Women in Computing Gallery opens

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A new Women in Computing Gallery, sponsored by Google UK, has been opened at The National Museum of Computing on Bletchley Park by technology entrepreneur Dame Stephanie Shirley. The Gallery highlights the pioneering role that women have played in the development of computing and has been designed to inspire many more girls to take up computing as a career.

The opening of the new gallery formed part of a Google-inspired Heroines of Computing event at Bletchley Park involving both the Bletchley Park Trust and The National Museum of Computing.

The idea for the gallery was sparked when the Museum discovered that only 10% of students coming from schools and colleges on its acclaimed Learning Programme were female. Together with Google the idea for the new TNMOC gallery took shape.

Using the latest in interactive digital signage display technology, the gallery presents a multimedia tribute to female pioneers of computing. Six large touch screens offer intuitive interactive access to videos, photographs, graphics and text telling many of the little-known stories of women in computing. Artefacts in the Gallery include a beautiful reproduction of a scrapbook of Dame Stephanie Shirley's career at F International, the hugely successful company she founded.

Dame Stephanie Shirley in opening the gallery said: "Girls must take advantage of the revival of computing in schools and recognise and grab the opportunities that our wonderful sector offers. Britain's economy demands that women are not just consumers, but rather creators of new technologies and applications. This new Women in Computing gallery at TNMOC will promote positive role models for women and so encourage girls and women in critical thinking and engineering. It shows the heroines of computing as historic facts to inspire the upcoming generation." (See video of Dame Stephanie Shirley's opening speech below.)

Peter Barron, Head of External Relations at Google said: "We are delighted to have hosted the Heroines of Computing event at Bletchley Park and to have sponsored this exciting new gallery at TNMOC. As a company we're committed to encouraging more young people to explore the opportunities in computing. One of the challenges faced by girls in particular is a perceived lack of role models -- a problem we hope this gallery can help redress.”

Chris Monk, Learning Co-ordinator at TNMOC, explained how the women in computing theme will be developed at TNMOC: "With the support of Google we have created this highly dynamic gallery which by a few keystrokes can be updated with information and videos as they become available. At Saturday's event, for example, we collected more of the history from the pioneers themselves and already several new videos are now being edited for display. Women's part in the history of computing will not be confined to this new Gallery -- as the Museum grows their stories will be embedded throughout the museum. We encourage anyone with information relevant to the history of women in computing to contact us at womenincomputing@tnmoc.org."

The gallery's digital signage technology, DSB developed by heinekingmedia, is highly intuitive with an interface familiar to anyone who uses tablet computers. Content, hosted in the cloud, can be supplied in a very wide range of common computer file types and very attractively presented by web-based screen design software.

Besides Dame Stephanie Shirley's scrapbook, other artefacts on display include comptometers, sophisticated pre-computing calculators operated mainly by women, and memorabilia such as the first Assembly language programming book, written by Kathleen Booth, a trailblazing academic, and a personally-engraved handpunch machine of a Miss IP Williams who worked on the celebrated Powers-Samas tabulating machines.

Guests at the Heroines in Computing event included many of the women who have made outstanding contributions to the development of computing were present including Sophie Wilson, co-designer of the BBC Micro and the ARM chip, Joyce Wheeler, one of the first academics to use a computer (EDSAC) for research, Mary Coombs the first female commercial programmer (using LEO), and Margaret Bullen who worked on the wiring on the original Colossus computers.

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 computer and the WITCH, the world's oldest working digital computer. The Museum enables visitors to follow the development of computing from the ultra-secret pioneering efforts of the 1940s through the large systems and mainframes of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, and the rise of personal computing in the 1980s and beyond.

A recent pledge by an individual benefactor of £1 million if matched funding is found means that every pound or dollar donated to the Museum will count double. Previous funders of the Museum have included 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, Saturdays and Sundays from 1pm, and on summer Bank Holidays. Guided tours are also available at 2.30pm on Tuesdays. There are often additional opening times for the public -- see the website or the iPhone app for updates. Educational and corporate groups are very welcome and may be on any day or evening by prior arrangement.

For more information, see www.tnmoc.org and follow @tnmoc on Twitter and The National Museum of Computing on Facebook and Google+. A TNMOC iPhone App is also now available from the iPhone App Store.

About DSB

heinekingmedia GmbH specializes in the development and production of digital visual display systems for schools, universities, public authorities and corporations. Their brands include netSchool, netPublic, netBizz and netGastro.

Formed in 2004, heinekingmedia is part of the Heineking business group that has been in operation from since 1926 in Landesbergen in north Germany. Working together with T-Systems and Samsung, heinekingmedia have been active in the education market since 2006 with their “Digital Signage Board” (DSB) under the “netSchool” brand.

The newest company product is the Digital Signage Board², which has been constructed using a wide range of experience from thousands of user experiences, thus extending the possibilities for the planning and design by way of the usage of cutting edge technology. Website: www.heinekingmedia.de

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

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