It all started, as these things do, with a conversation with my brother. These conversations always go along the lines of him saying we should do something, me agreeing and then nothing happening. This one was different, I had an idea for a road trip to Cambridge to visit the Centre For Computing History.

For some reason my brother Dazza is a little wary of agreeing to road trips, as I have a tendency to underestimate the journey he will be driving by a few miles, he always brings up our trip to the Revival Retro event a few years ago in Wolverhampton. On that occasion I estimated a trip around 30 miles each way from Milton Keynes to Wolverhampton (I used to work for a company there so did know really but he doesn’t need to know that) it was after around 60 of those 30 miles there that Dazza questioned the estimate, but it was too late then.

Anyway, I digress, our trip to Cambridge, I assured my little brother, would be around 15 miles each way (Google Maps states 55 miles but he doesn’t need to know that right?) so he agreed we would go on Sunday. He arrived in his car and we set off with his phone guiding us and me covering the real distance until we had passed St. Neotts. By then it was too late…

 

worlds largest microprocessor at CFCH

We arrived at the CFCH in good time and paid the very reasonable entrance fee, and started looking around. We were shown the record breaking largest microprocessor in action and played Tetris on it. This is an amazing display which fills the entrance lobby, it shows the data being moved around, and can be played in real time at which point all the LEDs showing the data movement all appear to be lit up, or it can be slowed down to watch as the instructions are stepped through by the various logic circuits. The microprocessor display was explained and demonstrated to us by one of the museum volunteers, who slowed it down and then increased the speed, then encouraged my daughter to play Tetris.

 

The next display you can see is the row of arcade machines, all set to free play, and on original hardware with multi game choices. Ms Pacman was chosen as the game Uncle Dazza had to thrash my daughter at. He did win too, those pesky ghosts kept killing Phoebe but missing him on his go. After the fun we walked into the 80s school zone. This was just like our old school computer room back in the 80s where most people were using the BBC computers to play games!

CFCH 80s computer classroom

Research Machines 380Z

I am sure our school had one of these in the computer room..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a play on the computers in the classroom we moved onto the main hall which housed a lot of up and running microcomputers from the early days, including the CPC, Acorn Electron, Tatung and many others all set up and whats more, you are allowed to play on them!

As it was the 35th anniversary of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum when we went on 23/4/2017, we have to show it some love here surely?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ZX81 was also in evidence and usable for me to show off those computer skills we learned back in the days of BASIC

Dazza wasn’t so impressed with my programming skills for some reason, so we moved along to the games consoles and arcade cabinets area. A lot of playable consoles are there for the playing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Centre For Computing History also has a selection of early computers and a 70s office to enjoy. As well as the history of hard discs and digital storage, you can see how communications have been affected by the computer revolution, looking along the time line of mobile telephones in the display cabinet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And still there was more to see and do, see our complete photo collection, but I would advise anyone who can, should go and visit the Centre for Computing History as it is a very interesting, informative and fun day out even for the children who can play on the games their parents will be nostalgic for.