Musée Bolo, EPFL

The Musée Bolo – the missing link

The Musée Bolo has been telling the story of digital technology since 2002. Its collections are made up of old computers and anything to do with previous generations of digital machines. It is hosted by the EPFL.

“When I started collecting PCs, people thought I was crazy”, says Yves Bolognini, the engineer who has lent his nickname to the to the Musée Bolo.

Through its computers from previous eras the Musée Bolo is able to shine a new light on the digital objects which have insinuated themselves into every nook of our current existences. How did we get to where we are today? It’s a short story, merely a few decades old, punctuated with successes but also several failures and illustrated by some of the collection’s most important objects as well as evoked by photos of computing’s pioneering figures.

During their visit, the nostalgic can rediscover a complete range of micro-computers including the Swiss-made Smaky machines that they used during their schooldays. As they fiddle with the smartphones in their pockets, visitors of all ages will be amazed by the Cora 1 (1963) unearthed from one of the EPFL’s basements and which could still function at -40°C, or the number-crunching dinosaur that is the Cray 2. As for the enigmatic black Cube (NeXT), this is the machine that was the first Web server, hosting the hypertext system that runs on the Internet.

Behind all these machines that have been rediscovered, restored and in many instances brought back to working order, is an army of geeks who give up their time freely. They are so highly motivated that they have rebuilt an Apple I with their own hands, the legendary machine designed in a garage in 1976 by two famous pioneers, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. And it works!

No doubt about it: the Musée Bolo is the missing link between the computing of (grand)dad’s generation and the hyper-connected modern era we know today.

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