The Death and Life of the '90s Computer Show

Though computer shows were unglamorous, they were also prescient in a way that bears re-examination. To attend a computer show in the 1990s was to experience an unlikely celebration of the tinkerers and inventors who saw mechanical systems not as products to be consumed, but systems that could be bent and modified and tuned to their particular needs. In the years before our devices became sealed and seamless fetish-objects, computer shows were a brief but vibrant manifestation of the open-source spirit underlying all great technological innovations: invention as play. And among today’s tech-savvy young people, that same spirit is again in resurgence.