Living Computers: Museum + Labs, Seattle

#5 of 22 in Childrens Museums in Washington State
Science Museum · Hidden Gem · History Museum
Living Computers: Museum + Labs (LCM+L) is a computer and technology museum located in the SoDo neighborhood of Seattle, Washington. LCM+L showcases vintage computers which provide interactive sessions, either through time-sharing operating systems or single-user interfaces. This gives users a chance to actually use the computers on-line or in person in the museum. An expansion adds direct touch experiences with contemporary technologies such as self-driving cars, the internet of things, big data, and robotics. This puts today's computer technology in the context of how it's being used to tackle real-world issues. LCM+L also hosts a wide range of educational programs and events in their state-of-the art classroom and lab spaces.

According to an archived version of LCM's website, their goal is "to breathe life back into our machines so the public can experience what it was like to see them, hear them, and interact with them. We make our systems accessible by allowing people to come and interact with them, and by making them available over the Internet."
The current site similarly shares that "Living Computers: Museum + Labs provides a one-of-a-kind, hands-on experience with computer technology from the 1960s to the present. LCM+L honors the history of computing with the world’s largest collection of fully restored—and usable—supercomputers, mainframes, minicomputers and microcomputers."
As of August 2020 the museum is closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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Living Computers: Museum + Labs reviews

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  • Really enjoyed seeing all of the unique computers from the apple 1 to the Xerox mainframes. The machines on display are mostly able to be used be visitors to the museum. Enjoyed the totally 80s...  more »
  • The living computer museum surprised me more than a little. Not only are the exhibits fairly engaging for younger folks, but there's enough real content to excite even the older geeks/history buffs...  more »
  • There is something for everyone at the Living Computers Museum. These are not just old computers behind glass; as a living museum, many of the computers are working and accessible. The history of computing comes alive here, with everything from early supercomputers to the evolution of the computers that we use in our daily lives. As a legacy computer enthusiast I enjoyed seeing many of the historical systems that I have read about, but also loved getting to talk with some of the engineers that helped restore them to life. My family enjoyed many of the first floor exhibits like telepresence robots and a fully functioning 90s arcade, as well as some of the interactive exhibits on the second floor. I would plan a half day for a visit, but it's definitely worth it even if you only have an hour or two to visit.
  • This was a cool museum. Note that you can save some money buying the tickets online, even if you do that in the parking lot on your phone like we did. They had a floor dedicated to old tech, from mainframes to original personal punch card computers, up through the 60s, 70s, 80s, and on. They have tours a few times a day, which we unable to make. There were also exhibits on game development, robotics, and AI, though the historic stuff was the highlight for us. We spent about 2 hours total walking the museum. You can touch and play with a lot of the equipment, so it can be fun for kids (and adults!). Worth seeing if you are interested in how far we have come in computing.
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