Thursday, October 11, 2012 | 8:20 PM
For most people, computing seems such a modern pastime that little thought is given to its history. Thankfully, there are exceptions. Today was a chance to pay tribute to some dedicated preservers of computing heritage, via the Tony Sale Award for Computing Conservation.
This award, sponsored by Google, is managed by the Computer Conservation Society and named in memory of Tony Sale, leader of the project to reconstruct Colossus. Tony’s son Nigel now manages a technical team at Google, so fittingly was our representative on the judging panel.
As Nigel describes:
“The bigger the challenge, the more motivated Dad would be to prove he could do it. When he started a new project it would be his entire focus. I often remember him sitting in his study, surrounded by piles of papers, wires and circuit boards, with his soldering iron smoking away as he pondered the latest problem. I can see many things that my Dad would admire in all the entries. All faced challenges and overcame obstacles; many have taken years to complete. What underlines them all is a dedication to succeed, of which I know my Dad would approve”.
There were four finalists, each deserving of commendation:
- The project to restore a functioning 1959 DEC PDP-1, led by Dag Spicer of the Computer History Museum in California
- Time-Line, a collection of equipment that has been assembled with great dedication over two decades by Michael Armstrong in Wigton, UK
- The reconstruction and simulation of Konrad Zuse’s Z3 by Raúl Rojas in Berlin
- “Love letters” -- an art installation featuring romantic messages generated by a replica of a Ferranti Mark 1 by Dr David Link in Cologne.
“The winning entry is both a brilliant technical construction and a work of art. Its fusion of art, engineering and history celebrates one of the first artistic applications of the computer in a visually attractive way. The wide cultural appeal, originality and touch of genius of this entry set it apart and has given us an inspiring first winner of the Tony Sale Award”
There’s an old saying, never forget where you came from. Thanks to all who commit their time and energy to ensuring this doesn’t happen to computing.