May 21, 2006
Computing history at Bletchley Park
Scoble describes 'a museum of love for computers.' I have to mention the computer museum at Bletchley Park. Geeks will know Bletchley Park as the talismanic birthplace of modern computing, and the computer museum there begins with the World War 2 Colossus codebreaking machine and goes on from there. I'm not sure what state it's in at the moment -- when I visited in 2004, it was wonderfully shambolic with ancient minis and mainframes cheek by jowl with weird homebuilt micros, usually in bits. They were also busy on a reconstruction of a working Colossus machine, a terrifying engine with spinning wheels and flapping tapes and enough room for the bloke working on it to walk around inside it. It was so like every 70s television sf computer rolled into one, I was tempted to ask it "Why?" and see if it exploded.
The museum, by the way, is a tiny part of the Bletchley Park visit: there's much more about the wartime experience, both the codebreaking stuff and more generally about the period including some interesting exhibitions on the home front (love those "Dig for Victory" posters), communications, etc., plus a museum of strange inventions. Well worth a day of anybody's time.
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