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22 September 2016

[email protected]: The heyday of British computing - how the Brits ruled IT

Computer Weekly is marking its 50th anniversary this year with a series of articles celebrating 50 years of British technology innovation. In this article, we look back at the years before 1966, when Computer Weekly was first published. The story of modern computing is tied intricately to wartime technology. In fact, one of the seminal papers, First draft of a report on the EDVAC, which set in concrete the definition of a modern computer, was written by mathematician John von Neumann, who worked on a way to process the vast numbers of calculations for the Manhattan project in Los Alamos, which was needed to design an atomic bomb. In the UK, putting aside Colossus, Bletchley Park’s ingenious cypher-breaking machine that was bound for many years by the Official Secrets Act, there was plenty coming out of wartime technology. “A lot of wartime tech put us on the road to computing,” says computer scientist Andrew Herbert, a trustee at The National Museum of Computing. Much of this work came from British wartime effort on radar. As ...

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