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Department of Computer Science and Technology

Image shows Prof Maurice Wilkes with EDSAC

In 1949 EDSAC, the first computer built in Cambridge, took up an entire room and needed a committee of experts to programme it. Today, the latest – the Raspberry Pi  – sits in a hand and is being used to help Primary School children learn to code.

In 'The Antiques Code Show', an event taking place on 28 September, we’ll take attendees on a virtual tour of Cambridge computer science, showing how Cambridge researchers helped usher in the era of computing as we know it today, and how we’ve continued to lead the field ever since.

Innovations produced in Cambridge over the years include the BBC Micro, launched in 1981. It went on to sell over 1.5 million and is the computer on which so many people in the 1980s and '90s  first learned computer programming.

In the 1990s, early mobile devices called 'active badges' were developed here, helping pioneer the use of location sensing technology, which is ubiquitous today. In the same decade, the first webcam was also created here (to help caffeine-hungry computer science researchers keep an eye on the coffee pot!). 

The innovations continue today. Our CHERI research into computer security leads the UK government's £170m 'Digital Security by Design' programme. And researchers here are developing new sensor technologies to remotely monitor the health of both humans and animals and help us more quickly and easily detect disease.

The Antiques Code Show will take place at 6:00 pm (BST) on 28 September. It takes the form of a webinar, with pre-recorded content being interspersed with live responses and Q&A sessions. Among others, our guides will include Sophie Wilson (co-designer of the BBC Micro), Sir Andy Hopper (Professor of Computer Technology and leader of the 'active badges' project), Quentin Stafford-Fraser (co-creator of the webcam,) Eben Upton (alumnus and co-founder of Raspberry Pi) and Cecilia Mascolo (Professor of Mobile Systems and co-developer of the Covid-19 Sounds app).

Published by Rachel Gardner on Tuesday 31st August 2021