Tour of – The National Museum of Computing

On the morning of 7th July I attended a teachers’ meeting for GCSE Computing with George Rouse.

A night afternoon At The Museum – Following the meeting, the volunteers from the National Museum of Computing took the teachers on tours of the museum. I took 100s of photos, videos and some audioboos.

Here is an interview with Peter Chilvers using Audioboo 3min36secs (on my phone). I ask him what we can learn from a collection of old technology. If the player below does not work, just click here. Find out what his top recommendation for a visit is.

From Little Acorns – In this video Chris Monk, takes us on a potted history of Acorn computers starting with the first developer boards, through to BBC Model B, Electron, Archimedes A5000 and up to Acorn’s foray into a PC compatible machine. This is both enlightening and relevant, since it explains the domination of the low consumption ARM processor in today’s smartphone market. The video finishes with a demonstration of the 1985 BBC Domesday laser disc project, of which I was one of the contributors!

The Mighty Colossus – Bletchley Park is pretty well known around the world for the role it played in shortening the length of the World War II. At Bletchley Park and the National Museum of Computing there are many fascinatin insights into how computers were used to decipher te secret codes that the German army were using to make transmissions. In this video I describe in a little detail what is happening on a Colossus Mark 2 Computer from 1944. This is a rebuild of the original computer used to decipher German cipher code during the war. Much more accurate information here

Mechanical Binary Counter– In one of the collections at the museum, I found a wooden device that demonstrates counting in binary. If you have never seen me before, now is your chance! I found it a bit tricky to use even after some practice, this is the third attempt I recorded!

Don’t worry, I only count up to 16 – not 255!

Magnetic Storage– There are many collections of artefacts at the museum which demonstrate the problems and solutions used for storing data. Electro-Magnetism features as a tried and tested technique in many of the computers at the museum. Here, a volunteer from National Museum of Computing explains one of the early methods for using electromagnets to store bits on a computer.

Do you know what a slide rule is for? At the National Museum of Computing they have collections of slide rules in many different shapes and sizes. I am sure I have never seen one quite as large as this. If you have ever wondered how to use a slide rule – prepare to be amazed!

(His hand wasn’t really that pink – it’s the auto white balance on my camera phone!)

and finally… I put this at the bottom of the blog for a purpose!

The museum has a vast collection of printed materials, including magazines, hournals, manuals, handbooks etc.

I found a ‘Computer Weekly’ published on the day I was born! Can you work out how old I am now?

One Comment Add yours

  1. sheralee clark says:


    Your information on the National Computing museum were very informative and really interesting. I think it would be a great idea to take students to the museum, but I would have to justify it with links to the curriculum to get approval. I can think of many that would fit the bill, but wondered what you thought would be the best way to justify it meeting links with the curriculum. I am thinking of a year 9 ICT group, who are about to take their options, any feedback would be greatly appreciated.


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