If you’re a child of the 70s, 80s or 90s, you still remember classics like the 8-bit Super Mario Bros. video games, the portable Game Boy, the Pac-Man arcades and those gigantic heavyweight computer monitors that took up your entire desk. You can find all of these and many other similar things in the Peek&Poke museum in Croatia – a unique place that commemorates gaming, computers and overall technology from the past century.
Peek&Poke was established in the not so distant 2007 in Rijeka. The idea behind it was not just to gather relics from the past, but to offer an authentic, one of a kind place for visitors who can mingle, share interest, forget about boredom, reminisce about the old days, learn new stuff about the old stuff and most of all – be able to play some of the 20th century’s best games on modern and outdated platforms.
Sadly, not everything in the museum is functioning, but attendants can still use a significant portion of the exhibition’s thousands of exponents. Among the famed classics like Donkey Kong are some less successful products, like Nintendo’s infamous and unfruitful attempt to create a VR console in 1995. Yes, I’m talking about the Virtual Boy – the world’s very first VR console aimed for domestic use, which was extremely shortlived and lasted only a few months.
Another fascinating exhibit is the HP 9100 – the very first calculator Hewlett Packard released in the 1960s. And guess what! It still works! It doesn’t look like a calculator at all, of course, but don’t let that voluminous appearance deceive you – all it can do underneath all of that hardware is calculate. Nothing more, nothing less.
But how about actual computers – desktop computers? Peek&Poke has a copy of the commercial flop NeXT Cube – the cutting edge (at least for its time) desktop workstation that was THE computer on which the very first website to ever be published was constructed. Why the very first? Because it was also the computer on which the world’s very first web server was running! And just like the HP, this one is still fully functional today.
And a similar desktop computer, only portable and older, is housed in the Peek&Poke museum – the 1984 IBM Portable. If you were born long before its release date and the only IBM portable device you’ve used is an iPhone, don’t freak out. Despite its gigantic size and hefty weight, the IBM Portable was meant to act as a conveyable laptop and it really was one. Back in the early 1980s having the keyboard and the monitor attached to your computer in a single unit was a truly high end concept.
Of course, computers aren’t the focal point of the exhibition. Portable and non-portable video game consoles and arcade games hold a special place in this museum. 8-bit and 16-bit games for various platforms like Sonic The Hedgehog and Jezzball are hidden among the thousands of pieces – or rather artefacts – from the previous century.
Moreover, a pretty impressive selection of old magazines can also be found in Peek&Poke – from local Croatian classics like BUG to foreign editions from the same era. In other words, you can not only get clear information about the technologies of the past 7-8 decades, but actually see the inventions that shook our world.
And if you think Croatia wasn’t big on technologies before this museum opened and started attracting flocks of visitors, here’s something that will dispute your theory. The pay-by-phone parking meter you can see in so many countries today is a Croatian invention! It was introduced in 2001 under the working product title M-parking. Nowadays it’s used by millions of people and institutions all over the globe.