New funding for TNMOC learning programme

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New funding enables TNMOC to seize the opportunity to support schools in computing learning

"Any self-respecting science needs to understand its past"

New pump-prime funding is enabling The National Museum of Computing to develop its unrivalled, hands-on, computer learning programme for schools, colleges and universities. This year, the Museum is already on target to quadruple the number of visiting groups who have an educational and often hands-on experience spanning the 1940s Colossus to the 2011 Touchtable, from valves and tapes to chips and touchscreens.

The new funding has come from Google UK and private individuals and is already enabling TNMOC to increase the number of educational group visits, and to enhance those students' experiences with more hands-on activities with TNMOC's unique range of working vintage computers.

Chris Monk, Learning Co-ordinator at TNMOC, said: "Any self-respecting science needs to understand its past. Today's young people are digital natives, and at TNMOC we can demonstrate to them that they are living through the latest chapter in the development of computing and technology. We encourage them to think about the heritage story we present at TNMOC and we explain the role that British computer scientists and engineers have played. But our key objective is to help inspire them to play a part in future developments and to write that next chapter of computing, contributing to a future gallery at our wonderful museum."

Andy Clark, TNMOC Chairman, said: "TNMOC began its Learning Programme with a grant from the Drapers' Foundation and our appeal for further development funding at the beginning of this year has been answered by Google and some private donors. We are extremely grateful to all our funders and I hope that they are delighted with the impact that we are already beginning to make. Britain's digital legacy is astonishing and we believe the country's future impact can be every bit as exciting if we can inspire and equip forthcoming generations."

Peter Barron, Director of External Relations at Google, said: "A well-rounded computer science education delivers not only practical skills but an understanding of the way computing has transformed society. We are pleased to support TNMOC's initiatives to illuminate the UK's computing past and inspire the next generation of developers."

The developing learning programme at TNMOC includes:

  • the very specific context for problem-solving of the 1940s Colossus and Tunny machines
  • the slow but reliable calculation capabilities of the 1950s Harwell Dekatron computer currently being restored in public view
  • the massive mainframes of the 1970s and their link to today's cloud computing developments
  • the birth of the personal computer, so important to a young person's experience of computing today
  • the office and domestic desktops of the 1980s and the transformation of work and leisure that they heralded
  • hands-on programming activities in the Acorn BBC classroom where students can see the revolution in user interfaces from the unadorned command line prompt of the BBC Micro of the 1980s to the highly intuitive BBC Domesday Touchtable of 2011.

See the TNMOC learning section for further information and how to book.

Notes To Editors

About The National Museum of Computing

The National Museum of Computing, located at Bletchley Park, is an independent charity housing the largest collection of functional historic computers in Europe, including a rebuilt Colossus, the world’s first electronic programmable computer. The Museum enables visitors to follow the development of computing from the ultra-secret pioneering efforts of the 1940s through the mainframes of the 1960s and 1970s, the rise of personal computing in the 1980s and beyond.

New working exhibits are regularly unveiled and the public can already view a rebuilt and fully operational Colossus, the restoration of the Harwell Dekatron / WITCH computer, an ICL 2966, one of the workhorse mainframes computers of the 1980s, many of the earliest desktops of the 1980s and 1990s, plus the NPL Technology of the Internet Gallery. In June 2010 TNMOC hosted Britain’s first-ever Vintage Computer Festival.

Funders of the Museum include Bletchley Park Capital Partners, CreateOnline, Ceravision, InsightSoftware.com, Google UK, PGP Corporation, IBM, NPL, HP Labs, BCS, the Drapers' Foundation, Black Marble, and the School of Computer Science at the University of Hertfordshire.

The Museum is currently open to the public on Thursdays and Saturdays from 1pm, and on Bank Holidays in spring and summer. Guided tours are also available at 2.30pm on Tuesdays, 2pm Sundays and some other days. Groups may visit at other times by arrangement and special organisation Away-Days can be booked.

For more information, see www.tnmoc.org and follow @tnmoc on Twitter and The National Museum of Computing on Facebook and Google+.

Media Contacts
Stephen Fleming
Palam Communications for TNMOC
t +44 (0) 1635 299116
e sfleming@palam.co.uk

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