Our story so far
The decade started with just 10 commercially-manufactured computers running in the UK and ended with our first conference being oversubscribed. So what happened in between? UK manufacturers started building computers and people became fascinated with these machines. In 1957 the London Computer Group merged with an association of scientists to become the British Computer Society Ltd.
Technology took off in the 60s, not just with space exploration but also on the ground with huge advancements in computers. By 1965, our membership had grown to 5,000 and a year later, in 1966, we were granted charitable status. Once we reached our 10th birthday in 1967, we had gained an 18,000-strong membership.
In the decade that saw us earning our own crest, computing changed from a hardware industry to a software business. As society took a keen interest in using computers, we were constantly responding to issues far beyond technology. By 1972, we had a code of conduct and a code of practice. Four years later, in 1976, HRH the Duke of Kent became a patron.
Business PCs started to shake up key central operations across industries during the 80s. 1982, named by the government as IT Year, saw the prime minister Margaret Thatcher joining us for lunch and HRH the Duke of Kent acting as our President. We were also incorporated by royal charter in the 80s and became a chartered engineering institution by 1989.
During the 1990s, the internet and web became part of business and everyday life. As the world prepared for the turn of the century, we led the work on the year 2000 problem and we were one of the first professional bodies to launch internet and web services. This decade saw two of our key development programmes taking shape, with the launch of the ECDL computer skills certification, and the SFIA framework for IT professionals. In 1996, we also became licensed to award Chartered Engineer status (CEng). BCS also launched its first website; designed and constructed by our first ever Webmaster, Pam Bolwell.
By our 50th birthday, we’d reached many milestones. Chartered IT Professional status (CITP) was launched, the leading standard for the industry. We’d grown to 50,000 members, 40 UK branches and 15 international sections. Maurice Wilkes, our founding president, was knighted, and Dr Sue Black founded BCSWomen, the global IT networking specialist group.
Touchscreens and mobile technology are dominating the era. With everyone swiping, tapping, sharing and watching on hand-held devices, we strengthened our focus on ‘making IT good for society’ - taking on four key challenges of capability, personal data, education and healthcare. More recently our focus shifted to ethics in IT, now a prevailing factor behind new tech development, in particular in AI, blockchain, big data and VR.
This decade heralds major headways in education. We played an integral role in delivering a new computing curriculum in schools in England, and our Computing At Schools community - now nearly 30,000-strong - provides strategic guidance and support to computing teachers across the UK. We also launched 12 new digital apprenticeship standards with strong take-up.
In the health and social care sector, our Federation for Informatics Professionals (FEDIP) collaboration is setting new accreditation standards for the clinical informatics community. BCS was quick to respond to the devastating cyberattack on the NHS in 2017, bringing key individuals and organisations together to draw up a blueprint for a cyber-safe NHS. Unsurprisingly cybersecurity has become another of our key focus areas as we approach the new roaring 20s!