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Doron Swade

 An academic who masterminded an 18-year project to recreate a 19th Century computer, a dedicated nurse and an 84-year old volunteer are among Kingstonians rewarded in the UK 2009 New Year's Honours List.

Dr Doron Swade, 64, is a leading academic in computer history and a world renowned expert on the work of English mathematician Charles Babbage and has been awarded an MBE for services to the history of computing.

Dr Swade, a former curator at the London Science Museum, said: “I am hugely flattered and very, very grateful.

“I've always said honours and acknowledgements are the result of good work and I just try to do good work.”

Dr Swade masterminded a project to build a working replica of one of Babbage’s ‘calculating engines’ from the original 19th century plans and negotiated the acquisition of rare computers including a Russian Cold War supercomputer and the last working totalisator in the country for the National Computer Collection.

He said: “The history of computing is a relatively obscure but massively important field and so this award is wonderful for the field.”

Dr. Doron Swade is director of the Babbage Project and curated the Computer History Museum's Babbage Engine Exhibit.

Doron is an engineer, historian, and museum professional. He was Senior Curator of Computing at the Science Museum, London, for fourteen years and later Assistant Director & Head of Collections.

He is an internationally recognized authority on the life and work of Charles Babbage, the 19th-century English mathematician and computer pioneer. He masterminded the eighteen-year construction of the first Babbage Calculating Engine built to original 19th-century designs. The Engine, completed in 2002, weighs 5 tons, and consists of 8,000 parts.


As the Science Museum's Senior Curator of Computing he directed and managed the national computing and electronics collections. He researched, lectured, published, and publicized his field through broadcast and written media. In 1989 he founded the Computer Conservation Society, a specialist group of the British Computer Society, dedicated to the restoration to working order of historic computing machines. He pioneered the philosophy, policy and working practices for interventionist restoration and the work has led to several of the major reconstructions in the modern era.

For over a decade he designed and built mechanical, electrical, electronic and computer-based interactive educational exhibits for museums, and pioneered reliability techniques for operation in hostile public environments. He has consulted extensively for the computer industry in the United Kingdom and the US.

Doron has curated many exhibitions. He has authored three books and over seventy scholarly and popular articles on curatorship, museology, and history of modern computing, including cover-feature articles in Scientific American and New Scientist. His most recent book is The Cogwheel Brain: Charles Babbage and the Quest to Build the First Computer (Little, Brown, 2000) (Published in the US as The Difference Engine (Viking-Penguin 2001)). He lectures widely and has been frequently interviewed on radio and television.

Doron has studied physics, electronics engineering, philosophy of science, machine intelligence, and history, at various universities including Cambridge University and University College London, and University of Cape Town. He has a BSc Hons. in physics and electronics engineering, an MSc in control engineering, and a PhD in history of computing (University College London). He is a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of the British Computer Society, and a member of several scholarly societies.

Concurrently with his work at the Computer History Museum Doron is Visiting Professor (History of Computing) at Portsmouth University, and an Honorary Research Fellow (Computer Science) at Royal Holloway University of London where he is researching advanced simulation techniques for historical reconstructions, and the use of computers in historical research.


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