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The Computer Science Museum includes a collection of historical, computing-related materials, gathered over the years by the computer science faculty. This collection is housed on the third floor of the Noyce Science Center, Grinnell College; and much of the collection is displayed along the corridor.

Link to full museum catalog

Evolution of the Museum

Initially, members of the computer science faculty at Grinnell College informally acquired pieces of computing equipment, peripheral hardware, documentation, and other items, as they learned computing and engaged in teaching the discipline. Through the years, these individuals worked with equipment that was state-of-the-art at the time, but now is considered historical. Altogether, several faculty members developed their own private collections of computing materials over several decades. During this period, equipment was acquired and preserved, but display space was limited or non-existent. As a separate development, Grinnell College started discussing a new and expanded Science Building in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Within a few years, the computer science faculty realized that new facilities might offer the possibility of display space for equipment. Thus, in the mid 2000s, the faculty worked with architects, Holabird and Root, to incorporate several display cases within an expanded building. This activity prompted the faculty to increase their attention to collecting equipment and also prompted others (particularly visitor Steven Cunningham) to step forward with contributions.

Collection development expanded again in 2006, when the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science restructured, creating a new Department of Computer Science. The following year (2007), Phase 2 of the expanded and renovated Noyce Science Center, and the Department of Computer Science settled into new quarters, including display areas for equipment and numerous labs for teaching and research. These developments provided a framework for the display of a collection. Finally, the Department could consider how to organize and present materials. An initial arrangement of materials into the new display cases provided visual interest to the new facilities, although collection organization and labeling might be described as spotty.

With display possible and with space for storage, acquisition of materials progressed in a somewhat more formal manner. Significant gifts from David Coahran and Janet Gibson were particularly helpful.

During summer and fall 2009, work progressed to carefully catalog the collection, leading to an online museum catalog. During spring 2010, work will focus in the organization of this material within the display cases located throughout the department.