Relive the history of computing at 'The Interface Experience'

Sponsored Links

Relive the history of computing at 'The Interface Experience'

At a time when devices are faster and slimmer than ever, a collection of bulky old computers can be amusing yet surprisingly evocative. The Interface Experience, an exhibition at the Bard Graduate Center's Focus Gallery in New York, brings on a rush of nostalgia with a ton of vintage machines. Kimon Keramidas, curator and director of the digital media lab, hopes that an interaction with aging technology will make people think critically about their current devices. Unlike the objects that are off-limits behind a glass wall in a museum, the machines at the exhibit are open and quite alive. They've been overhauled with custom programs to initiate a three-way exchange with the user, the software and the hardware.

A visit to the Interface Experience exhibit

It isn't the most comprehensive display, but it provides the necessary landmarks that define the journey of computers from laboratories to personal living spaces. The evolution, spread over the last four decades, starts with the 1982 Commodore 64 (the best-selling standalone computer of all time) and ends with the 2010 Microsoft Kinect. Keramidas, and his team of students, scouted machines on eBay for two years. They spent about $6,200 on rare computers and mobile phones. "It was interesting to see what stuff people like to save, how they sell it, how they tell a story of how great it is," says Keramidas. "They use nostalgia as a tool." The idea was to find machines that were ubiquitous during their lifespans. Out of the 25 items on display, five core machines circle the center of the room. "They each represent a historical development of interface experience," he says.

Turn on browser notifications to receive breaking news alerts from Engadget
You can disable notifications at any time in your settings menu.
Not now

Jonathan Dahan, a Brooklyn-based software designer, programed the core computers so visitors can play around with the obsolete designs. You can press the chunky keys of a Commodore 64 keyboard or drag a first generation, curve-less Macintosh mouse. You can poke the PalmPilot with its stylus, swipe an iPad2 or wave your hands in front of the Kinect to activate its sensors. The inconvenience of interacting with older, heftier machines puts the power and complexity of present day technology in perspective. The differences are also a great reminder of where it all began for personal computers.

Gallery: The Interface Experience: Forty Years of Personal Computing | 40 Photos

  • The Interactive Experience: Forty Years of Personal Computers
  • The Interface Experience: Forty Years of Personal Computers
  • The Interface Experience: Forty Years of Personal Computers
  • The Interface Experience: Forty Years of Personal Computers
  • The Interface Experience: Forty Years of Personal Computers
  • Xerox Alto (1973 - 82)
  • Atari 2600 / VCS (1977 - 92)
  • Apple II (1977 - 93)
  • VisiCalc (1979 - 85)
  • Osborne 1 (1981 - 83)
  • Sinclair ZX81 (1981 - 84)
  • Xerox Star 8010 Information System (1981 - 85)
  • IBM Personal Computer (1981 - 87)
  • MS-DOS (1981 - 20010
  • GRiD Compass  (1982 - 86)
  • Commodore 64 (1982 - 94)
  • Minitel (1983 - 2012)
  • RadioShack TRS-80 Model 100 (1983 - 86)
  • Apple Macintosh (1984 - 90)
  • Apple Macintosh (1984 - 90)
  • Nintendo Entertainment System (1985 - 95)
  • Nintendo Game Boy (1989 - 2003)
  • Apple PowerBook 100 Series (1991 - 96)
  • Apple Newton (1994 - 98)
  • Apple Newton (1994 - 98)
  • Sony PlayStation (1994 - 2004)
  • Netscape Navigator (1994 - 2008)
  • Wacom ArtPad (1994 - 97)
  • Windows 95 (1995 - 2001)
  • PalmPilot (1996 - 2001)
  • Apple iMac G3 (1998 - 2003)
  • VeriFone Omni 7000MPD (2003 - 08)
  • HP Compaq TC4200 (2005 - 6)
  • Nintendo Wii (2006 - 14)
  • Amazon Kindle (2007 - present)
  • Apple iPad (2010 present)
  • Apple Magic Trackpad (2010 - present)
  • Microsoft Kinect (2010 - present)
  • Wall of phones
  • The Interface Experience
/40
All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Popular on Engadget