Video Archive

Viva Computer records the memories of the engineers, inventors, microchip designers, game developers, tech entrepreneurs and end users who have helped create the high-tech world we live in today.

Their stories, freely available in this audio-visual archive, help us gain a deeper understanding of the computing industry’s history of innovation, and Cambridge’s unique position within it. Many of the stories are told by the innovators of the time; others are told by ordinary people who kindly told their stories as part of our drop-in memory shops.

Viva Computer! is supported by a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).

The interviewees have been generous in sharing their memories and visitors to these pages are asked to treat this material with respect and sensitivity. The content of oral history interviews is personal, experiential and interpretive because, by its nature, it relies on the memories, perceptions and opinions of individuals. If you refer to this material elsewhere, please present the recordings in context so that interviewees’ meanings are not misconstrued.

All interviewees have given permission for the recording to be preserved as a permanent public reference resource for use in research, publication, education, lectures, broadcasting and the internet. The views expressed in these recordings should not be taken as statements of fact or opinion endorsed by The Centre for Computing History or by any of the organisations referred therein.

The Centre for Computing History is committed to continuing this project. If you’d like to be part of the story, please get in touch.

  • Eben Upton - Life Before Raspberry Pi

    Eben Upton, the man behind the £25 Computer - Raspberry Pi, talks about his first experiences with computers like the BBC Micro and the Commodore Amiga. He also talks about his days at Cambridge University and meeting his wife to be, Liz Upton.

  • David Allen and Steve Lowry - The BBC Micro and Computer Literacy Project

    David Allen and Steve Lowry talk about the development of the Acorn BBC Micro computer and the Computer Literacy Project.

    Part of the Heritage Lottery funded Viva Computer project from the Centre for Computing History.

    • TV Shows
    • 1980s
    • 1979-1987 BBC Education Computer Literacy Project
    • Early CD-ROM Carnegie Mellon
    • Steve Jobs
    • 1977 Horizon: Now the Chips Are Down
    • Government policy
    • 1980 The Silicon Factor
    • Brian Redhead
    • BASIC
    • John Coll Micro Users in Secondary Education
    • Adopted BASIC for Computers (ABC)
    • Grundy NewBrain
    • Acorn Computers
    • Micros in School scheme
    • Teletext decoders Ceefax
    • The Computer Programme (1982 TV series)
    • Microelectronics Education Programme
    • Making the Most of the Micro Live
    • Ian McNaught-Davis John Coll
    • Tangerine Acorn Sinclair
    • Acorn Computers
    • Newbury Labs
    • John Radcliffe
    • Acorn Archimedes ARM
    • Computers in Control
  • Andrew Oliver - The Early Days of The Oliver Twins

    An interview with Andrew Oliver about his, and his brother Philip, early career in the video game industry.

  • Andy Hopper - The Cambridge Ring and the Computer Lab

    Andy Hopper talks about the development of the Cambridge Ring network and also reflects on the Cambridge Computer Lab, its innovation and commercial successes and failures.

    • Cambridge Computer Lab
    • Cambridge Ring
    • Maurice Wilkes
    • Roger Needham
    • Andrew Herbert
    • Ferranti
    • Alison Smith
    • Acorn Computers
    • Networks
    • Bluetooth
    • iPhone
  • Interview with Andy Hopper

    An interview with Professor Andy Hopper of Cambridge Computer Lab. Filmed on 26/02/2010. Jason Fitzpatrick of The Centre for Computing History talks to Andy about his involvement in computing and the projects he has worked on.

  • Chris Turner - The BBC Domesday System and Laserdiscs

    Chris Turner talks about the development of the BBC Domesday System and why Laserdisc technology was chosen for the project.

  • Chris Turner - Acorn and the BBC Micro

    Jason Fitzpatrick of The Centre for Computing History talks to Chris Turner about his involvement with Acorn and the BBC Micro computer.

    • 1980s
    • Acorn Computers
    • Hermann Hauser
    • Pye Unicam
    • Commodore PET
    • Pye TVT
    • MK14
    • Steve Furber
    • Cambridge Computer Lab
    • Cambridge
    • Teletext
    • David Allen
    • Andy Hopper Olivetti Research Laboratory
    • ARM
  • Christopher Curry - "It was always enthusiasm, growth and opportunity"

    Chris Curry talks about his early days at Sinclair Radionics and Acorn Computers and the development of the BBC Micro.

    • 1980s
    • Music
    • Acorn Computers
    • Amplifiers
    • Sinclair X-10 amplifier
    • Royal Radar Establishment, Malvern
    • Sinclair Radionics
    • Sinclair Micromatic
    • Sinclair Z-12 amp
    • Sir Alan Sugar
    • Hi-fidelity stereo
    • Texas Instruments TMS 1802 chip
    • Sinclair Executive calculator
    • Sir Clive Sinclair
    • Pocket televisions
    • Sinclair Black Watch
    • Rodney Dale
    • National Semiconductor SC/MP
    • Science of Cambridge MK14
    • Hermann Hauser
    • Acorn Atom
    • Grundy NewBrain
    • BBC Micro Acorn Proton
    • David Allen
    • Roger/Sophie Wilson
  • Dagmar - Viva Computer Drop In Shop - Berlin School of Economics

    Prof. Dagmar Monett, Professor of Computer Science at the Berlin School of Economics & Law talks about Computer Science in Berlin and on being the only female computer scientist in her faculty.

    • Education in Cuba
    • German Computer Science education
    • Gender
    • Education
    • Big Data
  • Institute of Astronomy - Scientific computing in the 60s

    Four people from the University of Cambridge Institute of Astronomy talk about the practicalities of 1960s scientific computing using IBM/360 series computers.

    • Dr Sverre J Aarseth
    • John Wosahlo
    • Stuart King
    • Michael Woods
    • Titan
    • Institute of Theoretical Astronomy
    • Fortran
    • Punched cards
    • Stephen Hawking
    • IBM/360
    • EDSAC2
    • Cambridge Computer Lab
  • John Hare - Sensible Software - The Video Games Industry in the 80s

    Jon Hare of Sensible Software talks about his career and the early days of the video game company. Interviewed by Mike James of Retro Gaming Roundup.

    • Gaming
    • 1980s
    • Sensible Software
    • 1985
    • ZX Spectrum
    • Sinclair
    • LT Software
    • Martin Galway
    • Commodore
    • Warner
    • Demise of 2D gaming
  • John Romero - How to Start Developing Video Games

    Some fantastic advice from game industry legend, John Romero, about how to get into creating your own games for mobile devices.

    John is best known as one of the co-founders of id Software and designer of groundbreaking games like Wolfenstein 3D, Doom and Quake.

    • Gaming
    • 2D games
    • Corona SDK LUA
    • Indie games
  • John Steele - Ferranti and the Argus 100 Computer

    An interview with John Steele who worked at Ferranti from 1963 to 1970. John talks about the Argus 100 computer and what it was like to work at Ferranti.

    • Argus 100
    • Cost Comparisons
    • Working at Ferranti
    • Designing the Argus 400
  • Jonathan - Viva Computer Drop In Shop - Coding as an Art Form

    Jonathan Pallant talks about what its like to work in embedded programming at the modern day Cambridge Consultants.

    • Commodore 64
    • Turbo Pascal
    • Cambridge Consultants
    • Cambridge
    • The art of coding
    • Raspberry Pi
  • Nadine and Lilia - Viva Computer Drop In Shop - Intergenerational interview about computing past and present

    A mother (a teacher) and her daughter talk to each other about computers.

    • Education
    • Generational differences
    • Robots are the future
    • Google forms
    • Cyberbullying
  • Natasa Milic-Fayling - Digital Preservation

    Natasa Milic-Fayling talks about software preservation and virtualising operating systems to ensure access to old file types.


    • Digital preservation
    • Obsolescence
    • Digital migration
    • Digital heritage
    • Cloud technology
  • Paul and Henry - Viva Computer Drop In Shop - X-boxes, iPads and Computers

    A father (an IT professional) and son talk about computing/gaming in the 1980s, now and in the future.

    • 1980s
    • Generational differences
    • Gaming
    • Oliver twins
    • Sinclair
    • Apple watch
    • Computing and health
  • Chris, Colin & Paul - Viva Computer Drop In Shop - "Its a privileged thing to be a programmer."

    Chris Moller, Colin Rosenstiel and Paul Hardy join together to talk about digital obsolescence and the changes they've witnessed in computing over the past 50 years.


    • Fortran
    • Punched cards
    • IBM/370 Model 165
    • Bell ringing
    • Tech obsolescence
    • Big Data
    • Generational differences
    • Acorn Computers
    • Raspberry Pi
  • Peter Cunningham - Early Computers in Education

    Dr. Peter Cunningham talks about his experiences with micro computers in education throughout the eighties and nineties. Peter talks about Acorn BBC Micro computers, The Turtle, RM Nimbus computers and how they have changed education.

    • 1980s
    • Research machines 380Z
    • Dot matrix printers
    • BBC Domesday Project
    • Acorn
    • Early computing in schools
    • History education
    • Education projects
    • 900th anniversary of Domesday book
    • 1984
    • Census
    • Acorn BBC Master
    • Laserdisc
    • Obsolescence
    • RM Nimbus
    • Turtle robot
    • Early programming in schools
    • Computer analysis of historical data
    • Early school performance data
    • National Curriculum
    • SATS
    • Chris Woodhead
    • Education policy
    • Computers and access to historical documents
  • Rachel Jones - "I'm not a geek but I love technology."

    Dr Rachel Jones talks about her career in product design in the field of human-computer interaction. She talks about the projects she has worked on and reflects on the sociotechnological changes she has witnessed and on being a woman in a STEM field.


    • Gender
    • Instrata
    • Product design
    • Cambridge Xerox Parc
    • Rise of networks
    • Human computer interaction
    • Device ecologies
    • Rise of mobile apps
    • Home/work distinction
    • Innovate UK
    • Internet of Things
    • Cambridge
    • I’m not a geek but I love technology
    • Cambridge
    • Women in STEM
    • Education
    • Microsoft Research
    • Amateur musicians and social media
  • Richard - Viva Computer Drop In Shop

    Richard Ross-Langley talks about his varied career in various programming roles.

    • IBM360 punch cards
    • English Electric Marconi
    • COBOL handwriting analysis
    • Banking
    • Decimalisation
    • Burroughs Corporation Peru
    • Othello Reversi Martin Brennan Sinclair
  • Rodney Dale on Cambridge Consultants

    Rodney Dale talks about the earliest days of Cambridge Consultants.

    • Cambridge Consultants
    • Cambridge
    • Alice Heim
    • Sinclair
    • Enderbys Mill, St Ives
    • Lyons, LEO
    • EDSAC
  • Torch: We were "bright young things who didn't know what was impossible."

    Russell Lyons and Martin Baines describe the early days of Torch Computers.

    • Hermann Hauser
    • Chris Curry
    • 1980s
    • Cambridge
    • BBC Micro
    • Walter Herriot
    • Cambridge Computer Lab
    • Peter Headland
    • Networks
    • Peter Headland
    • Shipping/QEII
    • Welsh Development Agency
    • Ray Anderson/Bango
    • Peter Harris/Hotel Chocolat
    • IBM
    • Unix
    • Acorn Computers
    • Oscar Peterson (Jazz musician)
    • Music
  • Ruth Bramley - "Cutting edge and very exciting."

    Ruth Bramley reflects on working at Sinlcair Research in the early 1980s.

    • 1980s
    • Sinclair
    • Sinclair Oxford 300
    • ZX80
    • Sinclair User
    • ZX81
    • Cambridge
    • WHSmith
    • Gender
    • Rick Dickinson
    • COBOL
    • ALGOL 60
    • Punched cards
    • Jim Westwood
    • Sir Clive Sinclair
    • Gender
    • Sinclair ZX printer
    • TV Programmes
  • Steve Lockwood - A traditional, analogue musician who relies on technology

    Steve Lockwood talks through how computer technologies have changed musicianship in recent years.

    • Technology and music
    • Sequencing
    • Atari Cubase
    • Neobilly
    • Collaborative musicianship
    • Harmonica
    • Logic Pro
    • Adobe Audition
  • Smash Brothers - Talking to the Players

    Edward Fox talks to competitive Smash Brothers players to find out why they play, what drives them and the scene around e-sports.

    Team sponsored by The Centre for Computing History

    • Gaming
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