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Reliving Britain’s heyday in 1980s home computing at TNMOC

Date Posted:24/01/2020

The heyday of British home computing in the 1980s is the focus of a pop-up display at The National Museum of Computing on the Bletchley Park Estate until 30 June 2020.

From Sinclair ZX80s through ZX Spectrums to the BBC micro, visitors of a certain age can relive their entry into computing with hands-on access to many of the original machines. Video clips also give reminders of the landmark BBC computer literacy series that introduced so many of today’s computer programmers to the fast-developing world of computing.

Paul Gent, one of the three volunteers at the museum who has curated the temporary exhibition, recalled, “I was one of those ten-year-old children who in the early 1980s so badly wanted a ZX Spectrum for Christmas. That machine was a revelation – it brought colour screens to home computing along with exciting beeping noises and video games that looked like those we had previously seen only in amusement arcades. The pace of development was breath-taking – and so much of the technology was developed in Britain!”

Visitors can relive these glory days with hands-on access to a range of 1980s machines and see some of the other lesser-known but important models of the day. They can also learn how the RISC computer developed for the BBC micro went on to become the ARM chip that today is found in almost every smartphone on the planet.

David Allen, producer of the 1980s BBC Computer Literacy Series, is looking forward to seeing the display and the excerpts of his programmes. “For nearly ten years our series explained and reported on the computer revolution. We were in the right place at the right time and anticipated technology now taken for granted -- from the mobile phone to robotics to artificial intelligence.”

About The National Museum of Computing

Now fully open Tuesdays to Sundays, 10.30 am to 5.00 pm.

The National Museum of Computing, located on Bletchley Park in Block H, one of England’s ‘irreplaceable places’, is an independent charity housing the world's largest collection of functional historic computers, including reconstructions of the wartime code-breaking Colossus and the Bombe, and the WITCH, the world's oldest working digital computer. The Museum enables visitors to follow the development of computing from the ultra-secret pioneering efforts of the 1940s through the large systems and mainframes of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, and the rise of personal computing in the 1980s and beyond.

The Museum runs a highly successful Learning Programme for schools and colleges and promotes introductions to computer coding amongst young people to inspire the next generation of computer scientists and engineers.

Sponsors of the Museum have included Bletchley Park Science and Innovation Centre, Fujitsu,, Paessler AG, Sophos, Issured, Lenovo, Bloomberg, Ocado Technology, 4Links, Google UK, IBM, NPL, HP Labs and BCS.

For more information, see and follow @tnmoc on Twitter and The National Museum of Computing on Facebook.

Photo credit: Andy Taylor