Category Archives: Cambridge

Cambridge computing history lecture next week

Dr Andrew Herbert (pic Wolfson College)
Dr Andrew Herbert (pic Wolfson College)

The latest talk in the Wolfson @ 50: Fiftieth Anniversary Lecture Series at Wolfson College, University of Cambridge, England is set to take place next Wednesday, 17 June 2015.

The distinguished lecturer, Dr Andrew Herbert, Emeritus Fellow of the College, will be speaking in Lee Hall, Wolfson College, on the fascinating topic ’50 years of Computing – A Cambridge Perspective’, between 18:0018:50.

When Wolfson was founded, computers were large, expensive machines only used by a privileged few. In this the College’s 50th anniversary year we are surrounded by computers, most of which are seen as essential, everyday consumer items. Dr Herbert will tell the story of how Cambridge has contributed to the evolution of the computer from the mainframe to the cloud and offer a view on what the next 50 years might hold.

To take his audience back to 1965, Dr Herbert hopes to be able to demonstrate a working Elliott minicomputer from the mid 1960s – the kind of machine on which he first learned to program in 1970. The size of two chest freezers, weighing over 300kg and costing the equivalent of £200,000 at present day prices, the 903 has a tiny fraction of the memory and computing power of a modern Raspberry Pi computer.

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Arc-Aid returns to Cambridge!

Arc-Aid (pic Centre for Computing History)
Arc-Aid (pic Centre for Computing History)

Arcade enthusiasts and retro gamers are being invited to take part in a special event where they can have fun while finding out about some fabulous machines – and hopefully help bring them back to life!

After two previous great weekends of arcade machine tech talk, gaming and retro fun, the Centre for Computing History in Cambridge is all set to open its doors once again for another weekend meet-up and knowledge exchange later this month.

The latest ‘Arc-Aid: Cambridge’ event is being held at the Cambridge Computer Museum on Saturday 13th June (and following on to the Sunday 14th for those wishing to continue!) with the aim of bringing together members of the online arcade community to repair and restore some of the museum’s arcade machines.

Engineers from across the country will gather to open arcade cabinets, extract circuit boards, solder, prod and probe until the dulcet tones of arcade machines springing back to life fill the museum (waka-waka-waka!).

Arcade-centric talks will be held throughout the day and there’ll also be a special PCB workshop session for arcade community members. This will offer opportunities for practical knowledge exchange and members are invited to bring their own faulty games. Visitors to the museum will be able to view restoration work in progress and experience a selection of awesome arcade and pinball machines!

There were some successes at the last events and the museum is  hoping this will continue for the next one!

Ticket prices are as follows:

  • Adult £7.00
  • Child £5.00
  • Family (2 Adults, 2 Children) £20.00

Ticket prices are for the entire weekend. Keep your booking receipt for entry on both days.

Book online here: Arc-Aid (Part 3) Booking

For more information on the museum, visit their website: http://www.computinghistory.org.uk/

Go adventuring in Cambridge – and create your own world!

Go with the flow - and build your own adventure (Pic: Centre for Computing History)
Go with the flow – and build your own adventure (Pic: Centre for Computing History)

Text adventuring is one of the oldest and greatest of retro-computing game genres – and now modern computer fans can also discover how such ‘interactive fiction’ games play out – after building their own!

The Centre for Computing History in Cambridge, England is offering visitors the chance to build an adventure game using a special system known as ‘Twine’, during a workshop next Wednesday 27 May.

Twine is a brilliant online tool for constructing interactive stories, and the museum in Rene Court, Coldhams Road,  is inviting adventurers of all ages to come along and learn to use it to build a tale of dragons, spaceships or spies (or maybe all three in one story!) that you or your friends can then play through. You’ll be able to let your imagination loose and maybe learn a thing or two about coding whilst you’re at it.

Entrance to the Centre (Pic: Centre for Computing History)
Entrance to the Centre (Pic: Centre for Computing History)

This workshop, which starts at 2pm, is aimed at children aged seven and up.  Adults are welcome too! Please note that all under 14’s must be accompanied by a responsible adult.

If you’d like to see an example of Twine in action, try playing The Amazing Tale of the Storytelling Workshop, a Twine game that the Centre have put together themselves.  You’ll discover lots more about the workshop that way and have a fun adventure at the same time!  It will open in a new window and will play in all common web browsers.

Standard museum entry fees apply:  £7 for adults, £5 for children, and £20 for a family (2 adults and 2 children). There is no additional charge for this event.

Although the booking is for a specific time slot, entry to the museum is permitted all day.  The museum is open from 10 am to 5 pm.

Tea, coffee and snacks will be available from our Pac Lunch Shop.  And, plenty of seating for parents 🙂

Places are limited. Tickets must be booked in advance.  Follow this link to book:

http://www.computinghistory.org.uk/det/37672/Build-your-own-text-adventure-27-May-2015/

Payment is taken by PayPal immediately. Please print a copy of the receipt that is displayed at the end of the payment process and bring it with you as your e-ticket.

For more about the Centre, check out their website:

http://www.computinghistory.org.uk/

Computing fun with bugs – in Cambridge!

A different kind of computer bug! (Pic: Centre for Computing History)
A different kind of computer bug! (Pic: Centre for Computing History)

Youngsters visiting the Centre for Computing History in Cambridge next week will have the chance to experiment with a less common ‘bug in the system’,  when the popular establishment in Rene Court, Coldhams Road is offering the chance to build a Crawling Microbug that will definitely impress everyone you know!!

On Wednesday 27 May, from 11am, they’ll be turning their Hauser Studio into an Electronics Lab., complete with soldering stations set-up and their in-house electronics expert ready to help children assemble, solder and test their very own crawling microbug ready to take home with you. What a great souvenir!

Ideal for budding electronics engineers or anyone interested in learning to solder, this is a great project where you get to build a robot bug which loves light and scuttles towards areas where it can find some!

This is a lively and unique workshop aimed at children aged from seven upwards. All under 16’s must be accompanied by a responsible adult.

Spaces are limited for this hands-on session, so booking is required to ensure your place.  You can do this online by following this link:

http://www.computinghistory.org.uk/det/37660/Electronics-Lab-Build-A-Bug-27-May-2015/#

Payment is taken by PayPal immediately. Please print a copy of the receipt that is displayed at the end of the payment process and bring it with you as your e-ticket.

Please note: Whilst the Centre will make every effort to help ensure your Microbug works, careful assembly and soldering is required and they cannot be held responsible for any non-working Microbugs due to poor assembly.

This workshop session is priced at £22.00 per participant and includes the cost of the kit and entry to the museum!

Check out the Centre’s website here:

http://www.computinghistory.org.uk/

 

Project Odyssey is a smash for computer museum

Jason Fitzpatrick shows off rows of BBC Micros's and Raspberry Pi's at Gadget Show Live (Pic: Stuart Williams, RCN)
Jason Fitzpatrick shows off rows of BBC Micros’s and Raspberry Pi’s at Gadget Show Live (Pic: Stuart Williams, RCN)

The Centre for Computing History, the popular and fast-growing museum in Cambridge, England, is popping the corks in celebration following the massive success of their recent ‘Project Odyssey’ fundraising campaign!

The first stage of the project was launched on 10 March by museum patron Dr Hermann Hauser (of Acorn fame) and is now finished, having raised £100,000. What’s more, as this figure was reached within 30 days, it will now be matched by the generosity of Cambridge-based Redgate Software, bringing the total amount to a staggering £200,000!

The aim was to raise £110,000 to complete the refurbishment of the Centre’s main gallery and create a new core exhibition – ‘Tech Odyssey’ – which will chart the global impact of the computing revolution.

Computing education is fun - retro or otherwise! (Pic: Stuart Williams, RCN)
Computing education is fun – retro or otherwise! (Pic: Stuart Williams, RCN)

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Still time to donate to Project Odyssey

Curator Jason Fitzpatrick, left, with Simon Galbraith of Redgate Software (pic: Centre for Computing History)
Curator Jason Fitzpatrick, left, with Simon Galbraith of Redgate Software (pic: Centre for Computing History)

One of the UK’s top computer museums has almost reached the destination of its latest fundraising effort – but you can still contribute if you donate by 10 April 2015!

Following presentations from the museum’s trustees and the launch of the new fundraising campaign – Odyssey – by museum patron Dr Hermann Hauser on 10 March by the Centre for Computing History in Cambridge, England, Simon Galbraith, CEO of Redgate Software (pictured above), threw down “a symbolic gauntlet” – and the response so far has been, according to the museum, “wonderful”.

Back in March the invited audience held their breath as Simon issued the challenge: “Redgate Software will match every pound donated to this appeal, up to £100,000, in the next 30 days.”

What’s the campaign all about? Well, the Centre is hoping to raise £110,000 to complete the refurbishment of its main gallery and create a new core exhibition – Tech Odyssey: a learning adventure – which will chart the global impact of the computing revolution.

Curator, Jason Fitzpatrick, explains: “In its present condition this building fails to do justice to the richness and variety of our collection. Although visitors can see, touch and use many of the ‘superstar’ machines of the 70s, 80s and 90s, we lack the funds needed to create an exhibition that charts how each of these computers represents a step towards the small, powerful, multi-purpose devices most of us use today.

(pic: Centre for Computing History)
(pic: Centre for Computing History)

“Refurbishment of the gallery and creation of a new exhibition, Odyssey, will help us tell the inspirational and epic story of the computing revolution to anyone – young and old, techie and non-geek alike.

Continue reading Still time to donate to Project Odyssey

Cambridge computer history to benefit from Heritage Lottery Fund

Entrance to the Centre for Computing History (courtesy CCH)
Entrance to the Centre for Computing History (courtesy CCH)

One of the UK’s largest museums in its field, the Centre for Computing History in Cambridge, England has announced that it has ‘downloaded’ a substantial £85,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to support a vitally important historical project: Viva Computer! A People’s History of Home Computing. 

Computers have transformed our modern world; innovations in home and professional computing have irreversibly changed our ways of thinking, from communicating and organising, to work, life, and play! Many people access computers in their daily lives, but few know about the inspiring and remarkable technological breakthroughs and stories behind the development of the machines, the software and the games they use.

Increasing understanding

The fast-paced nature of the computing industry, along with its tendency to discard irrelevant technology as soon as it becomes outdated, means that the heritage around its origins and subsequent developments is at risk of being lost.  The Centre for Computing History aims to preserve this fundamental part of our heritage and ensure it is valued, celebrated and secured for posterity.

The Rene Court, Coldhams Road-based educational charity and not-for-profit company, which opened its current premises in August 2013, has the core purpose of increasing understanding of developments in computing over the past sixty years by exploring the social, cultural and historical impact of the Information Age.

L to R: Christopher Curry, Iain Sinclair, Sir Clive Sinclair, CCH Director – Jason Fitzpatrick, CCH Projects - Jane Phillimore, CCH Communications - Elaine Symonds  at a Sinclair celebration weekend held at CCH earlier this year (courtesy CCH)
L to R: Christopher Curry, Iain Sinclair, Sir Clive Sinclair, CCH Director – Jason Fitzpatrick, CCH Projects – Jane Phillimore, CCH Communications – Elaine Symonds at a Sinclair celebration weekend held at CCH earlier this year (courtesy CCH)
 Silicon Fen

Known locally and to many hobbyists and computing professionals as ‘Silicon Fen’, Cambridge has been, for many years, a home to global advances in technology – including some of the most important companies and innovators of the British ‘home computer revolution’ of the 1980s-90s and those that followed – but there has been no systematic attempt to preserve this rich heritage. Viva Computer! will redress this need and uncover  the memories of the past. Focusing on the people, technological breakthroughs, computers and businesses that created, developed and sustained the ‘Cambridge Phenomenon’ – the funding announced will bring these stories to life for a present day audience.

Making history

Volunteers, trained and managed by two part-time staff, will learn practical heritage skills including how to research, record and develop a compelling history of home computing in the Cambridge area from the 1960s, and explore its relevance for today in ways that are educational and engaging.

The heritage will be shared in meaningful, exciting ways through a freely available digital archive, wide-ranging learning resources, and an end festival with events and workshops.

Time to capture the magic before it fades

Commenting on the award from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Jason Fitzpatrick, director at the Centre for Computing History said:

“We are delighted and deeply grateful to have received the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund for this important and timely project.

“There is a real need to capture the memories of industry pioneers, or their stories risk being lost forever. Many active members of the vibrant tech community are now aged in their 70s and 80s. Viva Computer! provides the opportunity to share their stories and make them publicly available.

“The over-arching aim of the project is to help people capture the ‘magic’, to engage with the industry’s heritage and history of innovation, and come to a better understanding of the most important cultural development of the last 100 years.”

Thrilling!

Stuart Hobley, Development Manager for Heritage Lottery Fund said:

“It is always thrilling to revisit the video games of your childhood… and this project is about so much more! This is a really exciting project that will reveal the history behind technology we often take for granted. Thanks to Lottery players’ money, we can now all learn more about the lives of those remarkable local visionaries who brought computer technology into our everyday world.”

Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help to build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage.

In the East of England, HLF has awarded more than £400m to over 3,500 projects, www.hlf.org.uk.

The Centre at the heart of Silicon Fen
Former chairman of Microsoft Research, Cambridge, Andrew Herbert with a young visitor to the museum (courtesy CCH)
Former chairman of Microsoft Research, Cambridge, Andrew Herbert with a young visitor to the museum (courtesy CCH)

The Centre for Computing History (CCH) has an internationally significant collection of vintage home computers, memorabilia, artefacts, documents and hands-on displays – in total about 24,000 items.

The core collection consists of 800 historic computers including an Altair 8800, usually considered the first home computer, as well as mobile phones, games consoles and calculators.

The Centre is currently developing two new Cambridge-related archives: a Sinclair collection and an Acorn collection.

See www.computinghistory.org.uk for more information.