Timeline charts history of computing

COMPUTING FOCUS: Bob Doran compares today’s technology with that of times gone by.
COMPUTING FOCUS: Bob Doran compares today’s technology with that of times gone by.

A new display charts the history of computing, from the giant room-sized machines of old to the current pocket-sized versions.

The timeline takes up a huge wall in the University of Auckland's computer science department and begins with the humble abacus. It is open to the public to view.

"It starts at the very beginning with things that came before computers," retired professor Bob Doran says.

"It's the whole history, from punch cards, mathematical logic and electronics up until they become commercial products from the 1950s."

Dr Doran managed the creation of the display, which replaces an earlier version removed as part of building work at the university.

Also on display in the foyers of the computer science building is a collection of hardware, computing books, games, posters and packaging from across the ages.

"Our department always had lots of stuff given to us, things people couldn't bear to give away. We have five floors of stuff.

"It's a walk down memory lane for older people, and even younger ones because what they regard as history isn't very old at all."

The material charts New Zealand's computing history and mentions events like the building of the Harbour Bridge to give perspective.

Dr Doran says the advances made in the 1980s were especially significant.

"It was a heady time for nerds."

The timeline is on the ground floor of the Science Building on Princes St and is open to the public during business hours.

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