Tommy Flowers chief designer Colossus and Highgate Wood

Tommy H Flowers MBE 1905-1998

Desginer of the Colossus electronic computer and lead researcher at GPO Telecommunications Research into electronic switching

Flowers to Fibre: How one mans vision opened the door to todays communications systems

The exhibition will tell the story of Britain’s telecommunications network technology that took us from operators manually routing telephone calls to the latest fibre networks being laid today...

...and the influential figures that brought our telephony network to life including Tommy Flowers, the inventor of Colossus who whilst on holiday in Barmouth in 1947 started to think over how a computer could be used to route telephone calls. He set up a team at the GPO Research Station at Dollis Hill to develop many ideas which are now common place but at the time were absolutely groundbreaking. It details the milestone technologies that were fundamental to the evolution of the network over the years including displays on:

  • The Strowger years and early electromagnetic telephone exchange technology
  • Tommy Flowers’ work which laid the foundations for fully electronic telephone exchanges
  • The Highgate experiment and eventual breakthrough with Empress and Moorgate
  • The System X revolution that brought digital switching to the telephone
  • Before always on - let's call the internet! The story of dial-up networking
  • The dawn of broadband
  • Fibre optics feeds in: Beyond 2025

Featuring an interactive and working Strowger telephone exchange, an original System X prototype, and a working dial-up service for PC internet access. Visitors will be invited to try out an interactive, digital quiz and there will be STEM activities and competitions for children and schools.

Under our feet and above our heads, there’s a quiet revolution happening. A century of copper cables snaking millions of miles across our country is being replaced by fibre-optic cables. For the first time in over a hundred years, the technology which connects every one of us is being replaced and upgraded.
Our exhibition tells the story of our fixed-line telecommunications network. It’s a technology that underpins our everyday life and means that no matter whether we’re speaking to our next-door neighbour or videoconferencing someone on the other side of the world, we’re always connected.

A video made by the researchers at Dollis Hill in the early 70''s showing what the envisonged communications to be like by the 1990s.

Tickets can be pre-booked here. If you are a CMT member a 50% discount is available please email us for a promo code or you can show your CMT membership card if you purchase a ticket at the door.

For opening times and directions visit The National Museum of Computing website

This exhibition has been sponsored by Andrews & Arnold. For home, for business, or for your home office, A&A delivers high quality Internet connectivity and VoIP. They aim to provide a brilliant service by both technical and social means. Their network capacity and monitoring ensure low latency and no 'evening slowdown' that is often seen on other providers, and their staff are UK-based enthusiastic experts in the field, not following support scripts. If you are looking for reliable connectivity with great customer service check out their reviews!