My own personal ramblings…

Last year at the Beeb@30 anniversary, we were celebrating several things. First of all there was the iconic computer itself. We were celebrating and saying thank you to the people who created it, as well as the BBC Computer Literacy Project which brought it all to life. All of these things inspired a generation of IT professionals who, in turn, have been key to Britain’s service industry as a whole. All of this was part of a microcomputer revolution where Britain led the way – certainly in terms of computing education. At the heart of all of this lies the city of Cambridge.

It hasn’t stopped there either. ARM, who are based in Cambridge, evolved from Acorn Computers and are the world leaders in mobile phone chip technology with 99.9% of the market. When we partied at their headquarters for Beeb@30, we were drinking wine, eating cake and sharing anecdotes with the people who designed the technology in every single mobile phone out there, pretty much.

It was therefore fitting that another incentive behind Beeb@30 was to champion the cause for Cambridge to have a computing museum. Just as Coventry has a motor museum, or Liverpool has its maritime museum. One year on, and it has finally happened. The Centre for Computing History have finally secured a lease on a building in Cambridge – 10,500 square feet not far from the Beehive shopping centre (for those of you who know the area).

This is fantastic news, but the campaign isn’t over yet. The building needs work to comply with modern regulations and Health and Safety standards. It isn’t cheap – the amount needed stands at a touch over £131,000. However, there are lots of ways you can help. Every pound or extra pairs of hands counts…

I know that there are two other computing museums in Britain, but each of these tell a similar story in different ways. Cambridge really is the natural home for a museum such as this, but it runs deeper than that. The Centre for Computing History tell their story from more of a social history perspective, which has a broader appeal for people of all ages. I’ll explain this by asking you to imagine walking into a museum and seeing a 1959 Mini. The storyboard can explain how project ADO15 has a transverse-mounted 848cc A-series engine, rubber cone suspension and a monocoque shell. Alternatively, it could say that it was an economy car designed by Sir Alec Issigonis and launched at a time of fuel rationing after the Suez oil crisis, was the first car to drive the front wheels with the engine mounted sideways, was popular with sixties celebrity culture and John Cooper created a sportier version which Paddy Hopkirk drove to victory in the 1964 Monte Carlo rally. Yes, I’m a car geek – but one who appreciates plain English…

I’m pleased and proud that I was key to making the Beeb@30 celebrations happen, but for the legacy to be sealed with this news one year later is very befitting.

I hope to be a part of any opening celebrations (wink!), but in the meantime if you can help with the project in any way – here’s the link…


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