[SIGCIS-Members] Digital history exhibition at Royal Holloway, London

James Sumner james.sumner at manchester.ac.uk
Tue Oct 2 11:49:36 PDT 2018

Forwarding on behalf of the organisers:



The Computer Science department at Royal Holloway, University of London, 
will be celebrating its 50th anniversary this month by taking people on 
a journey through 200 years of digital technology.

The department is staging a special exhibition called ‘200 years of 
becoming digital’ exploring the history of computing technology and its 
effect on society, in particular the contribution of women scientists 
and engineers.

The university will open its doors to host the exhibition on the 
evolution of the digital world between 24 September and 29 November. The 
free display will explore technological change over the past two 
centuries and its effect on society.

The exhibition has five themes including a ‘Wall of Women’ which 
celebrates the contribution of women such as Margaret Rock, an alumna of 
Bedford College, which merged with Royal Holloway in 1985.

Margaret <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Rock> was recruited in 
1940 to work at Bletchley Park, the site of the Government Code and 
Cypher School which was responsible for decrypting enemy communications 
during World War II. She was later awarded an MBE for her work within 
the group that broke the German Military Intelligence Enigma code and 
was said to be one of the best in the team.

The exhibition also includes a recreation of Charles Babbage’s 
nineteenth century analytical engine, the forerunner of modern 
computers; an explanation of the way in which miniaturisation has driven 
increases in computer speed (a process that will soon come to a halt) 
and the use of digital technologies in the entertainment industries.

Adrian Johnstone, Professor of Computing at Royal Holloway said: “This 
is an opportunity to not only celebrate our 50th anniversary but show 
how the technology which now impacts on all aspects of our lives originated.

“In the 50 years since our computing department opened we have seen 
massive changes in the technologies available and how they are used.

  “We particularly want to celebrate the contribution of women in 
science and engineering. It’s fascinating to see that computing science 
originally attracted many women into the discipline. Women are now 
under-represented in this sector and we must reverse this trend. 
Highlighting the contribution women have made in the past and the great 
opportunities which now exist is an important part of this exhibition,” 
added Professor Johnstone.

*The exhibition takes place in the Exhibition Space of the Emily Wilding 
Davison Building until Friday 30 November 2018. **
**Open every day 10.00-18.00 and 20.00 on Thursdays. Admission free, no 
booking necessary*

This exhibition traces the development of computing ideas and technology 
since the 1820s through four themes:

/The mechanical prehistory of computing /

How were tables of logarithms made in the 19th century? See a steam 
driven calculator and a mechanical noughts and crosses machine along 
with a modern 3D printer.


Female participation in computing slumped in the 1960s as programming 
became seen as a technical profession, and again in the 1980s as the 
home computer revolution took hold. Can we reverse the trend?
//Moore’s Law from beginning to end/

We have become used to computers getting faster and faster, as their 
internal components become smaller. This trend has now slowed and will 
stop soon because matter is granular, and we cannot reduce the width of 
a wire that is only a few atoms across. See how memory density has 
increased exponentially over 200 years.

/Toys, games and deep learning/

Leisure activities are now dominated by digital technologies. See 
examples of robots, games consoles and animations. Learn how the 
superfast hardware in games consoles has been harnessed to speed up 
training of artificial intelligence applications. Can you distinguish 
real-Obama from synthetic-Obama?

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