Back to where it all began (part 1)

A few years ago I was in the Milton Keynes area on a training course learning how to service printers. There was a chance the course would finish early. I planned to visit Bletchley Park, sadly the course didn't finish early and I had to take more printers apart. I Would rather have rubbed pickled onion in my eyes than be in that room taking printers apart.

Last week I finally made up for that and visited both The National Museum of Computing and Bletchley park.

Computing Museum first. Its not big but it is absolutely packed with amazing computers and machines that in their time were groundbreaking. Learning about Tunny and Robinson and the work that went on in Bletchley park before Colossus was interesting. I hadn't realised that Colossus was the culmination of other work. Everyone knows of Alan Turing and maybe Tommy Flowers but there were so so many other people researching,developing and building the equipment used to crack the German codes.

Seeing the rebuilt Colossus was the highlight of the museum, learning about the work that went into both the development of the original and the rebuild. The Colossus rebuild started in 1993 and completed in 2004. It is on the site where number nine Colossus stood. I recommend reading all the panels that tell the story of Colossus.

Colossus
Colossus

tnmoc_2

If you thought modern processor fans were big
If you thought modern processor fans were big
Don't fall into the computer
Don't fall into the computer

As you walk through the museum the computers get smaller and more powerful, i couldn't help thinking as I took photos on my phone, it has more processing power in such a tiny package than many of the cabinet sized monsters of old but without them my phone probably wouldn't exist as it does now.

Some familiar computers here
Some familiar computers here
I said hello from one museum to another
I said hello from one museum to another
This looks Familiar http://blog.sciencemuseum.org.uk/insight/tag/chrome-web-lab/
This looks Familiar

The displays highlighting the contribution women have made to computing made me really happy. Ada Lovelace is often highlighted as the first computer programmer but then many others are overlooked.

Some of the women who have played a part in the advancement of computers and computer science
Some of the women who have played a part in the advancement of computers and computer science
"She wrote with a Parker 51 fountain pen with permanent black ink and if there was a mistake it had to be corrected with a razor blade."
"She wrote with a Parker 51 fountain pen with permanent black ink and if there was a mistake it had to be corrected with a razor blade."

One particularly event I witnessed was in the room dedicated to the analogue computing and the difference between analogue and digital numbers,electronics and computing. There was a family looking at the exhibits and saying to their daughter "I don't understand this, I can't explain it to you."
This made me sad, I didn't want to butt in or interfere,really wanted to say something but felt it wasn't my place to be explaining things to them, wasn't sure how they would feel about it. The labels and explanations of the interactives all seemed to be very clear and well written. I think the parents were just nervous of the new words and concepts and if they had looked at the exhibits more carefully and slowly they would have understood things fine.

Not going to go into detail about all the other exhibits in the museum,except to say it is a story of computing in the u.k from the second world war to almost the present day. It is not fancy but it is interesting.

Right round the corner to Bletchley park....

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