South Wales branch: History of computing
Swansea University’s History of Computing Collection
Swansea University's History of Computing Collection (HoCC) is an archive, museum and study centre at the University’s Singleton Campus. It was founded by John V Tucker FBCS and Steve Williams FBCS, and launched publicly at a BCS South Wales event in 2007.
Its aim is to help preserve and research the development of computing, and its influence and impact on society; it offers opportunities to engage with the complex history of this digital age. To do this, it collects a wide range of materials: equipment, software, manuals, books, ephemera and personal archives and testimonies.
The Collection has established several research specialisms such as
- computing before computers
- theories of data, computation and software development
and, especially, the
- development of computing and its social impact in south Wales.
Have a look at some of the resources the HoCC have put together:
HoCC website (soon to be revised)
HoCC Flickr account
HoCC YouTube Channel
What did south Wales ever do for Computing?
South Wales has long been a major industrial region so it should not be surprising that computing has a long history in south Wales, certainly greater than most people are aware of. For example:
- The first computer in Wales was a Ferranti Pegasus, bought to design the new Abbey Steel Works at Port Talbot.
- When built, these same steelworks used computers within the manufacturing automation in new and often world leading ways.
- Computers have been manufactured in Newport since the 1950s, such as the Stantec Zebra, Inmos Transputer, and Apple iMac.
- One of the earliest ‘Big Data’ centres in the UK was the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Centre in Swansea.
- Major early developments of the Linux operating system were undertaken in Swansea University.
- The web’s Internet Movie Database began life in Cardiff University.
The Collection is the base for a range of short-term and long-term projects:
Big Data Comes to Wales. This traces the origins of the DVLA. Here is a video to tell you a bit more about it.
The Computer Revolution and Us: Computer Science at Swansea University from the 1960s
Two, more current projects, are:
History of British Human Computer Interaction and The Origins and Development of Computing in the Schools of South Wales
Project with the BCS in South Wales
With the encouragement and partnership of the BCS South Wales Branch, Swansea University’s History of Computing Collection has launched a new long-term investigation in March 2023:
To explore the history of computing and its impact in south Wales based on the memories and experiences of the members of the BCS, present and past.
You might like to note the BCS South Wales Branch was founded in 1958 and so members have witnessed and helped create massive technical and social changes across our society.
All sectors - schools, industry, commerce, public services, medicine, the military, social and private life, etc - are of interest and, of course, their computing problems, technologies, achievements and failures. For some of these sectors there work is in progress; for others, little if anything is known. Many people have been involved in significant developments in our region; many organisations have interesting computing histories of their own.
One concrete task is to gather a complete set of records of BCS South Wales Branch meetings, special events and initiatives, and members.
If you (and your attic and garage storehouses) can help with this task do get in touch via the email below!
If you like to speak to the team at HoCC, or to learn more, please contact John V Tucker - BCS South Wales Branch Committee email@example.com