At Living Computers: Museum + Labs we empower people through the active use of computing technology.
Most museums put glass in front of their stuff—we put a chair.
Our philosophy is simple. To understand computing technology, you need to experience that technology firsthand. And the best way to experience a computer is to use it.
It all started with one computer. In 1997 Paul Allen's company, Vulcan Inc., purchased a TOAD-1 System from XKL Systems Corporation (now XKL LLC), an engineering firm in Redmond, Washington. Mr. Allen was interested in preserving the historically significant software that was created on Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) PDP-10 family of systems, which came to be known as the DECsystem-10 and DECSYSTEM-20, and made the TOAD-1, a PDP-10 clone, available to the public.
A DECSYSTEM-1090 and DECSYSTEM-2065 from XKL and a large collection of various DEC PDP computers soon followed. In 2006, remote accounts to some of these machines we opened to the public through the PDPPlanet.com website.
After broadening the collection beyond DEC, in 2012 the museum opened its vintage computer collection for the public to see, and use, as the Living Computer Museum. In 2016 the museum expanded with the addition of 1st floor exhibits featuring current technology, as well as three hands-on computer science learning labs. It then took the name Living Computers: Museum + Labs.
LCM+L continues to collect, and bring back to life, historically significant computers and software. Machines are available for use onsite whenever possible, and many can be used remotely.
Living Computers was originally founded by Paul G. Allen (1953-2018), and operates today as a 501(C)3 non-profit charity.
For four decades after co-founding Microsoft, entrepreneur and philanthropist Paul G. Allen continued to explore the frontiers of technology and human knowledge, and act to change the future.
Through his company Vulcan Inc., Paul worked to save endangered species, slow climate change, improve ocean health, share art, history and film, develop new technology, tackle epidemics, research how the human brain works and build sustainable communities. In all his endeavors, Mr. Allen constantly asked “What if…?” and pushed people to challenge conventional thinking, collaborate across disciplines and reimagine what’s possible.