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I was in Silicon Valley this weekend doing work on my next book. While there I dropped in on the Museum of Computer History in Mountain View California, a stones throw from the headquarters of APPLE and HP.

This museum as been growing in recent years, getting a lot of the goodies from the MIT computer museum started in Boston a few years back.

They have a fun collection of some of the most famous computers ever created. They have an Enigma machine from World War II, The Enniac electronic brain from the 1950s, the first Cray supercomputers, early Apples, the first laser-printer from Xerox Parc, Commodores and PC's as well as the original Utah Teapot.

the first Apple computer kit from 1976, signed by Steve Wozniak.

the SAGE system invented in the 1950s by IBM for the Air Force to spot enemy nuclear bombers, a la Dr Strangelove. It has the first electronic pen that interacted with the screen. The forerunner of todays Cintiqs Wacoms and light pens. I noticed the SAGE computer had a built in ashtray and cigarette lighter!

They even have a complete working reconstruction of Charles Babbidges' Differential Engine from his plans from 1837. They do daily demonstrations of how the device worked. In addition, they have large labs were they are restoring ancient mainframes, much like the scientists in Jurassic Park were getting dinosaur DNA out of amber. Big old contraptions that took up an entire room, like something out of the Tracy-Hepburn 1957 movie Desk Set.

I got to admit, it's a bit of a middle-aged moment to see my old MAC II that I had on my desk at Walt Disney in 1990, sitting in a museum, it's once white plastic now yellowed with age. Egads! Am I far behind?

DO not ask for whom the computer-bell tolls...

Anyway, the museum is pretty cool and deserves our support. Admission is free, because it relies on donations. For folks serious about the origins of our computer crazed world, this museum is a fun way to see how it all began.

Check out their site-
Quiz: Sometimes you see the phrase, a Brave New World. What does that mean?

Yesterday’s Quiz Answered Below: What does it mean to be Dressed to the Nines..?
History for 5/25/2008
Birthdays: Miles Davis, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Josef Broz Tito, Igor Sikorsky, Pontormo, Bennett Cerf, Claude Akins, Leslie Uggams, Bill Bojangles Robinson, Beverly Sills-aka Bubbles Silverman, Anne Heche, Mike Myers is 45

1660-RESTORATION DAY- After Oliver Cromwell executed King Charles Ist, he declared the British Monarchy abolished, and ruled England with a junta of generals as Lord Protector. When Cromwell died of natural causes in 1659 he tried to elevate his son Richard Cromwell in his place. But the son is not the father. The rickety system didn’t work, and Richard earned the nickname “Tumbledown-Dick”. The generals led by General Monck had no other remedy to avoid chaos other than recalling King Charles’ son Charles II from exile in Flanders to be king of England. For many years Restoration Day was a holiday in the UK.
Charles returned this day with a taste for a new sport he learned in Holland of racing small boats called yachts. He also liked to take a morning walk on Constitution Hill, which is why such a walk is now called a constitutional.

1878- Gilbert & Sullivan’s HMS Pinafore premiered at the Savoy in London. “So Stick to your desk and never go to Sea, and You can be the Leader of the Queen’s Naveeee”

1906- Putting on the Ritz! London’s Ritz Hotel opened.

1911-The beginnings of Mexican Revolution forced longtime dictator Gen. Jose Porfirio Diaz into exile. As a young man Diaz had fought the French under Juarez but later seized power for himself. Under his long rule Mexico industrialized. He built railroads, water and telephone systems and schools. He had once said:" My poor Mexico. Too far from Heaven and too close to the United States."

1911- Thomas Mann visited Venice Italy. On the Lido Beach he was inspired to write A Death in Venice.

1927- Ford had put America on wheels with the Model T, the most successful car model in history. Today they stop making the Model T after 15 million cars, costing on average $300 each, $26 dollars down with monthly payments.

1932- Flamboyant New York Mayor Jimmy Walker testifies before the Seabury Commission. The corruption scandals of his administration will force him to resign.

1957- Sid Caesar's Your Show of Show's cancelled after nearly a decade. The show used future star playwrights like Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner and Neil Simon. The show pioneered the executive strategy of network programmer Pat Weaver to not let the show be owned by an entire sponsor but the network would produce the show and would sell the sponsor commercial time in 30 second chunks. Pat Weaver’s daughter is Sigorney Weaver.

1961- THE SPACE RACE- The United States had been chafing about how far ahead the Soviet Union was in the exploration of space. In an address to Congress this day President John F. Kennedy pledged the wealth and resources of the U.S. to beating Russia to the Moon. "Our pledge is within the next ten years to send a man to the moon and return him safely to Earth… We choose to go to the Moon not because it will be easy but because it is hard!" The Moon landing was achieved in 1969. Today it is acknowledged that without the motivation of the Cold War the conquest of the Moon would have happened much more slowly. In 2004 President George W. Bush tried to appropriate some of JFK’s luster by declaring a great national effort to get to Mars, but then followed it up with nothing.

1965- The Saint Louis Gateway Arch dedicated.

1968- The Rolling Stones release Jumping Jack Flash.

1979- Ridley Scott's sci-fi classic Alien opened.

1980- Evangelist Oral Roberts sees a 900-foot Jesus over his bed.

1982- Sci-fi film Blade Runner opened.

1986- Hands Across America stunt to help hunger has 7 million people at one time holding hands at noon.

2000- It was revealed that in 1958 US scientists planned to explode an atomic bomb on the moon. There would be no mushroom cloud because that requires an atmosphere, and the flash would only be visible for a few seconds. What the purpose would be other than to scare the BeeJeezus out of the Russkies no one knew. This idea was soon scrapped.
Yesterday’s Quiz: What does it mean to be Dressed to the Nines..?

Answer: The slang term has been around since quoted in an 1859 book on English slang. It means to be dressed up really fancy, as elegant as you can manage. There are several theories as to the origin. One is that a tailor required nine yards of costly fabric to create a suit and vest for such a look. Another was that the 99th Regiment of Foot was famous for their smart look. “dressing like the Nines”. Still another is that the number nine had a certain magical level of intensity, like Dante putting Judas and Beelzebub in the Ninth Level of Hell, so Robert Burns in a poem in 1793 says” Thou art Nature to the Ninth Degree.” So no one knows for sure.