January 30, 2019

Changing the Meaning of ‘PC’ in ‘Paul Gray PC Museum’

CGU Professor Paul Gray
CGU Professor Emeritus Paul Gray. Photo courtesy of INFORMS

A change is coming to the name of a fixture in the university’s Academic Computing Building (ACB): The Paul Gray Personal Computer Museum will be changing its name to the Paul Gray Personal Computing Museum to better reflect the museum’s purpose as well as the expanding usage of computing on multiple platforms.

When the museum was founded in 2002, personal computing was synonymous with personal computers. The museum draws on the many specimens of PCs that Emeritus Professor Paul Gray collected over the years.

Personal computers from the dawn of the PC era
DAWN OF A NEW ERA: PCs collected by Paul Gray and now on permanent display in ACB.

But today, that isn’t the case. Now many people frequently work on other mobile devices, including tablets, and other handheld devices like smart phones, and even smart watches.

This name change signals a broadening of the scope of the museum and also taps into the spirit of the efforts of Gray — who passed away in 2012 at the age of 81 — to collect machines that span the early developments in the field of personal computing.

For Professor Lorne Olfman, who is the director of the university’s Center for Information Systems & Technology (CISAT), the museum pays a special tribute to his former colleague.

“Paul was deeply committed to modern technology and the future,” Olfman said. “He believed that computing could change the world by extending the power of the human mind. Paul also loved education, and the museum provides the opportunity to extend that education for posterity. Understanding the roots of personal computing deepens an appreciation of just how quickly that aspect of human existence has evolved.”


Paul Gray with his students in the 1980s.
INFORMATION SCIENCE PIONEER: Paul Gray (right) with students in the 1980s.

The mission of the museum (which recently received a relaunch) is to inspire creativity and innovation for all ages through engagement with technology. The change might seem small, but Olfman pointed out that the wording change from “computer” to “computing” in the museum title “will remind visitors that we’re looking to the future as well.”

The museum preserves technological history and honors Gray’s legacy by creating interdisciplinary partnerships across CGU and other organizations. The museum is a collaborative, iterative, human-centered institution dedicated to the collection, preservation, exhibition, and documentation of technology throughout time.

One of Gray’s students–upon the occasion of Gray’s retirement from CGU–quoted from Sanskrit Vedic literature: ”The gift of knowledge is the greatest gift.”

The CISAT team considers the museum an example of that Vedic ideal by giving current and future students the critical information to understand technology’s past, present, and where it may be headed next.

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