The History and Future of Computing — Seen through the Science Museum

Dr Tilly Blyth, a curator at the UK’s Science Museum, spoke about the considerations shaping the design of a planned exhibit on the history and future of computing. She speaks about ‘Ernie’ and many other famous developments in computing within the UK and world wide. You can see her presentation on our Web site at: http://webcast.oii.ox.ac.uk/

If you have comments or suggestions for Dr Blyth, then you may comment on this blog, and I will make sure they are communicated to Tilly.

Thanks for your interest and feedback.

Bill

3 thoughts on “The History and Future of Computing — Seen through the Science Museum

  1. ERNIE stands for the Electronic Random Number Indicator Equipment that became quite famous in 1957. Stephanie Shirley, the first benefactor of the OII, worked on ERNIE as a statistician, validating the results of its random number generation. There is a useful article by Julian Champkin on Dame Stephanie Shirley’s Web site, entitled ‘The Importance of Being ERNIE’.

    Bill

    See: http://www.steveshirley.com/search.asp?subsection=Results&keywords=Ernie&x=0&y=0&phonetics=1

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  2. In November 2005, responding to a letter from Dr. Tilly Blyth, I furnished several documents about the start-up of the BBC Networking Club ISP associated with “The Net” that Blyth had worked on in the early internet days in the UK. And, I attended the Filtering Conference last May at OII. I have watched the full webcast of Blyth’s recent presentation in Oxford. While I found all Blyth’s remarks of special interest, I listened especially to her statements about Science Museum exhibitions future focus on the differences between analogue, digital and early hybrid computer systems. One theme I use often with my electronic/internet students at the University of North Alabama (in Huntsville-Decatur-Florence TV Market) is that “humans are analogue”. My lectures address significance of the internet’s sight and sound media interactive channels when I use the phrase. Current social networking trends bring ideas of analogue importance to the fore. Human-like analogue serves internet’s users/audience best. The computer digital interface must always end up in the analogue form — unless the software is talking to other digital technology. Please see a 13 year history of Chotank.com website with its analogue BBC roots at: http://www.chotank.com/gindez.html

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  3. As Bill says, I’d be very interested in comments or thoughts about successful and less successful display of computing in museums.

    In terms of Analogue computers our Dan Dare exhibition recently enabled our Elliot G-PAC Analogue computer to go on display. See the exhibition’s object wiki http://objectwiki.sciencemuseum.org.uk/wiki/Elliott_Analogue_Computer

    And for anyone particularly keen on ERNIE 1, of Premium Bond fame, the exhibition will be opening at the Science Museum on 26th June 2008.

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