An Introduction to the History of Computing Collection
"We had the experience, but we missed the meaning.” T. S. Eliot
The University’s History of Computing Collection contains equipment, software, archives, ephemera, oral histories, and videos. It was founded, in Autumn 2007, in order to study historically technological development and innovation and, especially, the relationship between computing technologies and people and society.
One important focus is the development of computing in Wales. We have found that by investigating the local history of computing we are better able to see and try to understand the complicated interplay of technical, social, economic and cultural "causes and effects".
The Collection is also interested in certain specialist areas of computing. The choice of these subjects reflects the interests of members of Swansea University and friends of the Collection. For example, we have an archive of L J Comrie, FRS (1893-1950), a pioneer of numerical methods, which contains notes and his collection of mathematical tables; and we have archives charting the development of theoretical computer science and formal methods for software engineering.
This website provides information about the Collection. It is also research tool to build the Collection, and encourage the interpretation and dissemination of computing history. We hope you find the ideas and reflections here interesting. We hope you will help us build the collection; you are most welcome to contact us.
John V Tucker
History of Computing Special Collections
The History of Computing Collection is home to some special collections.
Theory of programming
Our particular interest in programming and software development has attracted a number of gifts of archives. We have received collections of notes, articles and books from professors of computer science
- Willem Paul de Roever (Kiel),
- Peter van Emde Baos (Amsterdam),
- and Dines Bjorner (Copenhagen).
Taken together the archives cover much of the development of modern programming languages with an emphasis on formal methods for semantics, specification and verification.
Leslie J Comrie, FRS (1893-1950)
Comrie was a pioneer of numerical methods for science and engineering before computers, and our archive contains notes, papers and his collection of mathematical tables associated with his computation company Scientific Computing Service.
About the collection
Aims and Focus
Computers have transformed many aspects of science, society and culture since the 1940s. In each decade, the forces of change have intensified and show no sign of relaxing. The transformation is phenomenal and difficult to comprehend: there is a great need to study these technologies, their development and impact, from different points of view. The history of the transformation is not well documented, let alone analysed. There is a great need to rescue this history for our contemporaries and future generations to reflect upon.
The purpose of the collection is to
- Rescue, collect, preserve, document, and make available materials charting the history of computing, including books, papers, ephemera, images, videos, manuals, software and hardware.
- Work in partnership with museums, archives and learned societies to inform and educate scholars and students on the nature and history of technology.
- Maintain a working collection that can be of use in connection with legacy systems and obsolete digital media.
- Seek funding to grow and sustain the collection and associated activities, including commercial exploitation.
- Promote research on the local history of computing.
- Engage the interest of the public.
The Collection will focus on:
- Developments in hardware;
- Developments in programming and programming languages;
- Developments in software;
- Developments in theoretical understanding;
- Legacy systems and obsolete media;
- The impact of computing on Science, Industry, Business, Society and Culture;
- The history of computing and its influence in Wales and, especially, Swansea Bay.
Its users will be professional scholars, historians, and postgraduate and undergraduate students.
The History of Computing Collection is a partnership between Computer Science and Information Services and Systems (ISS).
History of Computing Collection Management Committee:
- Professor John V Tucker, Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor, Computer Science [Chair]
- Steve Williams, Deputy Director, ISS
- Tim Davies, Lecturer, Engineering/Electronics
- Phil Grant, Associate Professor, Computer Science
- Professor Peter Townsend
- Jon Evans
- David Wale
If you have an interest in the History of Computing in Wales or more widely, please feel free to contact us:
Images on this site are (c)Swansea University or their original owners.
Reuse of HoCC original images is permitted under CC BY-NC licence terms.