Let’s Compute

A few weekend’s ago I visited the National Computer Museumm near Milton Keynes. I was intrigued because of the history of the place, and Alan Turing’s northern links, and because I’d just written an article about computing in schools.  Our tour finished in a room full of BBC Micros and some very knowledgeable volunteers. Here are some of the best bits (I’ll try and cover everything in future posts).

The UK has a ridiculous amount of computing history: The Acorn chip, which was made in the UK is the basis of most modern phones and almost half of today’s broadband.

Opensource embroidery: Talk about cross medium.  Ele Carpenter led a project to create a HTML patchwork using websafe colour codes.  What I love about this is the whole taking computing beyond just a screen and trying to get people involved through completely different mediums.


Kids programming: What really blew me away was the amount of computing literature for kids that was published around the time of the BBC Micro in the 80s. Below are just a few snaps I took of all the books the museum have saved.  They were also screening daytime and kids TV shows that used to explain how to do basic programming.  Where has this gone?!

My favourite was a programming magazine for children called ‘Let’s Compute’, mainly because the boy and I have talked about mocking up a magazine like this for the present day.


While there I had the pleasure of talking to a number of volunteers including Chris Monk, who is working on museum plans to do more evening, weekend and holiday workshops for kids.  He told me they would probably start people off on the BBC Micros they have and then move people on to Arduino and Rasberry Pi.

Considering how difficult it still is for teachers to get programming onto the curriculum, it seems like an amazing opportunity for young people to learn these skills at least in an extra-curricular way.


If you want more info on the museum, ICT teacher Alan O’Donohoe has some fab videos and insights here, and the official website of the museum is here.

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