National Museum of Computing tells "huge part" of tech history in new software gallery

By Culture24 Reporter Published: 13 June 2013

An "exploded" machine revealing the innards of a PC, a database of computer lingo visitors can add to, an early example of accounting software and a robotics display are among the highlights of a new permanent display at The National Museum of Computing which tells a vital part of technological history.

A photo of a timeline of computer history inside a gallery
© The National Museum of Computing
The four-section Software Gallery has been created by an enterprising group of volunteers at the Bletchley home of computing. It aims to trace the inner workings of everything from huge computers to everyday domestic items, embellishing the world-renowned, seven-decade spanning collection of hardware already on show.

“It dramatically demonstrates the pace of change in computing,” said Sir Charles Dunstone, the Chairman of the Carphone Warehouse and TalkTalk Groups, opening the gallery with a nod to Colossus, the world’s first electronic computer and a star exhibit at the museum.

“Hardware and software have combined to give consumers access to so much information in a way that could not have been conceived of even a few years ago.

“I was particularly impressed to see the enthusiasm and wonder of a party of school pupils learning about their computer heritage as I toured the new gallery."

Jill Clarke, the originator of the gallery, said organisers were looking forward to hearing public feedback.

"Our Museum has some of the most amazing working hardware on display but, as a software engineer, I felt we were missing a huge part of the computing heritage story – the development of software,” she admitted.

“It's been hard work but great fun compiling the gallery.”

A programming challenge and hands-on exhibits aim to sharpen the tech minds of guests, with a wall-sized programming language timeline and the Burroughs L5000 – an early piece of single purpose accounting ingenuity – included.

Chairman Tim Reynolds said the venue had the potential to become “one of the top computing museums in the world”, urging the IT industry to follow the “generous example” of gallery sponsors

Dunstone also announced a competition, to be held at the museum later this year, in which young people will be able to operate one of seven computers from different decades. The aim is to break a world record for the number of software programs run in sequence.

More pictures:

A photo of a man in a suit speaking inside a computer museum
© The National Museum of Computing
A photo of a man and a woman standing inside a technology gallery
© The National Museum of Computing
A photo of a man in a suit giving a presentation inside a gallery full of technological bits
© The National Museum of Computing
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