Birth of BCS

Among the horn-rimmed spectacles and grey haberdashery of post-war Britain rose a technological phoenix. Following on from the wartime computing pioneers that the world didn’t really even find out about until the 2000s, 1957 saw the birth of BCS. It arose from the London Computing Group, responding to the demands placed upon experts in the burgeoning information management field to formalise and organise their approach to computing.

The structure of the organisation, the proliferation of groups and boards with particular remits, the publication of both academic and broad-interest material - and much more besides - were in place from early in the Institute’s history.

BCS has grown with the industry and the discipline - responding to it, seeding it with talent and new thinking - and adding to its pantheon of key people. It is exciting to celebrate 60 years of progress and, for BCS and the world, change.

Over the next 12 months there will be a range of events and publications to acknowledge this milestone.

Regional branches and specialist groups, often cited as the lifeblood of the organisation, are being thanked with a series of seven regional events during the year, the first one has already taken place in Windsor on 4 June. This is to acknowledge all the good work done by these groups and to reinforce the Institute’s commitment to what comes from these engaged members. As with all of the plans herein discussed, further information will be forthcoming - watch this space!

In other event news, later this year the BCS President will be hosting a special dinner for the ‘great and the good’ in the BCS sphere. Fittingly this is at a prestigious venue - St. James’s Palace.

In terms of publications, the next issue of ITNOW will celebrate the 60 years of its own history - starting life in June 1957 as the Computer Bulletin. Past Bulletins make for a fascinating read - not only because some of the stats seem so small to us now (memory capacities, for example), or indeed the amusing, sometimes scary, but very much of-their-time adverts. From the start, there was a concerted effort - even before 1984’s royal charter - to address issues that were of importance beyond the narrow confines of the expert - in other words, how computing affects society. And how it should benefit society at large.

An anniversary is an opportunity, too, to put nostalgia to work. We will be publishing a ‘best of’ the interviews from ITNOW over the last 12 years or so. Some were very prescient, some not so much, but many made points that still very much apply. They are worth a reread, so will be available in one place.

This is just a taster - there will be other things to look forward to - all with the intention of not only celebrating our important legacy, but setting the context for where we - as an organisation made up of expert members - should be going next.

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About the author

Brian is Head of Content at BCS and blogs about the Institute’s role in making IT good for society, historical developments in computing, the implications of CS research and more.

See all posts by Brian Runciman

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