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

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Join the club – at The National Museum of Computing!

Margaret Sale (pic: TNMOC)
Margaret Sale (pic: TNMOC)

Anyone with an interest in computing history can join a new club at The National Museum of Computing (TNMOC) at Bletchley Park, to develop their passion and support the ongoing development of one of the great computing museums of the world.

Margaret Sale, with an extraordinary computer heritage background as a TNMOC trustee, founder member of the Save Bletchley Park Campaign of the 1990s, and wife of the late Tony Sale who led the Colossus Rebuild team, has agreed to become the Club’s first president providing a link from the past to the present.

To launch the new club, an inaugural Members’ Open Day and Annual General Meeting was held on Saturday 28 March 2015.

Chairman (elect) of the TNMOC Club, John Linford, said: “The TNMOC Club aims to support the important work of the museum and provide an engaging programme for people of all ages who are interested in computer history. The club will arrange technical and social events for members as well as offering on-line facilities, which are essential as we have members all over the world.

“We are delighted that Margaret Sale has agreed to become our first President. Margaret has been involved with the museum since its inception. Her enthusiasm for and knowledge of the early days of computing are infectious.”

Margaret Sale said: “It’s a great honour to be asked to be the first President of the TNMOC Club. I plan to be very active in its support as I fully understand just how important the role of committed supporters has and will be in helping the Museum to continue to grow.”

Tim Reynolds, Chairman of TNMOC, said: “The Trustees really appreciate this initiative and are happy to support this Club. It’s been a revelation to watch the growing interest in computing heritage while I have been associated with the Museum and I have no doubt that this community initiative will be a very important facet of our fast-developing Museum.”

Member benefits include a season ticket to the Museum, a regular newsletter InSync, a Yahoo Group to contact other members, shop, lecture and room-booking discounts.

All existing TNMOC members will automatically become members of the new club which is a separate entity to the TNMOC Volunteers’ Association.

If you would like to join or find out more about the Club, please go to http://www.tnmoc.org/support/become-member or email membership@tnmoc.org

Continue reading Join the club – at The National Museum of Computing!

GEEKs invade Birmingham this weekend!

Heroes and Villains is the theme
Heroes and Villains

This weekend, geeks and gamers will be an even more common sight in Birmingham, England than usual, as the GEEK festival moves north from its usual home in Margate, Kent – and this latest event has the theme of Heroes and Villains!

Since 2012 the event has run in the February school half term, inviting people to come and play in the seaside town in the winter.  But this time the geeks roadshow – organised by Marine Studios – and its hordes of fans old and new – are expected to rock up early, at the Custard Factory arts and events creative quarter and venue  in Gibb Street, Birmingham – in the heart of the ‘second city’.

Retro Gaming and geekery galore in Brum

From Friday 19 – Sunday 21 September, the GEEKS will be bringing you all the best retro video gaming from Replay Events! Classic and modern games will be available to play, alongside quirky games like Punch The Custard.  You’ll also be able to chat to indie developers, check out props from blockbuster movies and geek out to your heart’s content. Tickets are on sale NOW – check out the GEEK website for opening hours and advance tickets, and day tickets can also be purchased on the day/night.

Continue reading GEEKs invade Birmingham this weekend!

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.

Swindon Museum of Computing children’s events

Museum of Computing logo

Loads of fun for all the family is programmed for the Museum of Computing in Swindon, Wiltshire this weekend!

Summer Activities

In the last of this month’s Children’s summer activities, the Museum, which is in Theatre Square, opens its doors on Friday 29 and Saturday 30 August for a  Codes and Ciphers Treasure Hunt! Can you crack the 6 coded messages, find the hidden treasure in the museum and claim your prize?

All activities are free, but standard museum admission charges apply (adult admission £2, children £1, concessions £1.50 and families £5).

The Museum

The Museum of Computing opens its doors on Fridays and Saturdays and offers a fascinating glimpse into a subject that many of us can’t help but connect with.

Although it provides a serious record of serious computing, as you might expect, the Museum of Computing is also high on nostalgia. Many exhibits are devoted to home computing, so you are likely to encounter a few old ‘friends’ in the shape of games consoles and primitive PCs.

The Museum of Computing offers educational opportunities for all ages with Saturday morning computer club for children. There is a waiting list for these sessions so please contact the Museum of Computing on info@museumofcomputing.org.uk.

Continue reading Swindon Museum of Computing children’s events

Get in a jam – Sinclair Spectrum style!

SpeccyJam logo - courtesy SpeccyJam

Coming soon to a cyberspace portal near you is a great worldwide coding event which pays tribute to the spirit everyone’s favourite rubber-keyed wonder, the Sinclair Spectrum home computer, which started the home computer gaming revolution in the 1980s.

#Speccyjam  is a regular world wide one week game jam, where indie game developers come together to create games with the flavour of the famous British 8-bit retro gaming legend – and the next event is on 29 August – 5 September, 2014.

Game developers may work alone or as part of a team, and can use any game engine or dev tools to create their game. It can be developed for ANY device or platform… it doesn’t matter as long as it looks and feels like a Spectrum game!

Your game doesn’t have to run on an actual Spectrum, or an emulator – It can run in whatever environment you are comfortable with, just as long as people can play it when it’s finished.

Find out more at:

www.speccyjam.com

and check out some of last year’s #SpeccyJam games here:

www.speccyjam.com/games/

The Retrocomputing heart of the Midlands is Leicester!

Retro Computer Museum logo

Did you know that one of the meccas for British retrocomputing fans is in Leicester, England?

The Retro Computer Museum, which opened its new HQ in March 2013 at the Troon Way Business Centre off Humberstone Lane, is a registered charity dedicated to the benefit of the public for the preservation, display and public experience of computer and console systems from the 1960s onwards.

RCM Weekender, May 2011 - courtesy Retro Computer Museum
RCM Weekender, May 2011 – courtesy Retro Computer Museum

The museum’s main focus is on systems that were in use in the home, rather than big computer systems and mainframes of early computer development. They have systems ranging from the early Pong consoles through the Sega and Nintendo console wars and the home computers of the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64s and Amigas.  From the famous to the obscure, the rooms at the museum are packed solid with fascinating bygone gadgets, and software from floor to ceiling!

The guys from the Retro Computer Museum at Revival 2014 with their virtual reality machines behind (pic: Stuart Williams)
The guys from the Retro Computer Museum at Revival 2014 with their virtual reality machines behind (pic: Stuart Williams)

And this museum and its enthusiastic volunteers certainly punch above their weight when it comes to retro events, having made important contributions to the content of Revival 2014 at Dunstall Park, Wolverhampton, and Silicon Dreams at Snibston Discovery Museum, as well as Spectrum @ 30 (at Anglia Ruskin University) and their own series of RCM Gaming Events, for example.

Continue reading The Retrocomputing heart of the Midlands is Leicester!

computer history, retro gaming and computing today