George Keremedjiev originally planned to open the American Computer Museum in Princeton, N.J., but he moved to Montana and opened it in Bozeman instead.
Now 23 years old, the museum is located southwest of Montana State University and features the evolution of technology from radio and television to computers, guided navigation and advanced computation technology.
Among its displays are an original moon watch from the Apollo 15 mission, 1975 software written by Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, the first home video game, and the first edition of Shakespeare's Macbeth. One room, nicknamed "Steve and Steve," contains several items donated by Steve Wozniak, co-founder of the Apple Computer Company with Steve Jobs. The museum also contains original Civil War telegrams, the first computer believed to be sold to the general public, a Star Trek device that led to the development of cellphones, and much more.
"I think what he (Keremedjiev) is doing is wonderful. It's something that MSU can be enormously proud of. It has been done beautifully," said renowned biologist E.O. Wilson who became acquainted with the museum on his visits to Bozeman and through his friendship with Keremedjiev.
In 1997, seven years after opening the museum, Keremedjiev launched the annual awards ceremony that continues to draw computer, communications and technology innovators to MSU. The George R. Stibitz Computer and Communications Pioneer Award goes to living pioneers of the computer, communications and information age. Past winners have included Wilson; Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web; Martin Cooper, an inventor of the cell telephone; and Ross Perot, founder of Electronic Data Systems and U.S. presidential candidate in 1992 and 1996. This year's winners were the "Father of Wi-Fi" Vic Hayes and Ethernet inventor Bob Metcalfe.
This year's Edward O. Wilson Biodiversity Technology Pioneer Award - established in 2009 and presented every year by Wilson -- went to "Father of Green Chemistry" Paul Anastas of Yale University, the world's foremost bee entomologist May Berenbaum of Cornell University and Gary Strobel of MSU, the "Indiana Jones of fungus hunters."
"I was flabbergasted - especially since he (Wilson) came all the way from Harvard to present the award to me," Strobel commented.
The Stibitz award honors the man who pioneered the use of relays for digital computation at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey in 1937. Explaining why he established the Wilson award, Keremedjiev said, "Having met several of the key pioneers of the Internet, I became more and more convinced that the central purpose for such a powerful communications platform surely must encompass much more than social chatter and shopping experiences.
"Ed was chosen because of his revolutionary conception of and advocacy for the establishment of the Encyclopedia of Life (eol.org), which has become a reality and is a living document of life species on Earth," Keremedjiev said. "We wanted to have an example of an Internet-based application that would help to preserve the wonders of biodiversity and after much research, we discovered the hopes of Ed, in a paper that he wrote -- to have all known forms of life documented in a central depository of information to help the preservation of biodiversity on Earth."