Three of the world's top computing museums are collaborating by hosting three events with live Twitter feeds and recorded webcasts to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Alan Turing, often regarded as the father of computer science.
The three events held at three museums – The Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California, The National Museum of Computing on Bletchley Park, England, and the Heinz Nixdorf Museum in Paderborn, Germany – will discuss the contribution of Turing and his contemporaries and the public will be invited to pose questions in advance and follow the events through a live Twitter feed. Videos of each event will later be posted on the Internet.
Three eminent speakers will headline each event: George Dyson, author of Turing's Cathedral, in the USA, Emeritus Professor Simon Lavington, author of Turing and his Contemporaries, in the UK, and Horst Zuse, son of computer pioneer Konrad Zuse, in Germany.
The Computer History Museum in California will host the first event on 7 March, when historian George Dyson will talk with Museum President and CEO John Hollar about the influence of Alan Turing on John von Neumann (and vice-versa) as the digital universe was taking its present form. Turing’s one-dimensional model of universal computation became von Neumann’s now-ubiquitous two-dimensional implementation – with many historical twists along the way.
On 26 April at The National Museum of Computing on Bletchley Park, UK, where Turing worked as a codebreaker during World War II, Professor Simon Lavington, computer historian, will talk on Turing and his contemporaries and there are plans to show vintage and recent footage of two of Turing's colleagues recalling those pioneering days. Kevin Murrell, a director of TNMOC, will also give a demonstration of a simulation of the Pilot ACE computer, designed by Turing at The National Physical Laboratory in the late 1940s.
In Germany, on 26 May, the Heinz Nixdorf Museum in Paderborn, Germany, will host an event featuring two short lectures: Professor Dr Horst Zuse talking about his father Konrad Zuse and his computers, Professor Dr Paul Rojas comparing Turing and Zuse, plus videos of their Turing exhibition and the Heinz Nixdorf Museum's working mechanical Turing machine.
To keep informed about the events and how to participate, see any of the museums' websites and sign up on Twitter to @3museums. Submit questions for the George Dyson event to @computerhistory using #turingscathedral.
The Computer History Museum (CHM) in Mountain View, California is a nonprofit organization with a four-decade history as the world’s leading institution exploring the history of computing and its ongoing impact on society. The Museum is dedicated to the preservation and celebration of computer history and is home to the largest international collection of computing artifacts in the world, encompassing computer hardware, software, documentation, ephemera, photographs and moving images.
The Museum brings computer history to life through an acclaimed speaker series, dynamic website, docent-led tours as well as physical and online exhibits. Current exhibits include “Charles Babbage's Difference Engine No. 2,” “Mastering the Game: A History of Computer Chess,” and “An Analog Life: Remembering Jim Williams.”
The Museum’s signature exhibit on the history of computing, “Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing,” opened in January 2011.
The National Museum of Computing located at Bletchley Park, UK, is an independent charity housing the largest collection of functional historic computers in Europe, including a rebuilt Colossus, the world’s first electronic programmable computer. The Museum enables visitors to follow the development of computing from the ultra-secret pioneering efforts of the 1940s through the mainframes of the 1960s and 1970s, and the rise of personal computing in the 1980s.
Ancient script tablets, historic typewriters and calculating machines, the first PCs or the latest developments in artificial intelligence: over an exhibition area of 6,000 square metres, Heinz Nixdorf MuseumsForum (HNF) in Paderborn/Germany presents the past, present and future of information technology, ranging from the origins of numbers and writing around 3,000 bc to the computer era of the 21st century. According to the Guinness Book of Records, HNF is the biggest computer museum in the world!
A tour through the museum is a hands-on experience. Visitors are able to try out a telephone exchange system, test new and historical computer games or talk to the virtual character Max.
An extensive range of events complements the permanent exhibition. Presentations, discussions and conferences concentrate on issues relating to the information society. As part of the educational museum programme, children can learn how to calculate with an abacus, learn secret codes and ciphers or build a robot.