A life-long collection and dream create a computer museum

Q: I had a buddy tell me I should visit the Computer Museum of America in Roswell. Can you tell me about it?

A: The Computer Museum of America opened last year to mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing and hosts an extensive collection of "computers" dating back to hundreds of years.

“It was created to preserve the history and educate visitors on the past and future of computing,” according to computermuseumofamerica.org.

Founder Lonnie Mimms has returned to life a vast collection of computing relics.

“I started as a very young kid in the early 70’s. After taking a computer programming class at the Fernbank Science Center, I was so hooked into the idea that you could type in something and have this machine at the other end of the phone line do what you told it to do,” he said.

Starting when he was around 9 years old, Mimms began collecting computers.

“The oldest items in the museum are hundreds of years old. It’s like the abacus - there weren’t actual computers back then. It’s just early computing and calculating,” he said. “One of the earliest items we have is a magazine from 1822 where Charles Babbage explains and introduces his analytical engine.”

There are three primary exhibits on display: supercomputing, a recreation of Apollo 11 with the history of rocketry and a timeline.

On March 19, their Enigma machine and newest exhibit will be on display. The Enigma is a World War II-era cipher computer from 1936 Nazi Germany.

“The museum is really the culmination of an almost life-long dream,” said Mimms. “Everything we touch is dominated by technology, and it’s wonderful to be able to actually be a part of preserving what may be the most important history of mankind.

“There isn’t any subject more relevant as careers in technology are unlimited as that’s where the future is going,” he said.

The space is large (34,000 square feet). Mimms said people are surprised when they walk in, but the engagement is significant.

“It’s fun to watch families come in and see parents and grandparents when they are looking at some of the artifacts on the timeline, explaining how it was used … It’s a transfer of history that’s occurring that we are happy to be a part of, to just initiate that conversation between family members,” said executive director Rena Youngblood.

Address: Roswell Town Center, 5000 Commerce Parkway, Roswell (770-695-0651).

Hours of Operation: Saturday: 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. and Sunday: 12 p.m. - 5 p.m. Cost varies.

For more information, visit https://computermuseumofamerica.org

New to town or simply have a question about this place we call home? Email your request to atlactualfact@gmail.com.