Wednesday, March 28, 2012

#Turing and his Times - at Bletchley Park


To mark the centenary of the birth of Alan Turing, The National Museum of Computing (TNMOC)  is hosting an open meeting "Turing and his Times" on 26 April 2012 at 5pm at Bletchley Park, where Turing worked as a codebreaker during World War II. The TNMOC event is the second of three Turing-themed events linking three of the top computing museums in the world.
   Turing and his Times will feature a talk by computer historian Prof Simon Lavington on Turing and his Contemporaries, a simulation of the Pilot ACE computer by TNMOC trustee Kevin Murrell, and the first formal public showing of a video commissioned by the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) of the recollections of two of Turing's colleagues. The event will be chaired by highly respected journalist, commentator and technology critic, Bill Thompson.
   Simon Lavington is author of the new book "Turing and his Contemporaries", will trace Alan Turing’s ideas from 1945 onwards and his imaginative but difficult interactions with his computing colleagues in the period leading to his tragic death in 1954. At the end of 1945 Alan Turing produced one of the earliest detailed specifications for a universal stored-program computer when he was working at NPL. It was confidently expected that NPL would build the world’s first modern computer, but things did not go according to plan. By 1948 Turing had resigned from NPL and by 1949 innovative computers designed by others had burst into life at the Universities of Cambridge and Manchester.
   Kevin Murrell will demonstrate a simulation of the Pilot ACE, the computer developed by Turing and his team at NPL in the late 1940s. Operating an accurate representation of the front of the Pilot ACE, he will  demonstrate how complex and quick it was compared to other early computers.
   There will also be the first formal public showing of a ten-minute video made by Harriet Vickers and commissioned by NPL featuring vintage and very recent footage of Tom Vickers and Mike Woodger recalling their time working with Turing at NPL.
   Tickets for the TNMOC Turing and his Times event are priced at £10 each (plus £1 booking fee) are available at www.etickets.to/buy/?e=8174  A ticket includes entry to TNMOC from 1pm on the afternoon the event. The event itself will be in the Bletchley Park Mansion from 5pm - 6.30pm and followed by networking in the bar area.
   Early visitors to the Turing and his Times event will be able to see a display about Turing and the Pilot ACE at TNMOC in Block H at Bletchley Park, Brian Aldous, TNMOC volunteer Archivist and former NPL employee, has compiled a display about Turing which includes a copy of Turing's 78-page Pilot ACE proposal to NPL, the original NPL patent for acoustic delay lines and some examples of the use of the Pilot ACE .
   Bletchley Park Trust's Turing display will also be viewable during its normal opening hours at the additional cost of a Bletchley Park entrance fee.
   This sounds like a great event, sadly I live in New Zealand, which is about as far away as I could be. If you go let me know what happened.