Living Computers Museum

Living Computer Museum embraces the future and becomes Living Computers Museum + Labs

Since moving to Seattle, I have been a fan of the amazing Living Computer Museum. It is a regular stop for me when I have free time. Over the short years I have been here it has continued to grow its historical collection. But this week, the museum is taking a leap into the future. The Living Computer Museum is now Living Computers Museum + Labs.

What does this mean? It means a heck of a lot more fun for anyone who has even the slightest attraction to technology. They have added a new level to the facility, this one dedicated to where technology is going. So instead of mainframes, you get to play with virtual reality. Instead of the earliest personal computers, you get robots and telepresence units. All of it done in the same interactive spirit that has made their vintage collection so compelling. According to Museum Executive Director, Lath Carlson, these additions to the museum will continue to revolve and rotate. So multiple trips to the new area of the museum will be just as compelling as the existing collection.

The New Space at the Living Computers Museum

What I especially enjoyed about my time at the new Living Computers Museum + Labs is how they still bring history into the mix. You don’t just get to play with the most cutting edge VR technology, you also get to see how VR evolved over the years.

The museum has also added new lab and classroom space. Things that will pull people into the space to not just interact with technology, but also to learn how it works. That has always seemed to be the mission of the museum. It is interactive because it’s not a boring history lesson that gets you interested in technology. It is touching a LIVING Computer that does that. When I walked out of there yesterday, I wasn’t just thinking about the computers of my youth like I usually do. No, I was focusing on how technology and art will come together in the future. Oh, did I forget to mention they feature digital art now as well!

classroom space at the Living Computers Museum

Fans of the vintage section of the museum, don’t think this newness is leaving you out in the cold. In addition to the spreading of vintage tech throughout the new floor, the museum continues to maintain and restore the most impressive collection of machines you will ever behold. Plus their new Atari-style retro living room corner is mighty enough to bring a tear to my eye. It was hard for me to leave.

atari corner at the Living Computers Museum

Seattle is a pretty dynamic city. Lots of venues are vying for your attention. So it makes me so happy to see the new Living Computers Museum + Labs moving forward and doing so with an eye towards the future while maintaining respect for the past. For more information about the Living Computers: Museum + Labs, drop by their website and make sure you follow them on Twitter @livingcomputers.

Now here are the rest of the photos that I took during my visit yesterday.


Oregon Trail

Starting the New Year at Seattle’s Living Computer Museum

The first Thursday of every month means free entry for many museums in the city of Seattle. Since first Thursday fell on January 1st this year, I thought that most of the museums wouldn’t be open. Happily that was not the case and I decided to kick off the new year with a visit to one of my favorite places in Seattle, The Living Computer Museum.

If you are a regular to the site, you might have heard me mention them before and if you know me personally, you are probably asking, “why do you go so often?” The Living Computer Museum is always changing (much more rapidly than other museums I visit) and while some exhibits are permanent seeming, they are constantly putting out new stuff and evolving the experience.

On this trip, here are just a few new things I got to try. I handled two computers I had never touched before, played some classic VIC-20 games from my youth, thumbed through some classic computer books, got lost staring at the complicated wires in a computer as big as a washing machine, played some Xbox, made some music and played some chess on the MS PixelSense, took another very informative tour, and much more.

Here are some photos from my “night at the museum”.

The Museum is located on 2245 1st Ave S, which is not to far from the stadium and ballpark in the SoDo area of Seattle. Parking there is both ample and free. The LCM is open from 10am – 5pm on Thursdays – Sundays. For more information visit their website. There you can find directions, information about their mission and much more.

frederick-and-nelson

What should you get for Christmas at Frederick & Nelson in 1978

Frederick & Nelson was a department store that had a lot to offer, but for Christmas in 1978 it was all about the Haggar Clothing for men. As everyone know, one thing Santa likes more than a child who has been good all year, is a well dressed man, and Frederick & Nelson and Haggar know how to make Santa very happy jolly ol’ elf.

I never got to shop at Frederick & Nelson. They went out of business in 1992, well before I got out of New Jersey. Their flagship location, which is now a Nordstrom in downtown Seattle, has drawn my attention since I learned about this storied department store that got its start here in 1891. I will walk around the place trying to find hints of the old store based on photos that I find at places like The Department Store Museum. If you live in the Seattle area or are planning a visit, why not check it out?

alf-in-seattle

ALF watching the sun rise in Seattle

Since arriving in Seattle, ALF and I have been having a great time. We played video games, went to a museum and stayed up late last night watching old monster movies. This morning when I woke up I noticed ALF was in a more contemplative mood and I gave him some time alone as he watched the sun rise over the Space Needle. What brought on this sudden change in mood after a weekend of lighthearted hijinks? Did seeing the Space Needle make him nostalgic for his home planet? Does he miss his life with the Tanner family?

alf-in-seattle

After the sun had fully risen he turned towards me, slowly, and asked if I knew of a breakfast place that might have cat on the menu.

waterworks-park

Summer heat wearing you down? Hit the Waterworks Water Park in Issaquah, WA (1985)

waterworks-park

I did not grow up in the Issaquah, Washington area, but this classic commercial for Waterworks looks a lot like the regional commercials for water parks that I saw growing up in New Jersey. While I am sure Waterworks was not as dangerous, the images and tone reminds me a lot of the infamous Action Park.

A quick search online did not reveal any of the lawsuits or reported injuries that I would have guessed would have plagued a 1980s water park, but I did find this article about them temporarily closing Waterworks because of “Hot-Tub Itch” in 1984.

Here is a commercial from 1985.

(the Waterworks Park in Redding, CA still seems to be open)

And here is some footage shot by a visitor to the park in 1986

dna

Pacific Science Center finds a piece from the 1962 World’s Fair in their Underground Tunnels

I am a proud supporter and follower of the Pacific Science Center in Seattle. I enjoy their daily posts on Facebook, especially their Throwback Thursday ones. Yesterdays post was a real winner, here is what they said…

Here’s a great #throwbackthursday straight from the depths of the tunnels under our campus.

We found a DNA helix model represented by the 4 suits in a deck of cards in the tunnels that we recognized from pictures of the original Science Pavilion Exhibits during the 1962 World’s Fair.

This particular model was a part of the “Development of Science” Building, now currently known as Building 4. As the second building in the intended Science Pavilion sequence, the “Development of Science” Building was filled with displays intended to address “the development of science from simplest beginnings” and to “show how man has improved his ability to see, define, measure, and predict events of the natural world”.

It came with this photo…

dna

Okay, first of all. How big is their underground tunnel system? Are they talking super villain lair big or just a place to park some cars? More importantly why is a piece of history like this languishing in a tunnel? I know that it is probably because of budget issues or maybe they don’t have a place it would fit, but I hope that those are two issues they might want to think about overcoming.

I am a big fan of the 1962 World’s Fair and would love to see this piece brought out of storage, cleaned up and put on some sort of permanent display and would be willing to donate money specifically for that purpose. If you feel the same way, feel free to Contact the Pacific Science Center and tell them so.

If you would like to see this Helix in its former glory, it was featured prominently in a scene in the classic, Century 21 Calling (both normal and MST3K versions). Enjoy!

century-21-calling

A Visit to the Seattle World’s Fair in “Century 21 Calling”

century-21-calling

My exposure to this short film that showed the fun and technology (especially the Bell Systems technology), had been limited to its use on Mystery Science Theater 3000. Since moving to Seattle though and visiting Seattle Center and learning more about the 1962 World’s Fair, I have been able to enjoy the film without the layer of humor that the folks at MST3K added. I find myself walking through the area where they Fair happened trying to spot glimpses of the fair that I spot in this short and it has added an extra layer of interest to my daily walks.

If you have interest in retro tech, World’s Fairs or are planning to visit to Seattle, give “Century 21 Calling” a look.

If that does not interest you. Here is the MST3K version which is of course hilarious…