Insight Guided Tours
The Insightsoftware.com public Guided Tours are very popular and enable visitors to see our collection on days when the Museum is busy with educational and other groups.
To book a place on a tour: you can book in advance online or buy a ticket as soon as you arrive at Block H (The National Museum of Computing) on Bletchley Park. Tickets are usually on sale from 12 noon. Places are limited to 16 people, so on-line advance booking is recommended. The cost is £12.50 (concessions £10).
The Tours last about 2 hours and gives a tour around all of the Museum from Colossus onwards. Much of what is on display actually works, and our guides describe how the computers were used, tell anecdotes on their design and operation, and operate some of the equipment.
The Tours are designed for adults and is a walking tour packed with information, but with little opportunity for hands-on with the exhibits (that's best on days when the Museum is fully open to the public). Consequently, it is not really suitable for children under 11. Families with young children are advised to visit when the Museum is fully open – Saturday and Sunday afternoons, Thursday afternoons and public holidays – then there are opportunities to have hands-on access to many computers.
TNMOC hosts organised educational visits from schools and educational establishments which are suitable for young people of all ages.
Tour Guide Profiles
The main Tour Guide is Phil Catterall with support from Sheridan Williams
Philip Catterall's career to date has spanned most of the technology on display at TNMOC and he has experienced it from many perspectives from training and business analysis to operations and systems design. He even worked in Block H long before TNMOC arrived and in a time when the history of Bletchley Park was still under security wraps. In the1980s, Philip designed and developed training courses to help convert BT engineers from analogue to the new digital systems and later was responsible for the design and development of corporate scale training, pricing and billing systems. He is fascinated to see echoes of earlier technologies on display at TNMOC still evident in systems today and ruefully wishes he had had knowledge of the principles of those earlier systems such as the 1950s LEO approach to costing methods! Philip's more recent work on systems and contract management in health and social care has steered him in the direction of using cheap and powerful 21st century technology to find ways of making music accessible for people with disabilities. He feels that with devices like the Raspberry Pi and the Arduino, it is as exciting today to take up computing science as it was in the 1980s.
During his career Sheridan Williams has actually used lots of the computers now on display in the Museum, so he will have lots of first-hand anecdotes to tell throughout his tours! Sheridan began his career in 1967 as a rocket-scientist with the MoD using a Ferranti Mk.1 and PACE analogue computer to model the flight of rockets. After 10 years he became a senior lecturer in computer science using Elliott and ICL computers. He helped launch Personal Computer World magazine in the 1980s and was their equipment reviewer and computer agony uncle on its "Computer Answers" pages. He was also a co-founder of BEEBUG, the user group for the BBC micro and later Acorn's RISC computers. Sheridan is also a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Association and was Director of the BAA's Computing Section for several years, compiling their annual handbook, and leads astronomical tours all over the world. He has even found time to be a successful rally driver winning several championships.