Narratives in the History of Computing: Constructing the Information Age Gallery at the Science Museum

  • Tilly Blyth
Part of the IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology book series (IFIPAICT, volume 416)


One of the challenges of exhibiting the complex, and mostly intangible, world of computing in a museum context is how you bring together the technology with the people involved and the information shared. The history of computing is not just a neat history of devices. Analogue, digital, mini, personal and supercomputers all reflect the material culture of information and communication technologies, but the story of information machines is a much more complex story of the interrelationship between networks of people, societal and cultural influences. This paper reflects on approaches to the display of the history of computing and suggests that a shift to narrative and users, rather than chronology and technological progress, invites a more engaging experience for the majority of visitors. It also suggests that there is an inherent value in the display of computing artefacts that goes far beyond that of working machines. Some machines can work on a profound level, not just a utilitarian one. The paper discusses the approach taken in the Science Museum’s Information Age gallery, opening in September 2014.


Museums displays history of computing 


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Copyright information

© IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tilly Blyth
    • 1
  1. 1.Keeper of Technology and Engineering, Science MuseumUK

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