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Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine

Further resources

This page provides some directions to material produced or located elsewhere. Note also that a very useful annotated sampler for print and online resources (worldwide in scope, and covering social, technical and economic aspects of the history of computing) is the SIGCIS history resources page.

Print and online sources

Appendix B of the NAHC catalogue lists guides and bibliographies in the history of computing in general, whilst Appendix C gives a short overview of works on the history of British computing published to 2000. The SIGCIS resources page, once more, provides a global overview of the field with useful annotations.

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Archives

Details of other British archives holding relevant material appear in Appendix A to the NAHC catalogue. This information will be updated as time allows. Note also that the Computer Conservation Society now maintains an index to the ICL Archive held by the Science Museum at its Wroughton facility.

The Charles Babbage Institute at the University of Minnesota, USA, is the principal North American institution dedicated to archiving and documenting the history of computing. Its website includes a list of research collections at other institutions in the USA, and is also notable for its collection of oral history transcripts.

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Organisations

The Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) maintains a Special Interest Group on Computers, Information, and Society (SIGCIS). This informal body is probably the largest international grouping of academic historians of computing. The group now operates its own email list (see below.)

The Computer Conservation Society is a specialist group of the British Computer Society, focusing on the investigation, documentation, conservation and reconstruction of computers (mostly pre-1970) in the UK. Members organise regular speaker meetings, and have been responsible for several notable re-creations of individual early British computers.

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Email lists

The JISCmail list history-of-computing-uk, created for the NAHC in 1998, is still in existence. Traffic has been light in recent years, although the list retains many of its subscribers.

SIGCIS (see under 'Organisations' above) now operates its own email list. Membership is in no way limited to members of the Group, and includes historians of computing from senior faculty to graduate student level. For further information please contact the list manager, Thomas Haigh.

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Journals

The main active journal devoted to the field (US-based, international in scope) is IEEE Annals of the History of Computing. More general journals which publish articles in the field include Technology and Culture (the journal of SHOT), History and Technology, Business History Review, and Information and Culture. Note also the increasing emergence of publications centred on user culture, such as the peer-reviewed web journal Game Studies.

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Museums, exhibits and artefact study

The Science Museum, London, is home to the Information Age gallery, a large permanent display launched in 2014 which tells the history of computing in the wider context of information and communications technologies and their users. A predecessor gallery, originated in the 1970s and focusing largely on individual iconic machines, closed in 2015, and at the time of writing the Museum is still in a state of transition regarding the display of some exhibits. The Museum has very extensive artefact holdings related to computer technology, including Charles Babbage's original prototype Difference Engine assembly and the fully-functioning machine constructed from Babbage's Difference Engine Number 2 plans, installed in 1991. The Museum's 'Making the Modern World' gallery also covers computers in its survey of the relationship between technology and recent everyday life.

The Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester's public displays include the 1998 rebuild of the Small Scale Experimental Machine ('Manchester Baby'), the first electronic digital stored-program computer, and a portion of Douglas Hartree's differential analyser from the 1930s.

The Museum of Computing, Swindon, focuses mainly on the personal systems of the 1970s onwards, with collections of hardware, software and print literature.

The National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park houses a collection of computers from the 1940s onwards, mostly operational and available for visitor access.

The Centre for Computing History, Cambridge (formerly based in Haverhill) is a growing site, focused on personal-era computers and games systems but with a significant quantity of older equipment. Many of the machines are in working order and available for visitor access.

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