The inaugural Tony Sale Award has been won by Dr David Link for his computer art installation LoveLetters, a replica of a 1951 computer with reconstructed software that generates texts to express and arouse emotions.
Dr Link's LoveLetters reconstructs the 1951 Ferranti Mark 1 computer which executes the original recovered software by Prof Christopher Strachey, a philosopher and pioneer in programming, to generate automated "love letters". Visitors can interact with a functional replica of the Ferranti Mark 1 containing many of its original components, to gain an authentic impression of the look-and-feel of the original computer.
The Tony Sale Award, managed by the Computer Conservation Society and sponsored by Google was set up to recognise achievements in the growing area of computer conservation. Tony Sale, perhaps best known for leading the team that rebuilt the Colossus computer, helped establish the Computer Conservation Society, co-founded The National Museum of Computing and was a key figure in starting the campaign to save Bletchley Park in the early 1990s.
Rachel Burnett, who chaired the panel of judges and is Chair of the Computer Conservation Society, said: "We were delighted by the quality and variety of the entries to this the first year of the Tony Sale Award. The nominations clearly developed the idea of computer archaeology and their exciting diversity made the task of judging very challenging!
The winning entry by Dr David Link is both a brilliant technical construction and a work of art. Its fusion of art, engineering and history celebrates one of the first artistic applications of the computer in a visually attractive way. The wide cultural appeal, originality and touch of genius of this entry set it apart for us and has given us an inspiring first winner of the Tony Sale Award."
Dr Link said: "I feel extremely honoured to officially step into the footsteps of a Colossus as bright and wonderful as Tony Sale. I am most grateful for the recognition of my work and I thank the members of the Computer Conservation Society, without whom the project, and the fun connected with it, would not have been possible."
Peter Barron, Director of External Relations at Google, which sponsored the Award, said: "It's important that we preserve not only the memories, but also the machines, if we are truly to understand and learn from our computing heritage. Google is delighted to support this award to recognise the unsung heroes who invest their time and skill to bring computers of the past back to life. Congratulations to all who took part."
Other nominations for the first Tony Sale Award were:
- DEC PDP1 restoration led by Dag Spicer of the Computer History Museum in California, USA: a computer restoration project of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC)’s first computer.
- Time-Line Computer Archive by Michael Armstrong & Sandra Hodson, in Wigton, West Cumbria, UK: aiming to collect, restore and exhibit all types of early computers and electronics.
- Z3 reconstruction in Hunsfeld, Germany, by Professor Doctor Raül Rojas: a reconstruction and simulation of Konrad Zuse’s Z3 Computer, originally built in Berlin between 1938-1941 and destroyed during World War II.
The award is kindly supported by a donation from Google UK Ltd
for which we express our thanks