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HPC and big data in the 1950s, or how a British company selling tea and cakes owned the world's first office computer

Video courtesy Science Museum, London, UK.

The Science Museum in London, UK, has opened a new permanent gallery celebrating more than 200 years of innovation in communication and information technologies. 'Information Age: Six Networks That Changed Our World' was inaugurated on 24 October by Queen Elizabeth II, who marked the occasion by posting her first message to the social networking website Twitter. Using the account @BritishMonarchy, she tweeted: "It is a pleasure to open the Information Age exhibition today at the @ScienceMuseum and I hope people will enjoy visiting. Elizabeth R." 

The free gallery boasts a wide range of objects that have shaped today's society, including the computer used by Sir Tim Berners-Lee as the world's first web server at CERN. Find out more about this computer, which CERN has loaned to the Science Museum, here.

The Science Museum has also commissioned a series of fascinating videos to mark the launch of the gallery. 'The computer that changed our world' (above) explains how J. Lyons and Co., a British firm best known for its popular chain of tea shops, came to own the world's first computer used for commercial business applications. The LEO I (Lyons Electronic Office I) computer had a mercury-based memory system, boasted a clock speed of 500 kilohertz, and was capable of storing a whopping 2 kilobytes of information!


More videos can be found on the Science Museum's YouTube channel.


- Andrew Purcell