The National Museum of Computing Tour



during World War two Bletchley Park in rural Buckinghamshire was once Britain's best kept secret in these huts and on cheering and his team devised electromechanical decoding of encrypted Nazi messages appropriately Bletchley is now home to the National Museum of computing the museum came about as an idea by a group of trustees who wanted to capitalize on this wonderful location that is Bletchley Park the birthplace of modern computing and tell the story of computing from that first ever computer the Colossus through to the present day and let people know about developments for the future as well I've done a lot of research on the history of early computers and I knew how important the Colossus was and so when we came to Victory Park and that gave me the excuse the rebuilding is an undulator and basically all it is is a pen record this is an Elliott 803 to give us official title 803b this computer here is round about 1960 to build one of the things for the schools when they come here like to have is the interaction with computers and this is where the children come in here and they can realize how really good old games were the items came together from a variety of sources different groups of volunteers working within computer conservation groups identifying artifacts that we felt would make good displays in the museum they've been gifted to us and assigned to us over time and now we're assembling them into different displays from the very early days of computing even pre computing with slide rules and calculators right the way up to well machines like the one that I'm sitting next to from the 70s which is an air traffic control system right the way through to modern-day machines all about the personal computer and its transition during World War two the German Lorentz cipher machine created coded messages which were transmitted by radio to the Nazi war machine these transmissions were intercepted and sent to Bletchley Park and the world's first electronic programmable computer Colossus will calculate the key code which then enabled messages to be deciphered the intercepted Nazi radio signals were printed out initially onto paper tape by an undulator but basically all it is is a pen recorder that traced out the telegraph signals being picked up by the receivers on to a narrow paper tape called slip pass would interpret these messages by hand and then transfer them into punched paper tape but Colossus to make the massive calculations which produce the key for that day Colossus used over 2,500 vowels and thousands of feet of wiring and was built by a team of brilliant post office engineers when I started to try and find out all the information about it of course it was still top-secret classified I managed to define a ten fragments of circuit diagram kept illegally by engineers as engineers always do I didn't tell GCHQ I've got them that time otherwise they would have been removed from me but I got them and that was the important game that machine worked so fast that it was able to break those codes in time for Churchill and the War Cabinet to know that the deception for the Normandy landings have been successful and therefore saving many lives I felt very confident that we would be able to rebuild it Tommy flowers was a post office engineer so he used standard post office equipment went down to stores and got them and so Colossus is built from standard telephone exchange equipment and luckily for us British Telecom was decommissioning old mechanical exchanges lots of scrap around so when they were decommissioning an exchange I back to lorry up at the back door collected the scraps and recycled it we started by first of all getting the bedstead working and so this is reading the pate paper tape optically with a with a lens projecting an image of the holes in the paper tape through onto a photo cells and that's exactly how it was done in World War two it's a well stated fact that the work that was done here at Bletchley Park shortened the war by at least two years the computer was born and by the 1950s the Atomic Energy Research Establishment in Harwell was using this machine this is Howell decadron computer it's here on loan from billing and collection center for five years during which time we're going to restore it to full working order and at that point you could reveal the spoofing computer in the world the operators were still reading paper tape and using vows but by the sixties things were changing this is an Elliott 803 to give us a fishel title 803b this is a basic machine and we have a control consort here which is what the operator would have used to operate the computer but you notice there's no keyboard typewriter keyboard there's no monitor there's no flashing lights what we have got is a loud speaker volume control speakers here that the operator actually listened to the computer but in 1962 this machine would have cost 50,000 pounds the computer operating speed was 2,000 characters 2,000 instructions a second that the machine itself the computer itself is transistorized and it was quite small for a computer at that time by the 1970s big companies and governments were beginning to realize the full potential of using computers to run their daily business giant mainframe computers like this occupied vast areas of our building and this is complete and it's got 19 disk drives for nap take units two line printers and processors and this is we're going to kick this out mechanic working now that will be probably the only working mainframe in the world in the 1980s the computer began to move into our homes and the National Museum of computing specie gallery shows just how rapid the development of the home computer really was this is a hands-on area for the museum and we've got many machines that you may remember from your youth and it's basically chronicling the evolution of the whole computer really as well as interactive displays the PC gallery shows the timeline of technical development and how it became the backdrop to the events of the 70s up until the present day today probably the biggest influence on our lives has been the internet or the World Wide Web and this is the NPL Gabrielle celebrates the birth of the Internet which was indeed a British invention and here you can see interviews with the original designers and experience of the Internet connectivity the NPL display also features a timeline tracing the british development of the web and the effect it would have on us and on world government the museum is a great educational experience there's a chance to interact with a displays and children learn more about how we can get the answer to virtually any question simply by using a computer connected to the web just a checking museum with things in glass boxes this is a working environment to be able to show people how machines worked in the old days what support the programs the procedures need to face that people was and show all that here in a live format that's the essence of this National Museum of computing the National Museum of computing in Bletchley Park creates a living history until is a story of computer development from those early dark days in world war ii to the world of home computers and the internet of today if you'd like to support the museum or make a corporate donation please contact us at WWE you

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