Project Blinkenlights was founded with the creation of Blinkenlights, the original interactive light installation that came to life on September 11, 2001 (no kidding) at Haus des Lehrers in Berlin, Germany. Many people know that Project Blinkenlights evolved out of the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) and are inquiring about the history of Project Blinkenlights so we want to share this story with you.
In 2001, the founder of the Chaos Computer Club - Wau Holland - died at age 49 from a stroke. This came as a shock to the german hacker community and all the members of the CCC who admired Wau for his lifetime achievements and his special personality.
In 2001 the CCC was about to celebrate its 20th anniversary. So in the wake of the bad news we decided to create a party we all will never forget in honor of Wau. So we went ahead and planned that party, a five-day exhibition on the CCC (running under the XXCCC moniker) and a special project being a present to the CCC and the city of Berlin.
The CCC decided to turn the famous Haus des Lehrers building at Berlin Alexanderplatz into world's biggest interactive computer display.
It's all in the name
The name "Blinkenlights" is a term that is part of hacker history. If you look it up in the Jargon File, you find it to be defined as "front-panel diagnostic lights on a computer". The original wording derives from a funny sign computer people liked to put on the door of the rooms housing their technical equipment.