In 1939, as war darkens the skies over all of Europe, one young man matches wits with one of the greatest puzzles ever invented: Germany’s dreaded Enigma Machine. The ingenious machine he devises to help crack the enemy code helps end the war and inaugurate the Computer Age.
If that sounds familiar, you might have seen 2014 Oscar winner The Imitation Game, in which Benedict Cumberbatch plays Alan Turing in arguably the most thrilling film about math ever. That excitement lives on at the Computer History Museum, a stunning cathedral of computing and the setting for the new Computer History Museum Madness Scavenger Hunt! Let’s take a quick look at some of our favorite features of the museum and the surrounding town of Mountain View, the current cradle of cutting-edge technology—and an easy 45-minute trip from San Francisco.
Available to the public for the first time, the Computer History Museum Mania Scavenger Hunt digs deep into every aspect of the field. As you explore the museum, answering tricky, humorous questions, you’ll find a model of a four-story computer, wild calculators of every stripe, a revolutionary device that helped guide atomic bombs, early pacemakers, that devilish Enigma Machine, and 2000 years’ worth of computing history.
But the museum also offers up weird and funny gems of ephemera from the often crazy world of computer science. How about the 1969 Neiman Marcus Kitchen Computer or a mainframe naysayer literally eating his words with a knife and fork? We also love the museum’s collection of geek-tastic flair from actual coders. How hilarious, timeless sayings like “your zip file is open” and “smile if you fondle floppies” never caught on is beyond us!
Other hunt highlights include:
- Encounters with Furby, Pac-Man, and the Muppets
- Proof that size isn’t everything, particularly when it comes to technology
- Insight into the boredom and terror of defending America from nuclear annihilation
- A fitting shrine to computing, the museum is a thing of efficient beauty, sleek with glass and steel and alive with light. The airy lobby and cafe open onto 25,000 square feet of exhibition space and the museum’s more than 100,000 artifacts.
- Home to the likes of Google and Mozilla, Mountain View is a laid-back Silicon Valley escape with views of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Hunters can easily make a day or a half day of the trip with a stop at the beautiful Shoreline Park or at any of the town’s countless restaurants.
(Lead image via Mark Richards Photography)