The No. 1 question people ask the staff when they visit is, "Who invented the computer?"
Now, anyone around the world can search for the answer to that and other questions about the history of computing and related technologies on the museum's new "Revolution" website. Revolution, which launched on Friday, gives online visitors the chance to learn not just about the hardware that revolutionized the world but also the stories behind the individuals responsible.
"We think that 'Revolution' will motivate people to come see the real thing," said Kristen Tashev, vice president of collections and exhibits. "It's to engage people. The exhibition will appeal to teachers, students and researchers."
The site, which will be accessible on desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphone devices, now hosts 75 percent of the museum's collection. However, an advantage to Revolution is its interactivity, which makes it feel like there's more.
For example, the timeline shows the history of computers, technology and the Internet. Click on "Atari's Roller-Coaster Ride," and you can learn not just about the company, the games and the game consoles but also its founders and what was happening in Silicon Valley in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
"We are actively inviting innovators involved with all of this history to comment and share pieces that we don't already know [about]," said Bob Sanguedolce, vice president of technology at CHM. "We'll be adding more content as more history happens."
Since its grand reopening in January the museum's attendance "has been wonderful," according to Tashev. CHM expects to attract 150,000 visitors a year, "which is a healthy number for a museum our size in our location," she said.
With this new move, the computer museum joins other world-renowned museums with interactive collections online, like the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and the British Museum. These museums receive a lot of foot traffic, and their online collections have not diminished that fact, explained Tashev.
"We shouldn't be afraid to open up our exhibition and put them online," she said. "More museums should do this."