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.


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 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?


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.


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


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


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…


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!


A Visit to the Seattle World’s Fair in “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…

Living Computer Museum

In Seattle? Love Computers? Visit the Living Computer Museum!

Do you like technology? Are you in Seattle or are you planning a trip to Seattle? Do yourself a favor and add The Living Computer Museum to your itinerary. The Museum which is located on 2245 1st Ave S just opened to the public in October of 2012 and it already has a lot to offer everyone from the hardcore tech fans to the more casual computer enthusiast.

I arrived a little before 11 am, paid my super reasonable 5 dollar admittance fee and headed to the second floor where the collection is housed. As soon as I stepped off the elevator, a tour was starting and I hopped aboard. The tour schedule starts every 15 minutes and they are very casual about hopping on and off the tour. This museum is about experiencing the technology and they fully encourage you to do so. I wanted to jump from computer to computer, but I thought it would be a good idea to listen to the tour. I am glad I did.

The tour guide was informative, but kept things moving along. He also set the tone for the museum, inviting us to touch and look around as he moved from station to station. One of the highlights was the loud and air-conditioned mainframe room. I loved the sound, the temperature and even the smell. It reminds me of when I was kid and my father took me on a tour of the buildings at Bell Telephones and he showed me computers that wowed me just as much as the ones here did. Although here they let me touch stuff, the stuff at Bell was strictly hands-off.

Moving out back to the main room, I briefly fell away from the group when we got to the personal computers of my youth, all of which were loaded with games! Kings Quest, Donkey Kong, Load Runner…all my good friends playable on all the wonderfully well-maintained machines. I calmed myself down enough to rejoin the group. Especially , since I knew that I had as much time as I needed. That is exactly what I did, after playing around on the Apple Lisa, futzing around with Microsoft Bob and marveling at the Xerox Alto.

The tour was only about a half hour and I spent another hour and half on the other machines before I had to leave, but I could have easily stayed the rest of the day and I will go back, hopefully soon. On the way out I made myself a little souvenir (which you can see below) and picked up an awesome looking t-shirt for just 6 dollars in the small gift shop. It was an amazing place to visit and one I think both locals and anyone coming to Seattle needs to experience.

My free punch-card

As I mentioned above, 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 (I saw some good-looking places to eat nearby that I will need to check out during the next visit). 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.

Now enjoy a sample of the sites you will experience at the Living Computer Museum: