Access and Research
Thank you for your interest in the Computer History Museum’s collections. The Computer History Museum is committed to providing access to primary source materials that support its mission to preserve and present for posterity the stories of the Information Age. CHM’s collection includes computer hardware, prototypes, and ephemera; software; still and moving images; oral histories; and an expansive array of documents. There are records and personal papers from corporations, CEOs, computer science luminaries, female entrepreneurs and inventors, and enthusiastic collectors listed in more than 120,000 catalog entries in our collections database.
The Computer History Museum welcomes use of its collections by all researchers, including other museums and archives, teachers, students, media members, intellectual property specialists and computer hobbyists. Access to CHM’s archives is provided free of charge. Fees apply to duplicate materials, to use images, and to access large artifacts due to significant staff labor and time. The Museum does not offer research services on behalf of external constituents.
Prior to contacting CHM, please identify materials of interest by searching the Museum's online catalog and note the titles and catalog numbers for reference.
Computer Hardware and 3-D Collections
Access to physical artifacts for research purposes is limited to onsite inspections. Operation of computers and devices in the Museum’s permanent collections is strictly prohibited. Loans are available to peer museums and archives only. Regional loans require written requests four months in advance; international loans require six months lead time. Please direct loan and access inquiries to the Registrar.
First, use our Collection Search to identify desired audiovisual materials. Please be sure to note the title and catalog number of desired items.
To determine availability and fees, submit a request containing the following information to Audiovisual Requests:
- The title and catalog number of each audiovisual item you are interested in
- How the item(s) will be used
- Your full name and complete contact information
The Museum has a great depth, breadth, and diversity of holdings in its software history collection. As part of the Center for Software History, we are actively working on providing access to our software collection. To determine availability please email Research Requests.
From corporate records to the papers of individual inventors and pioneers, the Museum’s archive contains a trove of correspondences, memoranda, business plans, laboratory notebooks, marketing material, computer manuals, conference proceedings, near print newsletters, and rare market studies. For reference assistance with the Museum’s vast documents holdings, please email Research Requests with your full contact information to:
- Request a search of our collections to determine if we have materials relating to your needs
- Seek access to the collection and/or schedule an onsite visit appointment
- Discuss a research project in general
All appointments for onsite research are held at the Computer History Museum’s research facility located in Fremont, California. Appointments must be scheduled at least two weeks in advance. Appointments are offered Tuesday through Thursday between the hours of 8:30 and 3:30, and are subject to staff availability as a staff member is required to be present at all times. Specialized research projects that necessitate a substantial investment of staff time, whether undertaken by individuals or on behalf of professional entities, may require special arrangements with longer lead time. Please search CHM’s archival finding aids to identify materials open for research, then email Research Requests.