Bletchley Park, where code breaking machines were developed during the Second World War, is to be home to a national museum of computing backed by the British Computer Society and the Codes and Ciphers Heritage Trust. The museum will be housed in Block H of Bletchley Park which was the world's first purpose-built servercomputer …
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Hope you can still play with them!
I went to Bletchley park a few months ago and was amazed to see a room full of good old 'home computers'! They had everything from a commodore pet through ZX 80.81/spectrums to a BBC Micro...
And best of all they were all setup and running to allow visitors to fiddle to their hearts content.....
Needless to say i spent a good half hour re-liviong my schooldaysa and running round to each one and tapping the good old 'Hello World' cliche program!
Seriously - If your a bit of Geek/Nerd/L33t Hakr you really need to visit this place - Amazing!
Yay to BP & Tony Sale & volunteers!
I was there in 2002 for a visit and I hand a lot of credit to Tony Sale (BP volunteer and formerly of the London Science Museum) - he did the lion's share I believe. Google Tony Sale and Colossus to see his great web pages of BP and computing history info
The NSA over here runs a similar museum, the National Cryptological Museum. I stopped in there a few months ago on a visit to the DC area, it's got some really cool stuff, including an Enigma machine you can sit down and play with, goof around with messages and exchange them with people, etc.
Having computers behind glass is not fun. The idea is that, where possible, the general public are able to use the computers in the displays.
I think the 2900 should be separated from things like the Colossus. I've actually used one (at uni) so it's clearly modern equipment and should not be in a museum. Do they have a PDP11/34 as well?
Re: US version
Does the US version still claim ENIAC was the first electronic digital computer?
This is a claim still found in many textbooks (Colossus was earlier).
re: Re: US version
'Does the US version still claim ENIAC was the first electronic digital computer?'
I don't know if the Colossus was electronic or digital but it was certainly first and has been tragically written out of 'computer histories'. I think mainly because it was destroyed and kept secret for so long. Typical British political comedy of errors (see also TSR2, Blue Streak, etc.) .
Just as an aside to the apparent anti Americanism sometimes displayed here. I think it is a reaction to the 'you should be grateful, without us you would be...' sort of attitude displayed by some Americans. Don't forget the US only got involved when the Russians started to turn back the German advances and Japan got going. It wasn't all selfless heroism. This story illustrates that though the US citizens gave, and gave a hell of lot during WWII. The country gained a lot back. Lease-lend was a money spinner. Arms and loans we have only just finished paying for. Huge amounts of land we ceded to the US. Our lead in Computer and Jet engine technologies were given away (a favour not always reciprocated).
I mean, I give thanks to the tens of thousands of US servicemen but it's not all one way. And without us you might all be speaking Russian!
Thank God... I was born and raised in Bletchley and there's nothing else there I can tell thee...
The reason that the USA were able to claim ENIAC as the first for so long was ecause, as the article clearly states, the design (and existence) of the Colossi (there were ten running by 1945) was secret. Colossus is now widely reconised as the earliest, but since this literally changes history, it will take a while for textx written before this became common knowledge to catch up.
The Colossus is a digital machine, and it is programmable for a variety of distinct tasks. It misses out on being stored program, as the algorithm has to be described via plugboards and switches. Interestingly though, cryptographers who wished to run a problem on a Colossus were able to use a symbolic notation to describe their 'program', which would then be translated and plugged up by the operators. Sort of a human compiler.
I have to agree with the earlier posters, if you have any interest in IT at all, which you all obviously do as you're reading the Register (either that or you got lost lookng for Paris Hilton stries) GO AND SEE BLETCHLEY. Tony Sale's Colossus rebuild is knee shakingly incredible. This place is truly the geek Mecca, and you should definitely make the pilgrammage at least once.
I'm pleased as punch that they've got the computer museum up and running, as it gives me a great excuse to go spend some more time there :-)
Another good museum in Silicon Valley
I would love to visit Bletchley Park and see Colossus. Now that it isn't top secret any more, it is becoming legendary. I agree with what others have said, that it will take time to revise history regarding ENIAC.
If you find yourself in Silicon Valley, don't miss the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. (Shameless plug: I am a volunteer there.) We've got some amazing stuff too, although no ENIAC. We have a restored DEC PDP-1 on which I have played Space War (the first videogame, 1962), and thousands of other computers and artifacts.
We are currently preparing for major renovations to our former SGI building, but some exhibits and tours will be available during construction. For instance, we are now setting up a Babbage Difference Engine kindly loaned to us from the UK.
I visited Bletchley Park recently and urge all you geeks to go visit.
Tony Sale, give the guy a knighthood, was there to explain the Colossus.
It is in full operatation ticking and humming like a real computer.