If Indiana Jones was a Tech Fan and Intel a Treasure Trove, He’d Be Elizabeth Jones

Meet the guardian of Intel’s history and learn how she’s changing how we experience it.

 

If Indiana Jones was a tech fan and Intel Museum his treasure trove, he’d be Elizabeth Jones. Her job, she says, is to “preserve, protect, and display” Intel’s rich history—the wins, the misses, and always the innovation. Now the Intel Corporate Historian is evolving the physical space into a robust virtual experience.

The Intel Museum was born in the 1980s when Jean C. Jones (no relation)—secretary to Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce—noticed a mistake about Intel in a book. Jean didn’t want Intel’s history recorded incorrectly and launched Intel Archives, the precursor to the first iteration of the Intel Museum in 1982.

He doesn’t fetch the newspaper or roll over, but he does talk. Wrinkles, one of the earliest virtual pets in the early 1980s, was powered by an Intel 80C51 microcontroller.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the museum operated 6 days a week averaging 85,000 visitors a year. There, schoolchildren, families, and tech buffs from around the world had the chance to walk through Intel’s 53 years of world-changing technology. Even before the museum’s temporary closing due to the pandemic, Elizabeth wanted to create a virtual experience of its timeline. Her team is now tackling the massive undertaking of capturing the museum’s objects via 3D- and AI-camera technology. Elizabeth hopes the virtual experience “will allow more employees to explore and really learn about our history, the roots of our culture, the evolution our culture has gone through, as a basis for what Intel is today, based on these 53 years of innovations.” The virtual experience is projected to be available to audiences on mobile and desktop before the end of the year.

But how does one come to be Intel’s top archivist to begin with? While Elizabeth doesn’t have an engineering background, she has long been fascinated with technology stemming from a childhood playing with BASIC on her families TRS-80. She’d always loved working with children and planned to be a teacher, but then the opportunity at Intel came from an unexpected source.

A month before their wedding, Elizabeth received a call from her fiancé. He worked for Intel and noticed a job posting. It was perfect for Elizabeth. The only hiccup? It was posted for internal candidates only. However, when they extended the search to external candidates, she applied and the rest, as they say, is history. Which is kind of her thing.

During the past 22-years exploring special memories and stories behind Intel’s famous products, Elizabeth discovered a deep appreciation of history. For her, it all comes down to connections. One of the joys of her career has been seeing people get excited about where their point with Intel’s history meet. One of her favorite quotes about corporate museums goes something like this: “It’s somewhere in the company’s timeline the visitor’s story begins.”

It’s a sentiment she’s seen play out time and time again, including with her own dad. “I was so excited to show [the museum] to him. And my dad was like, ‘Oh, I really want to eat.’ I said give me 10 minutes tops. And I’m walking them through, and we come across a copy of the Popular Electronics Jan 1975 issue that had the Altair 8800 on the cover. We had it on display as the Altair 8800 used an Intel microprocessor, the Intel 8080. He pauses and stares at it. And he just kept staring at it. He finally said, ‘Wow, I just had a flashback to the moment I pulled that issue out of the mailbox.’”

Electronics magazine from 1965
An original 1965 copy of Electronics is now carefully protected in the Intel archives in a climate-controlled environment.

Seeing these personal connections to broad technologies makes the company’s history more than just old processors on a museum shelf. Elizabeth says Intel’s history is about taking risks while honoring what’s most important and continuously progressing forward—and as someone with deep knowledge of the topic, she believes Intel’s best days are still to come.

What’s Liz’s advice to those looking to find their own niche at Intel and help create that future? Get well-rounded and keep an open mind. You never know where you’ll fit in. “I think Intel is such an amazing place to work and, and the opportunities are incredible. You may not know the jobs exist until you really dive into it and look at it. And I would say spend time educating yourself about Intel and looking at the bigger picture. This company definitely has a wide variety of roles, both technical and non-technical.”

Afterall, to make the days ahead the best yet will take passionate, curious team players who can envision themselves in remarkable roles—even ones as unexpected as a corporate museum curator.

 

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