the Apple Pop Up Museum, “LINK” brings the visitor into the interactive side of computing. Using projections and monitors, visitors can become a part of the exhibit. A wall becomes an interactive fireworks display, and a bathroom mirror becomes a combination stock ticker or game.
“Gaming is such a huge part of bringing computers into the mainstream,” said Thereze Alstrom, curator of the Computer Museum of America, which hosts the exhibit.
There will also be a stress on women in computing.
In the 1940s and ‘50s, programming was considered women’s work. That had a dramatic reversal when computing took off in the 1970s.
“Twenty-four percent of those in STEM [science, technology, engineering and math] jobs are women,” said Alstrom. “That’s actually high. Only 11 percent of women graduate with a STEM degree.”
She said Georgia Tech is one of the best universities for having women in its programs.
In addition to the technical aspects, there are plenty of historical artifacts. Museum founder Lonnie Mimms has collected paper memos and notes stemming back to 1974 between Microsoft founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen, when they first started working on computers and as they started their fledgling company and hired on new talent – including welcoming on recently graduated Steve Ballmer, who only left the company last year.
“This is as original as it gets,” Mimms said.
There is also a stressing of the “maker movement” that is coming back. Users are taking up the soldering iron and learning programming to build their own computers, robots or machines.
One example of this is “Raspberry PI,” an unassuming, tiny circuit board. This little computer was designed to teach children how to program computers. Alstrom said many of the displays in the museum were created using Raspberry PI.
This year’s exhibit space will be four times larger than last year. The popular retro-gaming area and introduction to soldering activity will be available again, along with a number of vendors, keynote speakers and workshop experiences.
“LINK” and the Apple Pop Up Museum will be held this weekend in conjunction with the Vintage Festival, May 3 and 4. Doors open at 10 a.m. both days. The museum is located at Kings Market Shopping Center, 1425 Market Blvd., Suite 200, Roswell, Ga., 30076.
For more information, visit them online at www.computermuseumofamerica.com