The National Museum of Computing

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The National Museum of Computing
Tnmocsign.jpg
The Entrance
Established 2007
Location Bletchley Park, UK
Coordinates 51°59′55″N 0°44′37″W / 51.9985°N 0.7435°W / 51.9985; -0.7435
Website www.tnmoc.org

The National Museum of Computing is a museum in the United Kingdom dedicated to collecting and restoring historic computer systems.[1] The museum is based in rented premises at Bletchley Park in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire[2] and opened in 2007. The building — Block H — was the first purpose-built computer centre in the world, hosting six Colossus computers by the end of World War II.

The museum houses a rebuilt Mark 2 Colossus computer alongside an exhibition of the most complex code cracking activities performed at the Park, along with examples of machines continuing the history of the development of computing from the 1940s to the present day. The museum has a policy of having as many of the exhibits as possible in full working order.

Although located on the Bletchley Park 'campus', The National Museum of Computing is an entirely separate charity with its own fund raising and separate entrance/ticketing. TNMOC receives no public funding and relies on the generosity of donors and supporters.

The Museum is working with four other organisations, in a group called Qufaro, to create the National College of Cyber Security for students between 16 and 19 years of age. To open in 2018, the school will be located in Block G which was being renovated in 2017, funded by the Bletchley Park Science and Innovation Centre. (Bletchley Park Trust has no involvement with the college.) [3]

Exhibits[edit]

On display in the museum are many famous early computing era machines, including a functioning Colossus Mark 2 that was rebuilt between 1993 and 2008 by a team of volunteers led by Tony Sale.[4][5] Colossus was a machine that helped break German encryption during World War II.[6]

A team led by Tony Sale reconstructed a Colossus Mark 2 computer at Bletchley Park. Here, in 2006, Sale supervises the breaking of an enciphered message with the completed machine.

The museum also includes the world's oldest working digital computer (the Harwell Dekatron / WITCH), machines from the 1960s such as the Marconi Transistorised Automatic Computer (T.A.C.), Elliott 803 and 905, an ICL 2966 mainframe from the 1980s, a wide range of analogue computers, a hands-on retrocomputing gallery, and several restoration projects such as the PDP-8 and the PDP-11-based air traffic control system from London Terminal Control Centre at West Drayton near London. Further exhibits include mechanical and electronic calculators, a history of slide rules, a pair of Cray super computers, and a personal computing gallery with ten hands-on machines. Visitors can also see a re-build of the Cambridge University EDSAC computer that is underway (still in progress as of February 2017.)

There is also a suite which includes many BBC Micro personal computers which are used to encourage programming among visitors, an area dedicated to women in computer science, and a hands on display of video game consoles from different eras. All of this is alongside various other displays of devices and information regarding the evolution of computing from the 60s to the modern era.

At the end of 2009, an Internet gallery, sponsored by the National Physical Laboratory where packet switching was first developed, was opened.

Another area includes a range of mechanical and electro-mechanical punched card machines, exhibiting how computation was achieved prior to the digital computer.

The museum also features a cafe/gift shop.

Opening[edit]

The Colossus and Tunny Galleries[7]are open daily.

Demonstrations and talks usually occur on the hour when the galleries are open, with slight deviation depending on the amount of visitors.

The rest of the Museum is open to the public every Thursday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons and most bank holidays, and by appointment for groups only at other times. There are guided tours on Tuesday afternoons, Thursday mornings and other times. There is a modest admission charge to the museum to help cover overheads (including rent).

Funding[edit]

TNMOC depends for funding entirely on voluntary and corporate donations and modest admission charges. Fundraising continues and donors have included Bletchley Park Capital Partners, Fujitsu, Google UK, CreateOnline, Ceravision, Insight software, PGP Corporation, IBM, NPL, HP Labs, BCS, Black Marble, and the School of Computer Science at the University of Hertfordshire.

The museum is managed by the Codes and Ciphers Heritage Trust, a registered charity,[8] with employed and volunteer staff. The title The National Museum of Computing is an operating name.

References[edit]

External links[edit]