Sauter, professor of management information systems, stands in front of
Grace´s Place, a new computer museum on the second floor of CCB. Sauter
and three doctoral students worked on the display, which features early
and modern computer technology. The museum is named after computer
pioneer Grace Murray Hopper.
Louis is the home of Grace's Place, a welcoming museum of the history
of computers. Located on the second floor of the Campus Computer
Building, Grace's Place houses a wide variety of technology, both
current and outdated.
The museum has a variety of keyboards, including one in Hebrew. Many of
the pieces are dismantled, allowing students to see the internal
structure of the computers. Vicki Sauter, professor of management
information systems, came up with the idea for Grace's Place 15 years
"As technology changes, people lose what it was," Sauter said. "You
must know where technology came from to know where it is going. The
more you know about computers, the less frightened you are."
Sauter and three doctoral students began work on Grace's Place last
summer. They gathered display cases and began to decide on the pieces
that would make it into the museum. Most of the items came from student
donations, professors and friends of the University.
Sauter is planning to continue to add to the museum. They receive most of the displays through donations.
"We look for items that are unique, show trends and show different perspectives," Sauter said.
The museum is named after Grace Murray Hopper (1906 - 1992), a woman
who played an integral part in the early stages of computer technology.
Hopper founded a computer language named COBOL. She also coined the
term "computer bug" after finding a moth in an early computer that she
was working on.
A sign in the museum records Hopper's account of the discovery: "Things
were going badly; there was something wrong in one of the circuits of
the longs glass-enclosed computer. Finally, someone located the trouble
spot and, using ordinary tweezers, removed the problem, a 2-inch moth.
From then on, when anything went wrong with a computer, we said it had
bugs in it."
Hopper fought for and won entry into the Navy, reaching the rank of
rear admiral before she retired at the age of 80. She was also the
first woman to have a battleship in her name. She received the National
Medal of Technology in 1991.
Hopper also believed in showing physical examples of abstract ideas.
Grace's Place displays a 12-inch strand of wire, which represents how
far an electrical current can move in a nanosecond.
These physical representations of concepts that the normal student is
not able to see or touch is just one of the many things that inspired
Sauter to create this museum.
"It helps students visualize what they are learning," Sauter said. "Physical representations help make abstract ideas clearer."
Many of the students who have visited the museum find it enlightening.
"All the old computers are interesting," Tatum Megli, junior, special
education, said. "It was really neat to see what the inside of them
looks like. I didn't even know it was here."
The entire UM-St. Louis community is invited to a grand opening for Grace's Place, scheduled for March 19 at 4 p.m.