Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Intel Museum: Fab-ulous

I'm spending my weekend in Santa Clara CA, and just a little way up the street from my hotel is the Intel campus.

What is very cool is that they have a small but excellent museum there that is open to the public. There you can not only experience the history of Intel; but the history of computing, especially in the last 30 years.

Intel was founded in 1968 by two guys, Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore (Moore's law), who worked for Fairchild Semiconductor. They thought better of naming the new company Moore-Noyce (more-noise) and so Intel was born.

There are displays of everything from how chips are made to a trip through Intel's marketing strategies. One really neat thing is that the entire floor of the museum is made of perforated "clean room" tiles.

I wandered the museum by myself. Then I took a free docent-led tour that was both fun and informative.

One of my favorite things in the museum was an original Altair 8800. After all, it is the computer that started it all for the home user.

My other favorite thing was the silicon ingot. The docent told us that it was just like the ones they actually make the wafers from, but that is was shorter than the ones they use in production. The ingot on display would produce 12 inch wafers.

The museum is free and is open 6 days a week. There are both static and interactive displays that are fun for all ages. If you find yourself in Silicon Valley with an hour or 2 to spare, the Intel Museum is a great way to totally geek out.

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