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Science and Industry Museum

Family event celebrates the amazing history of computers

Step back in time and learn how one of the first computers worked, and how it shaped the world we now live in.

For immediate release

Think of all the machines that you use in your everyday life—your phone, a computer or laptop, perhaps a games console—and now imagine that they weren’t there.

The world would be a very different place without computers, so this June, the Museum of Science and Industry is inviting visitors to learn about the computer that helped make the world we live in today a reality: the Small Scale Experimental Machine, or 'Baby'

Baby was built in 1948 here in Manchester, and will celebrate its 70th birthday on 21 June. It was the world’s first computer that was able to run a program from memory. Having successfully proven that computers were capable of remembering instructions, this revolutionary machine was disassembled for parts, to be used on the computers that built upon its modest design concept. However, 20 years ago, the arduous task of rebuilding it was completed, making it the world’s only working replica of the computer. It now lives at the museum, not far from the original’s home at the University of Manchester.

From 21 to 24 June, the Museum of Science and Industry will be running events including talks, shows and hands-on experiments to mark Baby's 70th anniversary, as well as the 20th anniversary of the completion of the replica. 

On 21 June, the museum will host the Manchester Lecture from the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, an event suitable for adults and families with older children, where the origins of Baby will be showcased in depth. 

On Saturday 23, the museum will be hosting a special Baby-themed Pi: Platform for Investigation – Powered by Siemens, running from 10.30 to 15.30, while across the weekend of 23 and 24 June, visitors will be able to learn more about Baby in the Revolution Manchester Show.

See how far computing has come since Baby—from cyber security to coding robots—and don’t forget to meet the museum’s replica.

This will be a very special celebration for Baby, a ground-breaking machine, as it turns 70.

Notes to editors

For more information or images, please contact Megan McTigue at the Museum of Science and Industry on Megan.McTigue@msimanchester.org.uk.

ABOUT THE MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY

The Museum of Science and Industry tells the story of where science met industry and the modern world began. Manchester was one of the first global, industrial cities, and its epic rise, decline and resurrection has been echoed in countless other cities around the world. From textiles to computers, the objects and documents held in the museum’s collection tell stories of everyday life over the last 200 years, from light bulbs to locomotives.  The museum’s mission is to inspire all its visitors, including future scientists and inventors, with the story of how ideas can change the world, from the industrial revolution to today and beyond. 

The Museum of Science and Industry is part of the Science Museum Group, a family of museums which also includes the Science Museum in London; the National Railway Museum in York and Shildon; and the Science and Media Museum in Bradford. The Science Museum Group is devoted to the history and contemporary practice of science, medicine, technology, industry and media. With 5 million visitors each year and an unrivalled collection, it is the most significant group of museums of science and innovation worldwide.