Queen sends first Twitter message at Science Museum tech gallery opening

24 Oct 2014

Rugby Tuning Coil in the Information Gallery

The Queen has posted her first message on Twitter, in honour of the opening of the new Information Age gallery at the Science Museum that celebrates the role of network technology in changing the world forever.

The £15.6m gallery was opened by Her Majesty on Friday 25 October, and the historic occasion was marked by a 140-character missive on the site.

No doubt Liz was impressed by the wonderful array of objects on display at the new gallery, as the curators at the museum have excelled themselves in tracking down and securing some notable items from tech history.

This includes the magnificent Rugby Turning Coil that takes pride of place in the centre of the new gallery (pictured above), as well as the computer used by Sir Tim Berners-Lee at Cern where he invented the concept for the web (shown below).

Sir Tim Berners-Lee computer where he invented the web

Another impressive object on display is a Russian BESM-6 supercomputer that was used during the Cold War, the only such machine on display in a museum in the West (below).

Russian supercomputer on display at the Science Museum

The gallery isn't just dominated by large, history-making objects, however, and includes smaller items that show just how fast technology has evolved. Even landline telephones, still in use in many households, have now taken on the air of relics, as the below exhibits demonstrate.

Landline phones are now museum relics

The Snoopy Phone, in particular, is a reminder that people have always enjoyed trying to demonstrate their personalities through their phones, not just smartphones.

Other objects on display include the original galvanometer used to receive the first telegraph messages sent across the Atlantic between President James Buchanan and Queen Victoria in 1858, and the original Marconi radio transmitter that made the first public broadcast in 1922.

V3 was lucky enough to have a preview of the exhibition, and the pictures we snapped represent just a fraction of the 800 or so items on display in the new space. Anyone with even a cursory interest in technology history, or looking to inspire young enquiring minds, should find plenty to enjoy.

The new gallery is open from Saturday 25 October and is free of charge.

Twitter turns eight: First tweets from the great and good of the tech world

21 Mar 2014


It is now eight years since the world was given the ability to share what was on its mind in 140-character snippets. Since then world leaders, pop stars, sporting heroes and top tech talents have all joined the bandwagon.

To celebrate eight years of success Twitter has created a nifty tool to help you easily find your first ever post on the site. V3 thought it would be fun to use the site to find out what some of the tech luminaries had to say for themselves. Some are more inspiring than others.

Bill Gates was snappy and to the point.

Oracle's Larry Ellison was his usual bullish self.

Apple CEO Tim Cook was late to the party and in typical business mode.

Security hero Eugene Kaspersky set about offering pearls of wisdom on staying safe online.

We're not sure what was going on when Sir Tim Berners-Lee first posted, but as he invented the web, we'll forgive him.

We here at V3 can't criticise too much, though, as our first effort was hardly the stuff of legend. Still, we like to think we've got a little better since then.

Our favourite, though, is Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, who kicked-off with a message about dancing and has never looked back.

Happy birthday Twitter. Here's to the next eight years.

Web@25: Sir Tim Berners-Lee's computer where it all began on show at Science Museum

12 Mar 2014

 Tim Berner's Lee computer at which the web was born

The computer used by Sir Tim Berners-Lee to write his proposal for the World Wide Web has been brought to the UK and is on display at the Science Museum. The NeXT cube has been brought over from Cern in Switzerland as part of celebrations to marks 25 years of the web.

Berners-Lee wrote his proposal at the machine in 1989, finally submitting it to the world on 12 March, with the terminal also acting as the world's first web server.

V3 went to the unveiling at the Science Museum to take a closer look at the machine and took some pictures of the historic piece of computing.

Sticker warning people not to turn off NeXT cube server

As you can see, Sir Tim's note to other Cern members warned them not to touch his machine as it was acting as a web server. The sticker is somewhat worn and torn, but it's still going strong. Credit must go to the pen makers too, as the writing has barely faded at all.

Keyboard used by Sir Tim Berners-Lee to write web proposal

The impact of Cern on the world can't be overstated. While it may spend much of its time hunting for hidden particles, it's also the birthplace of the web, as noted by the rather stylish ownership marks stuck on the various items Sir Tim used when he was working there.

The mouse at Sir Tim Berners-Lee computer

The NeXT computer may be a thing of the past now, but we can't help thinking its colourful logo and square design would actually look right at home in the world of Android and iOS 7 interfaces.

Tim Berner's Lee computer at which the web was born

Ultimately the machine is not much to look at, but it is incredible to think that from just this one machine an almost unfathomable amount of change, disruption and revolution has occurred. And it was all given to use free of charge by a man named Tim.

The Science Museum will now display the historic machine to the public. In the autumn it will become one of the key exhibits in the new £15.6m Information Age gallery where it will sit alongside other major exhibits such as the first transatlantic telegraph equipment used in 1858, the BBC’s first radio transmitter 2LO and a giant tuning coil from the Rugby Radio Station.

The internet celebrates 30 years of TCP/IP dominance

02 Jan 2013

vint-cerf-2010The start of 2013 marks a significant milestone for the internet, as it is 30 years ago that Arpanet, precursor of the modern day internet, was switched to running on the TCP/IP protocol stack, a move that paved the way for the global internet as we know it today.

Arpanet, or the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network, was itself the world's first operational packet-switched network, and a product of the Cold War era. It was developed to link together the numerous computer systems and sites operated by the US military, to make it easier to access resources at one location from any other on the network.

However, a major hurdle that the scientists and engineers faced was that the equipment at different sites was sourced from different vendors, and hence a host of incompatible communications technologies and protocols were in use.

One engineer involved in the Arpanet project was Vint Cerf, who in commemoration has posted an article to Google's official blog. Cerf outlines the situation back then, and the need for a common protocol that could be used to join the disparate networks together.

"There was no common language. Each network had its own communications protocol using different conventions and formatting standards to send and receive packets, so there was no way to transmit anything between networks," he wrote.

Transmission Control Protocol, or TCP, was developed by Cerf and others to meet this requirement, and evolved gradually, eventually being split into two separate parts - TCP and the Internet Protocol (IP) - before settling into a stable implementation with IPv4, the version which is still largely in use today.

The official Arpanet switchover to TCP/IP was performed on 1 January, 1983, and went relatively smoothly, according to reports, with just a few sites experiencing difficulties as other protocols were turned off.

In 1984, the US Department of Defense made TCP/IP the standard for all military computer networks, which led to its increased adoption in research facilities and educational establishments, and also set it on the path to becoming a standard for commercial IT products.

With TCP/IP, Arpanet formed the core of the fledgling internet, although the Arpanet itself was formally decommissioned in 1990.

Afterwards, the internet's growth into a global phenomenon was kick-started by the invention of the World Wide Web by Tim Berners-Lee at the start of the 1990s, but this development built on the existence of TCP/IP, which makes it possible for anyone with a compatible device to reach any other connected system around the world.

It is sobering to think that despite the introduction of IPv6, the vast majority of sites and systems on the internet are still using IPv4 - the same version of the protocol that was used when the switchover happened 30 years ago.

Happy 21st birthday World Wide Web

06 Aug 2012


It was 21 years ago today that Sir Tim Berners-Lee, then a humble scientist at CERN, made the first page on the World Wide Web publicly available. It’s hard now to imagine a world without the web, and it's hardly fathomable that just over two decades ago our lives were completely different based on the innovation and generosity of one man.

At its simplest level, the web was designed as a network of pages that could be accessed via terminals in homes and businesses to share information. But it has quickly become the cornerstone of how we carry out just about every task in business or our personal lives.

Shoppers now turn to the web to make their purchases, readers download their books from it, companies base their branding and marketing strategies on it. And then there’s the dot-com and web generation of giants which have become the business super powers of today, the Googles and Facebooks and Amazons. None of these could exist without the web, and what a different world it would be.

During his much-praised opening ceremony for the London Olympics, Danny Boyle chose to close his musical segment, documenting the wealth of British musical talent over the decades, with a rather surprising figure. We didn’t get Muse or Coldplay or Paul McCartney. We got Sir Tim Berners-Lee, sitting at a computer.

And how apt this appearance was, as Sir Tim tweeted out:

His reference was not only a message about the inclusivity of the London Olympics, but also reminded the audience of billions of his gesture all those years ago to donate the web to the world at large, rather than try to sell it off or keep it as a closed network.

There might have been a couple of uninformed NBC commentators – naming no names, Meredith Viera and Matt Lauer - who were shown up on air by assuming that nobody would have heard of Sir Tim, and advising their audience to “Google him”.

But we’re sure that the rest of the world are well aware now, if they weren’t before, that the whole Googling thing wouldn’t have been possible without Sir Tim and his web invention in the first place.

So Happy 21st World Wide Web, and here’s to many more exciting developments down the years.

Tim Berners-Lee recognised in opening ceremony extravaganza

28 Jul 2012

British physicist and computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee

So far, so good for the London 2012 Olympics.

As part of a moving opening ceremony, the celebration paid tribute to Sir Tim Berners-Lee, acknowledging the technology pioneer in front of the entire world.

The ceremony included the introduction of Berners-Lee behind a massive sign reading: "This is for everyone."

The tribute is quite fitting given the integral role technology and the web will play into London's Olympic plans.

In addition to the massive IT infrastructure upgrade required to host the media coverage and massive crowds, much of the facilities for the game will be transformed into the Tech City technology hub.

Acknowledging Berners-Lee is not only a noble gesture, but a re-affirmation of the city's commitment to the technology sector. The city hopes that IT will play an integral part in its future, so it is only fitting that they acknowledge Britain's rich technology history.

Perhaps this also means we're one step closer to giving other icons, such as Alan Turing, the recognition they so richly deserve.

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