Past Exhibition

Silicon City: Computer History Made in New York

November 13, 2015 - April 17, 2016

Using images, artifacts, interactives, and oral histories, the exhibition explores local innovations that were key to computer development, from vacuum tubes and punched cards to transistors, and highlights pioneering work after the 1964 World's Fair, such as the computer graphics revolution born in New York City a decade later.

Every 15 minutes, for nearly a year, 500 men, women, and children rose majestically into “the egg,” Eero Saarinen’s idiosyncratic theater at the 1964 World’s Fair. It was very likely their first introduction to computer logic. Computing was not new. But for the general public, IBM’s iconic pavilion was a high profile coming out party, and Silicon City will focus on this moment to introduce New York’s pivotal role in the Digital Age.

Using images, artifacts, interactives, and oral histories, the exhibition explores local innovations that were key to computer development, from vacuum tubes and punched cards to transistors, and highlights pioneering work after the 1964 World's Fair, such as the computer graphics revolution born in New York City a decade later. Long before Silicon Valley became synonymous with all things digital, New York was a hub for imagining, developing, and selling the technology that ultimately reshaped entertainment, commerce, and daily life. 

Come learn basic computer coding for FREE  during our Pay-as-you-wish Friday evening workshops: January 8, 15, and 29 and every Friday in February. 

Learn more about New York City tech industry's past, present, and future on our exhibition microsite

Silicon City: Computer History Made in New York was developed with the generous cooperation of:

Major support was provided by Google.org, Bernard & Irene Schwartz, The Achelis and Bodman Foundations, Citi, Watson Foundation, AT&T, and the May and Samuel Rudin Family Foundation, Inc.


Public support was provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Exhibitions at the New-York Historical Society are supported by the Saunders Trust for American History.

Exhibitions exploring the history of technology are sponsored by:

Exhibition Highlights

Courtesy of IBM Corporation

Exhibitions at New-York Historical are made possible by Dr. Agnes Hsu-Tang and Oscar Tang, the Saunders Trust for American History, the Evelyn & Seymour Neuman Fund, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature. WNET is the media sponsor.

  • NYC Cultural Affairs
  • NY Council on the Arts

Media sponsor:

  • WNET New York Public Media