Category Archives: Computer Engineering

Tommy Flowers and The Colossus

Tommy Flowers


Born: 22 December 1905


Died: 28 October 1998


Profession: Engineer


Nationality: British


Engineer Thomas Flowers (“Tommy”) was born in London’s East End in 1905 and undertook an apprenticeship in mechanical engineering as a young man, never dreaming that this would be the first stepping stone to a career filled with professional achievements, the most famous of which being the Colossus Computer. Working for the General Post Office (GPO) in 1926, he gained a thorough understanding of switching electronics through his work at the research station in Dollis Hill. This would later prove crucial to his work at Bletchley Park from 1941 onwards.


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HP Discover 2013 Recap


Barcelona was the location for the latest HP Discover Conference, with the event taking place from 10-12th December at the Fira de Barcelona, one of the largest exhibition spaces in Europe.

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Anniversary of the Gore Bill


Today marks the anniversary of the High Performance Computing Act of 1991 (HPCA) or Gore Bill as it is commonly referred to, having been the creation of Senator and Vice President Al Gore, with the purpose to ensure the United States maintained their leadership in high-performance computing, through a coordinated Federal Programme.


Gore is noted by many, including internet pioneers Bob Kahn and Vint Cerf, for his significant contribution in supporting the development of the internet, with Gore recognising very early on the potential impact the internet could have, and the wide-ranging educational and economic benefits it could bring, and influenced by a report by Leonard Kleinrock, a member of the team who created the ARPANET.


The passing of the bill would result in the establishment of the National Information Infrastructure (NII), also known as the Information Superhighway.  In addition to the NII, the HPCA also provided the essential funding for a National Research and Education Network (NREN).


Following the promulgation of the Act, the impact on the development of technological advances would be vast, and see the creation in 1993 of the Mosaic web browser, following the Bill’s funding of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications.  Marc Andreessen, Founder of Netscape, was part of the team working at the University of Illinois and Andreessen would later conclude that left to the private sector, it would have taken years to achieve the results seen following the Gore Bill’s implementation.


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Events in Computing History – December

December 2nd


Event: Apple QuickTime was first released

Interesting Facts:

  • The first ever release of QuickTime, which introduced a video codec, had the code name of “Road Pizza”.
  • QuickTime 2.0 was the only ever software which didn’t release a free version, it added support for music tracks, which contained the equivalent of MIDI data and which could drive a sound-synthesis engine built into QuickTime itself (using a limited set of instrument sounds licensed from Roland).
  • The latest version of QuickTime is 10.6, which includes visual chapters, conversion, sharing to YouTube, video editing, capture of video and audio streams, screen recording, GPU acceleration, and live streaming.

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Rasmus Lerdorf

Happy Birthday Rasmus Lerdorf


Congratulations to Rasmus Lerdorf, the renowned programmer responsible for creating PHP scripting language, who celebrates his 45th birthday today.


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Bill Gates – 58 Years of Success

With Bill Gates celebrating his 58th birthday this month, we’ve taken the opportunity to reflect on some of the biggest creations offered by Gates, which have formed part of the Microsoft portfolio.

Windows 95

Following its initial launch of Windows in November 1995, one of Microsoft’s biggest commercial successes would be with Windows 95. Now dating back some 18 years following its release in August 1995, the advancements made by Microsoft with this operating system allowed for the successful integration of both Windows and MS-DOS, with the graphical user interface providing for ease of use and the inclusion of new features such as the taskbar, start menu and the ability to close, minimize and maximize each window. Windows 95 quickly became the market leader, having sold over 7 million copies in its first five weeks of sales, helped in part by the extensive advertising campaign which launched the product including the Rolling Stones song Start Me Up featuring in commercials, with the Empire State Building also lit up with the colours which feature in the Windows logo.

Microsoft Office

With the first version of Microsoft Office featuring only Word, Excel and PowerPoint and dating back to November 1990, it would be Microsoft Office 3.0 which would allow the application to be installed from CD-ROMS for the first time, with the addition of features such as Microsoft Mail to the offering. Microsoft Office 4.3 would also see the first inclusion of Access to the Pro Edition. Microsoft Office 97 would contain a vast number of additional improvements and would see the first appearance of the Office Assistant. Office has come a long way with today’s packages offering the user a wealth of applications, as well as SharePoint workspace in its latest version, Microsoft Office 2013.


Microsoft’s game console Xbox hit the shelves in the USA in November 2001, with Europe having to wait until March the following year to try it out.  Launched to rival the PlayStation 2, the Xbox would achieve phenomenal success going on to sell over 24 million consoles.  With Xbox Live available from Microsoft bringing a new dimension to game play following its release in November 2002, Microsoft continued to grow the Xbox brand with Xbox 360 appearing in November 2005 taking on the Nintendo Wii and PlayStation 3.  With the Xbox 360 again proving a massive success with over 78 million units sold, we are left eagerly awaiting the launch of Xbox One on November 22nd this year.

Internet Explorer

Following Bill Gates’ famous memo The Internet Tidal Wave, which acknowledged the significance and importance that the development of the internet posed, Microsoft launched Internet Explorer in August 1995, it took the form of an adapted version of Mosaic which was on license by Microsoft from Spyglass Inc. at the time. Microsoft’s web browser would prove to be hugely popular with the majority of the market share.  With direct competition from the likes of Google Chrome and Firefox which joined the market later, Internet Explorer still maintains a significant market share, with Internet Explorer 11 having been released in October 2013.

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Founded in 1997 and one of Gates’ biggest personal creations, is the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation which focusses on ways to globally support and improve in areas such as extreme poverty and healthcare.  The Foundation offers significant support in the fight against Malaria, TB and HIV/AIDS and well as working to eradicate Polio.   The Foundation’s work also includes a Global Development Programme, and a United States Programme, the latter of which covers support for Schools and Universities including the funding of buildings and also offers scholarships.  Bill Gates has donated in the region of $28billion of his personal fortune to the Foundation, as stated in a recent Bloomberg report, and the amazing work carried out by the Foundation on a worldwide basis, has helped countless individuals to achieve a better life.

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Allen Coombs – Project Leader Colossus Mark 2


Allen William Mark Coombs was born on 23rd October 1911, in Bristol. Coombs obtained both a BSc and PhD following his studies at Glasgow University and Strathclyde, and progressed to work at the Post Office Research Station as an Electronics Engineer, based at Dollis Hill in London. Continue reading

Events in Computing History – October



1st October

Year: 1847

Event: Siemens, the multinational engineering and electronics corporation, was founded in Berlin

Interesting Facts:

  • Werner von Siemens founded Telegraphen-Bauanstalt von Siemens & Halske (Siemens & Halske Telegraph Construction Company) together with Johann Georg Halske, with the Pointer Telegraph being their first offering, an alternative solution to using Morse code.


  • In 1866, Werner von Siemens made a revolutionary discovery with the dynamo-electric principle, recognising the potential power source that electricity could provide.


  • In 1881, electric street lighting appeared for the first time ever, with a watermill together with a Siemens AC alternator providing the power to light the streets of Godalming in the UK.

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The CDC 6600 Supercomputer

Seymour Cray – Pioneer of the Supercomputer


Known as the father of supercomputing, Seymour Cray was born in Wisconsin, USA on 28th September 1925.   Following in his father’s footsteps, Cray had a keen interest in engineering and after completing his service during the Second World War, he went on to study both electrical engineering and applied mathematics.

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One Hit Wonders

one time Inventors in Computing Technology


Today is “One Hit Wonder Day”, although we at Iceni don’t work in the music industry, doesn’t mean we cannot enjoy the days event, so we have created a different alternative to the day, by thinking of a few inventors in the computing industry who have created a world changing invention but never created anything after the success of their first product.

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