Oliver Duke-Williams of UCLDH gave a talk on ‘Coding Early Computers’ on June 10th as part of Invisible Numbers, a group show taking place as part of the E17 Art Trail; the show continues until June 18th.
The E17 Art Trail is a biennial event in Walthamstow, London; the 2017 edition is the largest so far, with over 7000 contributors, and is centred on the theme of STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Maths, and exploring artistic themes within STEM areas.
One part of the show is E A Newman & Pilot ACE: Turing’s Legacy; put together by historian Kirstin Sibley and illustrator Andrew Baker, it brings into the spotlight Edward (‘Ted’) Newman, who worked alongside Alan Turing and others in the development of the Automatic Computing Engine (ACE). Newman – who graduated from UCL in 1938 with a BSc in Physics – was born and grew up in Walthamstow, but is not commonly recognised (either locally or more widely) for his pioneering work in computing. This lack of recognition thus fits well with the show’s ‘Invisible’ signifier.
Kirstin and Andrew asked Oliver to join them to describe and explain the significance of the Pilot ACE computer for a general audience, and also to provide technical advice for a series of infographics which described the ACE and Newman’s contribution. This was a good opportunity to showcase ideas and research by academics to a public audience; the talks were standing-room only, and the gallery itself recorded over 700 visitors in the show’s opening weekend.