The Origins of Our Digital Age (22 November 2016)

Seven decades of computing progress have brought us from room-sized computers to wearable computing. At The National Museum of Computing on Bletchley Park this transformation can be seen in operational computers from each decade and proves a highly educational and entertaining resource.

Dr Andrew Herbert will focus on one particular computer: the 1949 EDSAC and show how one of key artefacts of the museum has come into being; over the past five years the project has researched and undertaken construction of a working reconstruction of EDSAC, the world’s first practical electronic digital computer.

The original, which no longer exists, was built at Cambridge University by a team led by M.V. Wilkes. Using circuits and technologies taken from Wilkes’ wartime experience with radar, EDSAC represents a transition from analogue to digital design.

Andrew will talk about how his team reconstructed the circuits from surviving documents and photographs, the challenges in recreating 70-year old technology, the benefits of doing so with modern electronics, and the impact the reconstruction has on visitors and the Museum’s educational programme.

Our speaker: Dr Andrew Herbert OBE FREng

Andrew Herbert is a trustee of The National Museum of Computing and project manager of the EDSAC Replica Project. Now retired, he spent his working life engaged in computer systems engineering research in both academia and industry. His last position was as chairman of Microsoft’s research laboratories in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region.