‘Meccanomen’ on hand as historian demonstrates historic computer

The unlikely link between the children’s toy Meccano and the birth of computers will be demonstrated by University historian Tom Ritchie at an event this evening (9 October).

The workshop at the University’s Templeman Library – which is free, open to all and set to run from 17.30-19.30 – will feature a fully working model of the 1934 Hartree Differential Analyser, a precursor to modern computers.

Tom Ritchie, of the School of History, will present a paper on the original Analyser before demonstrating a working model rebuilt from Meccano with the help of members from the ‘International Society of Meccanomen’, a modern toy-enthusiast group.

Members of the audience will be able to see the model in working order, ask questions about how Meccano originally came to be used to build the analogue computer, and play with some modern sets of the toy.

Tea and coffee will be served at the beginning of the event, which is being held in the Special Collections and Archives section of the library, followed by a wine reception.