Turing and his contemporaries

Speakers: Simon Lavington and others
Date: Mar 15th 2012

Room open in advance (from 14.00) - meet up with society members.


Fellows Library of the Science Museum
Exhibition Road, London,SW7 2DD


About the seminar

Secret wartime projects gave rise to a wealth of ideas and technologies that kick-started the first decade of the Information Age. The brilliant mathematician and code-breaker Alan Turing was one of several British pioneers whose research contributed to the development of prototype computers. By 1955 the derivatives produced by companies such as Ferranti, English Electric, Elliott Brothers and the British Tabulating Machine Co. had begun to appear in the market-place.

To mark the centenary of Alan Turing´s birth, members of the CCS have produced a book called Alan Turing and his contemporaries: building the world´s first computers. This is a tribute not only to stars such as Tom Kilburn, Alan Turing and Maurice Wilkes but to the many other scientists and engineers who made significant contributions to early computing during the period 1945 - 1955.

In this seminar the contributors to this book will explain how the basic ideas for the stored-program computer originated and then describe how teams at five UK locations built a number of prototype machines. The relative influence of Alan Turing in all of this will be assessed, through his contributions both to the theory and the practice of computing.

The talks will be followed by discussion.

About the speakers

Simon Lavington will lead the seminar and introduce his fellow CCS committee members who have contributed to the book - Chris Burton, Martin Campbell-Kelly, and Roger Johnson.

Simon is Emeritus Professor of Computer Science at the University of Essex. Among his many publications is the book Early British Computers, and a definitive history of Elliott computers published in the spring of 2011 titled Moving Targets - Elliott-Automation and the Dawn of the Computer Age in Britain, 1947 - 67.


The book titled "Alan Turing and his Contemporaries: building the world´s first computers" has been published by the BCS - for book details see the online BCS bookshop. You can order there with a discount for BCS members.

The book is highly recommended and copies will be available at the event at a special discounted price.

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