SVNet, manager of .SV, has recently opened ‘El Salvador’s Internet and Computer Science Museum’ with the aim of contributing to the social knowledge of the Internet in the country and its community. Rafael ‘Lito’ Ibarra, President and Executive Director of SVNet, tells us how the Museum was conceived and describes the main pieces displayed in the collection.
What is the Internet and Computer Science Museum about?
The Museum, called “A Little Bit of History” in reference to its small size, celebrates the beginning and evolution of the Internet and Computing in El Salvador and worldwide through the exhibition of unique pieces. Thus, it seeks to document and expand knowledge about the accelerated technological development that we have been witnessing.
What inspired the idea of creating the Museum?
It is a dream that we have been pursuing for several years at SVNet, domain name registry for El Salvador. We want to preserve and pass on our history to current and future technicians, engineers, professionals and citizens interested in knowing a bit of what happened in El Salvador. This purpose encourages us to take care of, collect and put on display some objects that were built and used in the past both in the field of Computer Science and in the efforts to connect us as a country to the Internet.
What can we find in the Museum's collection?
The collection displayed in this Museum features devices such as some of the personal computers, peripheral devices and data storage media that were in use in the early days of personal computing, while the Internet was also spreading around the world in the 1980s and beyond. Examples of these devices are the Sinclair ZX81, Commodore 64, Toshiba Libretto, Texas Instruments Travelmate, the HP Jornada Personal Digital Assistant, and others.
It also includes some pieces and integrated circuits dating from the time when in our country –in the plant that Texas Instruments, Inc. ran in El Salvador until 1985– these chips were manufactured and exported to the world, identified with the legend “El Salvador”. The chips were subsequently used in the manufacture of thousands of devices and personal computers of various brands, in different countries.
A remarkable piece of this exhibition is the computer that was configured and used as the First Domain Name Server. Since December 1995 and for several years, it played the role of master server for the entire .SV top level domain name zone.
Besides the exhibition, what other resources does the Museum offer to learn about the history of the Internet?
The Museum also offers a timeline that highlights the evolution and impact the Internet has had in our country, in the Latin American region and worldwide. The chronology begins in 1969, and covers December 14, 1995, when El Salvador connected to the Internet via a dedicated line from the “Centro” Central of the –then so-called– National Telecommunications Administration (ANTEL). It also registers and displays other events that allowed our country to advance in the use of this powerful tool, as well as the constitution of several regional and global organizations related to the Internet, in which Salvadorans have participated.
Why does SVNet believe it is important to encourage others to learn more about the history of the Internet?
Bringing back pieces and legacies from the past and making them available to present and future generations allows us to know the context and circumstances that shaped our predecessors and, on this basis, continue building our common destiny as a nation and as a community.