The Omaha chapter of the Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP Omaha) has been awarded a $10,000 grant from the Google Data Centers Fund of Tides Foundation to create a Computer Science History Museum.
For more than 15 years, AITP Omaha has been assembling an extensive collection of computer memorabilia. The organization, comprised of students and professional members of the local information technology (IT) community, plans to establish a permanent exhibit that will be open to the public.
"This exhibit will showcase rare items that were once integral to the early days of information processing," says Mary Dobransky, AITP Omaha Vice President, Community Services. "The historical value of these artifacts is too great to not allow everyone to study and learn from them."
Chris Russell, Operations Manager at the Google Data Center in Council Bluffs, says the museum will serve people beyond the immediate metropolitan area.
"We envision this exhibit being used by students, teachers, IT career people and the general public throughout the region as well as Omaha and Council Bluffs," Russell says. "The fact it will benefit the entire community is one of the many reasons Google feels the project is deserving of our support."
Longtime AITP member Bill Justsen, who died in 2003, and his colleagues began collecting computer items in 1995 with the desire of one day establishing a permanent computer museum. The grant from the Google Data Centers Fund of Tides Foundation will enable AITP Omaha to take a large step toward making that vision a reality, Dobransky says.
To kick off the project, AITP Omaha chapter members and area students are collaborating with museum design experts to plan the unique exhibit, as well as to identify and provide a history of each item in the collection. The inventory currently numbers more than 100 items, including early personal computers, ferrite core memory, keypunch machines, card readers and disk packs/drum storage, with some items dating back to the 1940's.
"AITP Omaha is extremely grateful to Google for helping us to move forward on this exciting and significant project," Dobransky says.