The love started with the purchase of a $125 adding machine. Barbara and George Keremedjiev bought it at a flea market without knowing what it was. They quickly learned and kept buying adding machines and later computers. Most of the time they got really interesting things for free because so many items were being thrown out.
Today that collection has turned into the American Computer Museum in Bozeman, Montana.
Last time I visited this museum it was in the early 1990s. It now is in a new storefront in a strip mall. But it is no less thrilling.
It's interesting to contrast the museum with the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley. That one is probably 150 times the size with many many times the budget. But I like this museum better in a few ways. I think it's a bit more educational. It certainly is more intimate. They focus more on the people behind the machines rather than just the machines themselves. And because it's in a major tourist zone (if you are driving from the West Coast to Yellowstone you probably will pass through here — Bozeman is about 1.5 hours from Yellowstone's northern border) they get a different audience than the Silicon Valley one gets.
I'm sitting here on the floor, there aren't many visitors today, and I'm talking with Barbara. They just reopened after a few weeks preparing their new exhibit on Samuel Morse and the telegraph.
What do I notice? Is the love and attention to detail. And the personal stories of things they've collected. Unfortunately my cell phones are giving me fits (GPRS isn't working well here for me) so I'll have to wait until next week to get my photos up, but this is a do NOT miss.
Oh, and Steve Wozniak has been here twice and donated an Apple I to the museum.