Extinct audio format gets a museum

The Eight Track Museum opens on Monday in the Deep Ellum arts district of Dallas. If you're under 40 you may have never seen or heard an 8-track audio tape. The 5.25x4x.8 inch plastic tape cartridge was big and bulky, but it became wildly popular in cars in the 1960s. An 8-track cartridge contains a continuous loop of quarter-inch tape. The ends of the tape are linked by a metal foil splice, and the tape is divided along its length into 8 channels, or tracks (hence the name).

Bucks Burnett, 52, is the force behind the creation … Read more

The art of making Google Art Project (Q&A)

Last week, Google unveiled a Street View-esque project that brings viewers face to face with some of the greatest art on earth.

Known as Google Art Project, the initiative will give users remote access to the priceless paintings, sculptures, and other artifacts from 17 of the world's most famous museums, including New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art, London's National Gallery and Tate Britain, the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, and others.

In a blog post announcing the effort, Amit Sood, head … Read more

A revolution at the Computer History Museum

A new exhibit that was two years and $19 million in the making opened at the Computer History Museum today, and if you have even a passing interest in technology (That's everyone, right?) you need to head to Silicon Valley and check it out.

Revolution: The First 2,000 Years of Computing is the name of the exhibit that contains thousands of products that track our obsession with creating machines to expand or augment human intelligence and capabilities. The abacus? Check. An original Apple I computer? Check. A working PDP-1 that you can actually play the first video game, … Read more

U.K. rebuilding EDSAC computer from 1949

Turning up their noses at modern handheld devices, British researchers are rebuilding a 60-year-old, room-size computer that used 5-foot-long tubes of mercury as memory.

The Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator (EDSAC) was first built at Cambridge University. It's recognized as the world's first practical electronic stored-program computer, and unlike earlier program-controlled computers, none of its wiring or switches had to be changed to perform a new calculation.

Programs were fed into the machine on a punched tape. The first was run on May 6, 1949, computing a set of square numbers.

As a general-purpose research tool, EDSAC was … Read more

Computer History Museum gets a reboot (podcast)

The Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif., tomorrow will unveil what it's calling a "21st century makeover" with its newly renovated building and greatly increased exhibit space.  After two years and $19 million, the museum has an entirely new look and feel and a major new exhibit called "Revolution: The First 2,000 Years of Computing."

As you enter the museum you see some of the first computing devices other than our ancestor's 10 fingers and 10 toes, including the abacus. But as you walk around, you see how technology has progressed … Read more

Hands-on with Babbage's Difference Engine

Last week, I spent a couple of hours at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif., which for a small-time collector of tech artifacts is like Charlie getting into the chocolate factory.

The highlight of the visit was a personal tour by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who wandered among the displays and explained how some of the products had influenced his understanding and passion for technology, which culminated in the creation of the first Apple computer. You can see several videos of Wozniak, who was very generous with his time despite nursing a sore throat, here.

My relatively short … Read more

Woz goes hands-on with technology relics

Working in journalism can make for a lot of bad days, such as the time I had to ask for family photos of a woman whose estranged husband shot her and lit her car on fire as she arrived at work. Or when I maneuvered my unsafe, classic Mustang through the streets of Dallas in a wicked ice storm only to be told by an airport executive (in person, as was required by my editor so we could get a dateline in the newspaper), "We aren't closed, we just aren't allowing flights in or out."

Today, … Read more

Porsche thanks 1 million Facebook fans

If Facebook were a country, it would be the third most populated in the world (behind China and India). Of its 5 billion users, 1 million have become "fans" of Porsche. Now, Porsche says, these fans are in for a treat.

To celebrate the landmark number of Facebook fans, Porsche is letting those fans include their names on a special model that will be on display at the Porsche Museum Stuttgart, Germany. Fans have until December 31, 2010, to opt in on the offer. The car, with all the names, will be shown in February 2011.

"Although … Read more

Tech Award winners tackle water crisis, stove emissions

Projects designed to help communities improve access to clean water, cook with clean-burning fuel, fortify salt to maintain nutrients, and use mobile phones as learning devices have been honored with awards for technology benefiting humanity.

The annual Tech Awards, sponsored by The Tech Museum in San Jose, Calif., were given to the winners in a ceremony tonight.

Two of the winners were projects that dealt with the problem many local communities around the world have in getting enough clean, fresh water. The Peer Water Exchange, a project of Blue Planet Network, is a global clearinghouse where communities can share water … Read more