When Maggie Philbin joined the BBC’s Tomorrow’s World team in the early 1980s, there wasn’t a single computer in the office. Today, along with the internet, they have come to reshape the way we live, work, communicate and play.
In this three-hour special recorded at Bletchley Park – the birthplace of the world’s first electronic computer – Maggie unearths some gems from the BBC sound archive that tell the remarkable story of IT and how one of the most important evolutions of modern history is also a reflection on us as human beings.
Programmes from the archive include: Magic Moments: Computers, first broadcast on Radio 4 in 1994 – incredibly, a year when there were still only 623 websites in the world – giving us a potted history of computers as seen 20 years ago; Mothers of Invention: Ada Lovelace, a radio drama written by Jerome Vincent from 2002 about the Victorian technology visionaries Lovelace and Charles Babbage; Electronic Brains: LEO The Lyons Computer, from 2001, about Britain’s unlikely postwar teashop IT pioneers; a classic 1984 episode of Radio 4’s The Levin Interview in which Bernard Levin interrogates Sir Clive Sinclair, the man who brought computers into our homes; Electric Journeys: Tim Berners-Lee, a revealing portrait from 2001 of the man credited with creating the world wide web; and a classic tale of dot com boom and bust, Radio 4’s I Was A Teenage Dot Com Millionaire, from 2010.
Joining Maggie at Bletchley to shed their own insight into the archive and this journey along the information superhighway are three denizens of the digital world – Aleks Krotoski, author of Untangling The Web and presenter of Radio 4’s Digital Human; Tom Chatfield, author of Netymology; and Chris Monk from the National Museum of Computing.
Maggie also gets to peek behind the scenes at Bletchley Park with Michael Smith, the author of the Secrets Of Station X, and Joel Greenburg, the author of Gordon Welchman: Bletchley Park Architect Of Ultra Intelligence, to find out how the Buckinghamshire site could have been the UK’s very own Silicon Valley...