Computers & Business Machines
Imagine the loss, 100 years from now, if museums hadn't begun preserving the artifacts of the computer age. The last few decades offer proof positive of why museums must collect continuously—to document technological and social transformations already underway.
The museum's collections contain mainframes, minicomputers, microcomputers, and handheld devices. Computers range from the pioneering ENIAC to microcomputers like the Altair and the Apple I. A Cray2 supercomputer is part of the collections, along with one of the towers of IBM's Deep Blue, the computer that defeated reigning champion Garry Kasparov in a chess match in 1997. Computer components and peripherals, games, software, manuals, and other documents are part of the collections. Some of the instruments of business include adding machines, calculators, typewriters, dictating machines, fax machines, cash registers, and photocopiers
Ceramic Jar with Cork Containing Plastic Y2K Bugs
- This turquoise and gray jar has a cork lid. It contains eighteen colorful plastic bugs.
- Donor Jan Lilja received the jar as a gift from a colleague at the time she was the Y2K Executive at the Food and Nutrition Service, an agency within the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The Food and Nutrition Service administers the nation's nutrition programs such as food stamps (now called SNAP), WIC, and school lunch and breakfast programs. Because most of these programs are administered through the states, territories and local governments, Lilja was also held personally responsible for preventing computer software problems in nutrition programs at these entities when dates changed from 1999 to 2000. To recognize the hard work done, the U.S. government created Y2K medals. She requested about 100 of these for individuals within FNS and arranged an awards ceremony. When the medals did not arrive in time for the ceremony, she purchased plastic bugs to put in the ceramic jar. Rather than receiving a medal, awardees received a bug and a paper certificate (for such a certificate, see 2016.3118.01). These bugs were far more widely displayed than the medals that eventually arrived (for such a medal, see 2016.0138.02).
- She distributed the bugs as rewards to those working on the project.
- Currently not on view
- date made
- ca 2000
- ca 1999
- ID Number
- accession number
- catalog number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History