OU Logic Tutor computer Image: The National Museum of Computing

Celebration includes a launch talk on 27 September

The National Museum of Computing (TNMOC) on Bletchley Park is marking the 50th anniversary of The Open University (OU) with a new display celebrating its early technology. The display is open to visitors to the museum on Bletchley Park until 31 December 2019.

The OU developed several innovative methods to enable its students to study on computers in their own homes before personal computers were the norm and the internet became commonplace.

The exhibition offers an opportunity to see six of these machines. It also presents an OU timeline, a video about the OU’s early computing and micro-electronics courses and an array of historic photographs of the OU’s computing since its foundation in 1969.

Roger Moore worked on the OU Home Computing Policy Unit in the 1980s and in various OU educational software roles until 2015. He said:

“In 1972, Vice-Chancellor, Walter Perry, noted that the OU had turned out 2,000 students capable of writing non-trivial BASIC programmes.

“Now, 50 years on, there are probably more than one million OU graduates who have gone on to advance the development of computing and IT in this country.”

Mr Moore, a TNMOC volunteer, curated the display with OU colleagues past and present. They brought together six of the early OU machines, including the Logic Tutor, MICRO 1, HEKTOR, OPUS and DESMOND, with some of the course software.

Launch talk – twenty years of teaching computing and microelectronics at the OU

Restoration of a HEKTOR is underway with the aim of giving visitors an opportunity for hands-on access to the early days of OU computing, and to program in Assembler or BASIC.

The HEKTORs enabled some students access to OU computer centres from their homes.

There will be a launch talk at 2 pm on Friday, 27 September 2019. Entitled ‘Twenty years of teaching computing and microelectronics at the Open University‘, the presenter, John Naughton, is an Emeritus Professor of the Public Understanding of Technology, Open University, and a journalist at The Observer.

Tickets for the talk will be part of the museum entry fee.

OU OPUS computer Image: The National Museum of Computing