Developing Links Between Ireland's Technology Heritage Museums

The Communications and Computer Museum (which I helped establish it as part of my Outreach work) at DERI NUI Galway intends to establish links with the telecommunications museum at the Alcatel-Lucent plant in Dublin.

I held discussions yesterday with the corporation’s Toby Joyce with a view to developing an ongoing working relationship between the two technology learning facilities that are unique to Ireland with the aim of promoting an awareness of technology innovation particularly amongst young people.

Toby is an ex-employee of Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) Galway and attended the DEC Reunion that was held in DERI last February.

Alcatel-Lucent’s R&D element is the New Jersey-based Bell Laboratories whose proud ancestry goes back to Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone who founded a research centre to focus on the analysis, recording and transmission of sound.

Bell Laboratories was one of the greatest communications research facilities of modern times, developing a wide range of revolutionary technologies that have helped change the world including the transistor, the laser, solar cell battery, synchronous sound motion pictures, the UNIX operating system, C & C++ programming languages. 7 Nobel Prizes were awarded for work at Bell Laboratories.

The corporate’s Blanchardstown plant has a museum that exhibits many of these inventions including a replica of the first telephone (1876),

a 1915 air-to-ground two way voice radio communications apparatus (consisting of a leather pilot helmet with built-in radio receiver and a microphone)

a 1923 Loop Antenna (Western Electric engineers used a similar device to send the first transatlantic telephone signal 1915);

an early fax tele-photograph machine (1925)

a 1926 Vitaphone record and project system (first talking movie).

Telstar model (somewhat smaller than the original) with Toby Joyce

My favourite artifact was the tiny solar-powered Telstar (first communications satellite) to relay television signals, telephone calls and fax images (1962).

There was also a fine collection of early telephones including a 1926 telephone switchboard contained in a beautiful carved wooden cabinet. The unit was from Newbliss County Monaghan and had only 3 customers (Garda Siochana, Post Office and Tyrone Guthrie) when it was installed was operated non-stop for 60years by one man Patrick McCabe. When it was replaced by an automatic service Patrick was made redundant at the ripe old age of 90years!

No comments: