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Galway’s Computer and Communications Museum shows rapid tech progress

A Galway museum capturing the technological advancements of the 20th and 21st centuries is to be opened to the public for the first time – and it’s hoped it could become one of the city’s leading tourist attractions.

The Computer and Communications Museum of Ireland, based at the University of Galway’s Data Science Institute in Dangan, was founded in 2009 and has served as an important learning resource for schools and colleges over the past 13 years.

But according to the museum’s curator and co-founder, Brendan ‘Speedie’ Smith, opening the doors to the wider public offers a unique opportunity to learn about the development of digital technologies and electrical communications in what is the only facility of its kind in Ireland.

“While we have rare and noteworthy historical artifacts secured in display cabinets for viewing only, our approach has always been to encourage, where possible, visitor interaction with our exhibits as we see ourselves as a living museum with a hands-on approach,” said Mr Smith, adding that this would be a major draw for visitors to the city.

The museum boasts a wide variety of games consoles and computers, taking visitors on a journey from the popular 20th century games such as Pacman, Sonic the Hedgehog, Mario, early Fifa and Star Trek, right up to the early 21st century developments including a suite of original Microsoft Xbox consoles which were the first to allow multiple users play games online.

Part of the Apple exhibition at the Computer and Communications Museum.

“There is also a wonderful operational Morse Code-based spark wireless telegraphy transmitter exhibit put together by museum board member Frank McCurry that recreates a Marconi radio system from the 1890s,” says Mr Smith.

“The Apple exhibit includes a Newton MessagePad from 1993, the first device to feature handwriting recognition software; the iBook laptop that in 2001 introduced free, easy-to-follow video editing to Irish schools; and 1980s Apple promotional memorabilia.”

Offering a glimpse into the not-too-distant past and illustrating the relative speed with which all these technologies have advanced, the museum also celebrates Galway’s history of computing and communications.

“There is a display that tells the story of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC), the second-largest computer company in the world when it came to Galway in 1971 – a move which helped transform the economic direction of the country.

“A further exhibit is dedicated to another influential multinational from the 1970s, namely Northern (Electric) Telecom, a major Canadian telecommunications corporation which opened a large manufacturing operation in Galway in 1973 – the first company in the world to deliver digital telecommunications products,” said Mr Smith.

“So, for all those thousands of Galwegians that worked at DEC and Northern Telecom/Nortel, as well as those who have fond memories of wireless radio, game consoles, school and business computers from the 20th century and early 21st century, a visit to the museum is a must.”

The museum was co-founded by Mr Smith with he late Chris Coughlan thirteen years ago and is now overseen by an independent board of directors comprising of members with many decades of experience in the technology sphere.

It is open to the public every Saturday, from 2pm to 4pm, with upcoming exhibitions on the history of robotics, early radio, vintage photography and a ‘mega-retro gaming extravaganza’.

For further information, contact

(Main photo: Staff of ARM Ireland with curator Brendan Smith (second from left) on a visit to the museum to mark ‘International Women in Engineering Day’ at the end of June).

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