Milestone-Proposal talk:Special Citation: Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum (HNF)

Revision as of 15:07, 1 May 2021 by Juan Carlos (talk | contribs) (slight change of the citation -- ~~~~: new section)

Advocates and reviewers will post their comments below. In addition, any IEEE member can sign in with their ETHW login (different from IEEE Single Sign On) and comment on the milestone proposal's accuracy or completeness as a form of public review.

Advocate's Assessment -- Dmichelson (talk) 08:09, 21 April 2021 (UTC)

As the advocate, I have reviewed this Milestone proposal against the recommended criteria for Special Citations:

1. How long has the museum/archives/historical site been open?

2. How many visitors does it receive in a year?

3. What special artifacts, papers, or other scholarly resources does it contain, and how are these displayed to the public and/or made available to researchers.

4. Have materials in the collection been cited in books or articles?

Against these criteria, the Milestone proposal scores very highly. The Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum is well established, has a significant collection housed in a significant space, draws a large number of visitors per year, actively engages with other computer history museums, and is engaged in all main facets of museum activity including public education, preservation of artifacts, and hosting of meetings and conferences. Moreover, there is adequate supporting material from a variety of sources to back up these claims.

I recommend the following modified citation:

One of the largest computer museums in the world, the Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum presents 5000 years of computing history from the emergence of numbers and lettering circa 3000 B.C. to the modern digital age. By continuously adding presentations, workshops and seminars to its exhibition, it provides a broad audience with the insights and perspectives required to navigate a world that is ever more determined by digital technology. (67 words)

The proposer has replied: "The edited citation is great. I thought that it would be good if a native speaker reviews it; done."

I have obtained or entered independent reviews from four technical experts, including:

- Marc Weber, Curatorial Director of the Internet History Program, at the Computer History Museum

- Dr. William Aspray of the Charles Babbage Institute and Chair of the IEEE Computer History Committee,.

- Dr. Doron Swade, Chair, Computer Conservation Society, Honorary Fellow, Royal Holloway University of London

- Dr. John Impagliazzo, Professor Emeritus, Hofstra University, IEEE Fellow and Life Member, ACM Distinguished Educator

Given that these technical experts agree that the proposal has merit, I recommend that it be placed on the agenda for the next meeting of the IEEE History Committee for consideration.

Re: Advocate's Assessment -- Dmichelson (talk) 14:56, 21 April 2021 (UTC)

Computer History Museum, 1401 N. Shoreline Blvd, Mountain View, CA 94043, T 650.810.1010, F 650.810.1055,

March 4, 2021, IEEE History Committee, IEEE History Center, 445 Hoes Lane, Piscataway, NJ 08854 U.S.A.

Dear History Committee,

I am writing to enthusiastically support the application of the Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum (HNF) for an IEEE Milestone (Special Citation).

The HNF is one of the largest computer museums in the world and plays a critical role in the education of a broad audience on the topic of computer history. It has an outstanding collection of historic artifacts in its wonderful exhibitions, and many interactive and engaging installations that lead the visitors through 5000 years from the invention of numbers and writing to our modern, digital age. It is also deeply engaged in the historic community and takes an active role in promoting the importance of history for our society and its future.

The Computer History Museum (CHM) has cooperated with the HNF in several ways for decades, and we have always had a very fruitful exchange of ideas. HNF is the only major, dedicated computer museum in Europe, and with us one of only two in the world. As such it is an essential cultural institution for the history and future of technology.

In the interest of transparency I should note that I have been involved in the process for IEEE Milestones, notably the one for Douglas Engelbart's 1968 demo, and am a corresponding member of the IEEE History Committee.

I support the application fully and without reservation and confirm that the HNF is an essential institution that deserves this Citation.


Marc Weber, Curatorial Director, Internet History Program, Computer History Museum, +1 415 282 6868,,

Re: Advocate's Assessment -- Joachim Wiest (talk) 16:22, 21 April 2021 (UTC)

The proposer supports the modified text of the citation and updated the proposal.

Re: Advocate's Assessment -- Dmichelson (talk) 16:27, 21 April 2021 (UTC)

On Apr 21, 2021, at 09:16, Doron Swade wrote:

Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum is the pre-eminent computer museum in Europe and a major international museum in the independent museum sector. The reputation of the artefactual holdings in its collections, the breadth and depth of exhibitions treatment, curatorial authority, and research, is of the highest, and deservedly so. I had the pleasure of being a judge for the Tony Sale award that HNF won in 2016 and had then the occasion to study the ENIAC reconstruction exhibit in detail. The scrupulous attention to issues of historical authenticity, both factual and presentational, the deeply insightful design of an exhibit’s interaction with visitors as a learning experience, and the limitless trouble taken to ensure visual and historical authenticity, cannot be sufficiently praised. I have had scholarly contact with HNF staff over many years on at least three occasions about research content for various exhibitions. The depth of HNF’s treatment, the creative way in which meaningful educational interaction with visitors is devised, and over all, the uncompromising seriousness with which curatorial activity is approached, is a model for all. I have no reservations of any kind in my strongest support for the proposal for HNF being a model recipient of a Milestone Special Citation.

Dr. Doron Swade, Chair, Computer Conservation Society. Honorary Fellow, Royal Holloway University of London.

Re: Re: Advocate's Assessment -- Dmichelson (talk) 00:24, 22 April 2021 (UTC)

On Apr 21, 2021, at 15:02, John Impagliazzo wrote:

It is with immense pleasure that I wholeheartedly support the IEEE Milestone Special Citation of the Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum (HNF). The museum evolved for more than forty years; German Chancellor Helmut Kohl officially opened it on 24 October 1996. The museum averages more than 110,000 visitors each year and is one of the largest computer museums in the world, with 18,000 square meters of space. The HNF supports a wealth of artifacts and collections spanning five millennia. In addition to guided tours, it conducts computer workshops and educational seminars, and it fosters the discussion of human issues regarding technology and society. Such events demonstrate the effect of information technology on society and the challenges facing people in a technological era. Hence, beyond displaying artifacts, the HNF strives to help people understand the past to have a vision for the future. It is, therefore, befitting that IEEE bestow to the HNF this milestone as a tribute to humanity in an information age.

John Impagliazzo, Ph.D. IEEE Fellow and Life Member Professor Emeritus Hofstra University, New York, USA

Re: Advocate's Assessment -- Dmichelson (talk) 02:22, 22 April 2021 (UTC)

On Apr 21, 2021, at 06:32, William Aspray wrote:

HNF is one of the largest and most important computer museums in the world. It falls in the same class with the Computer History Museum in California and the computer exhibits at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Deutsches Museum, and Science Museum of London. HNF has two primary missions: to be a history museum and a science and technology education museum, and it does an excellent job at both of these missions. As far as the education mission goes, the museum has multiple groups of school children visiting almost every day, as well as tours and other programs for the general public. As for the history mission, the museum has a strong collection of early calculators, and they have supplemented this collection through a combination of purchased and borrowed computing artifacts. The permanent exhibit is historically accurate and insightful, largely a testimony to the lead curator, who today is the head of research at the Deutsches Museum. Special historical exhibits appear almost every year. The museum has a small archival collection and superb conferencing facilities, and the museum has regularly engaged with the international history of computing community. For example, I have visited as a historian of computing at least half a dozen times over the years. I wholeheartedly support this application.

William Aspray, Senior Research Fellow, Charles Babbage Institute, and, 2021 Chair, IEEE Computer Society History Committee

Citation Comments -- Bberg (talk) 19:39, 22 April 2021 (UTC)

Thank you for this proposal.

Please address these issues re: the citation:
1. 1996 should be included as the date of opening of the museum
2. The requirement of "The citation shall be phrased in a way that does not depend on present perspective (e.g., avoid present-tense)." is not met since we don't know what this museum will be doing in the future, or if many other museums of the future will not be larger than this one. Hence, please make changes to at least these phrasings:
2a. "one of the largest in the world"
2b. "continuously adding presentations..."
2c. "digital technology" (is the far future truly determined by digital technology? It may well be more organic apart from digital).

It should be rewritten to include statements more nebulous than these more specific statements, or to say that what it has been doing since its opening in 1996 to allow it to be successful, and that this shows optimism for its future success as the world changes.

Re: Citation Comments -- Dmichelson (talk) 13:49, 28 April 2021 (UTC)

Re: 2c) I remind you that digital does not mean electronic. DNA and protein sequences are inherently digital in nature. Similarly, there have been serious proposals to develop optical computers based upon organic molecules, e.g., bacteriorhodopsin.

Re: Citation Comments -- John Vardalas (talk) 18:57, 29 April 2021 (UTC)

I support this proposal, with he caveat that I prefer the use of the past tense: has provided for provides. I do not think that a Special Citation should for be for things that an institution may or may not do in the future. What it should recognize are achievements as of the date of the Citation.

Re: Re: Citation Comments -- Dmichelson (talk) 20:42, 29 April 2021 (UTC)

Good points. We'll make the change.

slight change of the citation -- Juan Carlos (talk) 15:07, 1 May 2021 (UTC)

As the name of the investigator is taken by the Museum, it is included in the citation w/o discussion. I don’t like the word”detarmined” in the last phrase of the citation; perhaps “shaped” sounds better