Samsung Electronics is marking its 45th anniversary today by opening the Samsung Innovation Museum in Suwon, South Korea. “The Samsung Innovation Museum brings together some of the true historical masterpieces of electronics innovation," said CEO Kwon Oh-hyun at the opening event. "These inventions laid the technological foundation that allowed us to develop and refine products that enhance lives today. The museum gives visitors an opportunity to see where we’ve come from and also see where Samsung draws inspiration from to continue to create category defining products.”
The museum features 150 inventions and products from Samsung as well as individuals and companies that have no ties with the Korean company –– an acknowledgement of its competitors. But you won’t find Apple iPhones or Sony LCD TVs on display, even though both pointed the way to future Samsung profits. I also couldn’t find a single product from old rival LG. As far as the museum is concerned, the modern smartphone revolution began with the Samsung Galaxy S II.
The five-story building has three main exhibition halls –– the Age of Inventors, the Age of Industry Innovation, and the Age of Creation. The Age of Inventors exhibition displays original models of inventions from Thomas Edison, Graham Bell, and Michael Faraday. It also goes into the history of AT&T, Siemens, Philips, GE, and NEC. The Age of Industry Innovation hall puts Samsung products as well as its competitors' on display. The innovations and technological advancements of the semiconductor, display, and mobile industries are also explained. Lastly, the Age of Creation delves into B2B solutions and Samsung's Smart Home –– the company's vision of home automation for the not-too-distant future. The museum separately runs the Samsung History Hall on the first floor, highlighting the chaebol's history and philosophy.
The first and second exhibition halls are fun and informative thanks to Samsung’s interactive transparent displays providing additional information on the exhibits. The museum will no doubt become a popular destination for school trips since students can keep themselves busy interacting with the screens. There’s also an amazing 180-degree 4K panoramic theater playing a clip that tries to convey how Samsung is going to make the world a better place with innovation. Then there’s a section which can only be described as a miniature version of its booth at the annual CES trade show. The space is being used as a platform to show off its vision for the future with a big emphasis on Smart Home –– a product that hasn’t yet attracted worldwide attention.
Samsung has ignored the conventional role of a museum and turned it into something else: a combination of traditional museum and showroom that forgets some of the most innovative moments in tech history. The museum reflects on the past and present world of technology and provides a glimpse into the future designed by Samsung –– a company that desperately wants to be thought of as innovative.
Sam Byford contributed to this report.
Correction: This article previously stated that there were no Sony Trinitron TVs at the museum. In fact, there is one portable model from 1980. We regret the error and have modified the article accordingly.
- 32 moving screens greet visitors.
- The museum is five stories high and 10,950 square meters in total.
- The Age of Inventors exhibition hall.
- Alexander Graham Bell's 1875 telephone behind an interactive transparent display.
- The Maytag electric motor washing machine and Hoover vacuum cleaner that inspired Samsung’s home appliances division.
- A video describes the history of the home appliances market.
- Samsung identifies the Apple II as the "first home computer."
- The museum highlights phones from the past, including the IBM Simon Personal Communicator, Samsung's SCH-V200 camera phone, and the Motorola StarTAC flip phone.
- Smartwatches may be a hot topic in 2014, but Samsung released this Watch Phone back in 1999.
- Samsung engraved its design principles and corporate values on the wall.
- The Samsung History Hall tells the company's story through a series of boxes
- Samsung's vision for the future of wearable computing includes watches, clothing, pendants, and eyewear.
- The Televisor, invented by John Logie Baird, was the first TV sold to the public back in 1930.
- Econo, Samsung's black-and-white TV from 1975. This was one of the company's first TV successes, capitalizing on the demand for energy-efficient products; by 1978, Samsung had over 40 percent of the market in South Korea.
- Samsung's Galaxy S II was a huge hit for the company, selling more than 40 million units.