Saturday, December 29, 2007

Computer theme park

In the summer of 2007 I wrote a series on the retro-gadgets in my museum at home, ranging from my first portable Zenith Model 100 in 1983 to the first Sony EB reader from 1993 up to my iLiad reader from 2006. The mini-series sparked a discussion on a computer museum in The Netherlands. By lack of real computer news in the summer season, on August 14, 2007 there was a radio discussion on this subject. The question was why in there is no proper computer museum in The Netherlands.

Of course such a discussion has many ramifications. Why should there be a computer museum in the first place. And when such an initiative is entertained, what would such a museum look like. Or should it not be a museum but a theme park or entertainment center.

A museum has traditionally an old-fashioned ring about it. It nicely exhibits all the various models of Apple and of IBM, has some software aboard to show that it works; add some public lectures and educational lessons, and the museum has a mission. Hardware and software companies should be attracted as sponsors and some grants should be acquired to make the institute independent.

Of course it does not have to be a museum, but it can also be a show. In fact EPCOT, the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, is an example of this. Epcot was built at the Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Florida. The park opened on October 1, 1982, and was named EPCOT Center from 1982 to 1993. EPCOT demonstrated the innovations at a time that PCs had just been introduced to the consumer.

I was pleasantly surprised this year to find another solution: Mundo Binario, El parque de atracciones con la computadora más grande del mundo; in English the computer attraction park Binar-e-World. During the WSA Grand Jury in Croatia, Mundo Binario was presented as an entry by Venezuela and it was among the award winners in the category e-Entertainment. It is a theme park completely run by a family. Their reasoning was rather simple: a computer is content. Binar-e-World is an Information Technology theme park that has made it possible for everyone to physically travel inside a computer. The giant Computer is an impressive building located in the city of Valencia in Venezuela. It has a giant 740 inch computer monitor, a qwerty keyboard of 16m length, a CPU of 10m high and a mouse the size of a compact car. It is a one-of-a-kind edutainment destination that combines a walkthrough with rides similar to those at famous amusement parks, full of animatronics and special effects. Binar-e-World explains in a fun way the past, present and applications of information technology thus making it friendlier, attractive and accessible to everyone, no matter which age, sex or economic status.

So when the Dutch theme park Neverland (Land van Ooit) went bankrupt, I saw a concept as Mundo Binario as a fit replacement. Besides I would be able to donate my retro gadgets a proper place to be maintained and demonstrated.

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