Software History Collections & Preservation

Software History Collections & Preservation | Center for Software History | Computer History Museum
Glimpse into Museum’s PC software collection.

The Museum has a rich and diverse collection for the technical, business, and cultural histories of software, as well as other software studies. The collection spans executable programs and source code on a variety of media, trade publications and market reports, personal papers, corporate records, photography, film and video recordings, oral history, and associated objects. The Center for Software History is working to expand and preserve this collection, to make it more accessible, and to put it to use in a variety of ways.

Check back here in the future for curated selections. In the meanwhile, begin your exploration by visiting Collections Search.

Source Code Releases

The Museum continues to pioneer the collection and public release of the source code for important historical software. Visit the pages below to learn about, and access, these milestones in software history.

Milestones in Software History

Software History Holdings

Punched paper tape was a dominant medium for the storage of programs and information from the emergence of digital computing through the 1970s.
Punched paper tape was a dominant medium for the storage of programs and information from the emergence of digital computing through the 1970s.

The Museum has a great depth, breadth, and diversity of holdings in its collection connected to software history. The software collection is enhanced by the stories embodied in our extensive oral history collection of software pioneers. The Museum is actively working on providing access to additional software in the collection and hopes to overcome the preservation and legal issues soon to provide even greater access to our collections.

Collections of note include:

Item Description
Dennis Austin papers A rich source on ForeThought, the forerunner to PowerPoint
Esther Dyson papers Release 1.0 Dyson's analyst report focused on analysis and projections of emerging technologies, and the software and technology industries from 1983 to 2006.
Adele Goldberg papers Consists of Goldberg's working files related to the development and licensing of Smalltalk, a programming language she co-developed at Xerox PARC.
Jeff Rulifson papers Documents Rulifson's career as a computer scientist working on artificial intelligence, NLS (oN-Line Systems), Xerox PARC, ROLM Corporation, Syntelligence, Inc., and Sun Microsystems from 1961 to 1985.
SRI ARCH/NIC collection Source on Douglas Englebart's NLS (oN-Line Systems) and Augment Systems including NLS source code.
Herbert Stoyan papers Comprehensive source documenting the origins, evolution, and use of the LISP programming language and many of its applications in artificial intelligence.
Jim Warren papers Documents the West Coast Computer Faire, his publications on the PC industry and a large quantity of historic PC era software.

Museum Software Preservation Initiative

Software curator Al Kossow’s facility for the recovery of data from the oldest media.
Software curator Al Kossow’s facility for the recovery of data from the oldest media.

One of the most important challenges facing any museum or archives, that collects modern history, is the preservation challenges inherent in digital media. The Museum is at the forefront of identifying issues and ways to preserve its collection. We are actively engaged with other groups framing the questions and answers inherent in digital object preservation.

Currently, we are actively 'reading' or disk imaging our historic software on a variety of different media. Once read and cataloged the disk image is deposited into our Digital Repository guaranteeing its long-term preservation.

Current blog posts about digital preservation and collection:

Software Preservation Group

The work of the Center for Software History builds on the pioneering efforts of the Museum’s Software Preservation Group in the preservation and presentation of critical historical software, source code, and associated materials.

The Group’s website contains a wealth of content and perspectives. See its collections on:

For More Information

TELEPHONE / FAX / EMAIL ADDRESS
650-810-1010 650-810-1055
Center for Software History
Computer History Museum
Center for Software History
1401 N Shoreline Blvd.,
Mountain View, CA 94043