Computer 50 Launch Event
Presentation, multimedia event and ceremony
Wednesday 17 June, Bridgewater Hall


Lord Mayor of Manchester giving concluding address at Computer 50 Launch Event

The fabulous Computer 50 Launch Event at the Bridgewater Hall took place on Wednesday 17th of June. Invited guests had come from as close as Manchester University and as far away as Asia and America to attend the Computer 50 festivities. Though I'd arrived without a ticket, I was given perhaps the best seat in the house - in the middle directly in front of the stage. We were treated to an impressive two hour multimedia spectacular, using lighting effects, still and moving pictures on large screens, and live drama, recreating the moment in 1948 when Tom Kilburn and Freddie Williams successfully got the Small Scale Experimental Machine to work.
Professor Kilburn then came onstage and gave his personal perspectives on the events leading up to June 1998. During his talk, there was a link-up via satellite to the Museum of Science and Industry, about half a mile away. On screen was the smiling face of Christopher Burton, the man who led the team that rebuilt the "Baby", and whom I interviewed last week. Professor Kilburn and Lady Williams, widow of Professor Williams, onstage at the Bridgewater Hall, pressed the button and the program ran once again, displaying the words: "Hello World 1948".

There were presentations by Sebastian de Ferranti, Keith Todd, ICL Chief Executive, Bill Perry of Barclays Bank, Peter Cochrane, research head at BT and Mac aficionado, Judy Nunn of the BBC, the University Chancellor The Lord Flowers, Vice Chancellor Professor Martin Harris, and the Lord Mayor. Honorary degrees were conferred on Chris Burton, Tom Kilburn, Sebastian de Ferranti and Michael Brady (see picture below). All in all it was an extremely professional, informative and entertaining afternoon.

Conferring of Manchester University honorary degrees