Mountain View – Computer History Museum & Google

We took a half-hour bus ride to the Caltrain station this morning and then a 42-minute, express train to Mountain View before getting on a free (Google-sponsored) shuttle bus for a few minutes and arriving at the Computer History Museum. The exhibits are really neat and include not only a UNIVAC and an ENIAC but simple – and really complex – mechanical, calculating tools from centuries past. There was an abacus on display with instructions and sample addition problems which we did together. The most complex and fascinating of the mechanical calculators was Babbage’s Difference Engine. Here’s a YouTube video showing it.

At noon Dillon walked over to the museum from Google, and we walked back with him for a tour and lunch at one of Google’s many, free cafeterias. Then Laurel, Charlie and I walked back to the museum and looked around some more before heading home to San Francisco.
For several years Fortune Magazine has rated Google number one in its listing of Best Companies to Work For, and we saw why today. The HUGE campus features all kinds of services, speakers, movies, and fun activities for its employees. We felt very fortunate that we were able to tour it. Google has solar panels on many of its buildings and carports – a solar installation that was the largest one in the US until recently. Dillon said that Google is a carbon-neutral company and even brings in goats to graze on the grass instead of using a lawn mower. When I bought a Chrome-logo t-shirt for Laurel in the gift shop, I noticed it’s made by American Apparel, not sweatshop labor. Their food offerings at the cafeterias are also enviro-friendly. When I noticed items such as “free-range eggs” on the digital menu overhead and commented on it, Dillon replied, “Yeah, they’re buzzword compliant.” 🙂
Laurel is considering studying marine biology at some point and was wondering aloud today how Google might make use of such skills since it looks like such a great place to work.
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Inside the Cray-1 Supercomputer

Inside the Cray-1 Supercomputer

Babbage's Difference Engine

Babbage’s Difference Engine

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At the Computer History Museum

At the Computer History Museum


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At Google for employees to ride around campus

At Google for employees to ride around campus

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A courtyard with dessert statues represents each Android upgrade.

A courtyard with dessert statues represents each Android upgrade.

Stan, a T-Rex skeleton, was covered in pink flamingo statues today.  Employees move the flamingoes wherever they want; today was Stan's day apparently.

Stan, a T-Rex skeleton, was covered in pink flamingo statues today. Employees move the flamingoes wherever they want; today was Stan’s day apparently.

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