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Gates donates $15 million to computer museum

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San Francisco (dpa) - Bill Gates is donating a fraction of his huge Microsoft fortune to a museum dedicated to preserving the history of computers.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is giving 15 million dollars to help the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, maintain what it says is the world's largest collection of computing artifacts, the museum said in a statement Monday.

Dedicated to exploring the social impact of computing, the museum includes such rare objects as the Cray-1 supercomputer, the Apple I, the WWII Enigma, the Palm Pilot prototype, and the 1969 Honeywell "Kitchen Computer".

The gift from the world's richest couple will help the Silicon Valley institution reach its goal of raising 125 million dollars for educational programmes and a long-term endowment.

The museum will also use the donation for its "Timeline of Computing History," an ambitious interactive exhibit that seeks to chronicle the history of computing and its impact on the human experience. The exhibit is expected to open in 2009.

"The impact on our society of the computing revolution is simply breathtaking - it has changed the way we work, play, learn, and communicate," Gates said.

"It's our responsibility to collect the artifacts and stories today that will explain this incredible change to future generations. I believe that the Computer History Museum is uniquely positioned to do this."

Copyright 2005 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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