Sunday, 27 February 2011
Staring with Egyptian hieroglyphics which are both beautiful and practical. The first full sentence in hieroglyphs was discovered on a seal of the second dynasty tomb of Seth-Peribsen. Always a difficult period to date objects as there was a lot of upheaval but it would be sometime between 2890 and 2686BC. Seth-Peribsen's stele is on display in the British Museum which leads neatly to the second illustration of scholars in the British Museum's reading room. Started in 1753 the British Museum founded the library at the same time. Now it is part of the British Library where every book and periodical published has to be deposited. In 2004 they started to capture and preserve selected website so in their words "there would not be a digital black hole" in the nation's memory. At present due to copyright restrictions the library is able to capture only 1% of on-line content. But they are also digitising and putting on the web some of their treasures such as Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales" printed by William Caxton's printing press. How amazed would Caxton be to see you can just press the print button on a computer to copy off one of his pages (introduction page here)
Lastly is a man working on a computer but as this was 1982 we are a long way from today's sophistication. In 1981 IBM announced their first personal computer running the MS-DOS system. Which happens to be the first computer that I ever used when working in a small industrial library. It stood in glorious isolation on its own desk. The next computer I used was an Apple Macintosh and by that time everyone had a computer on their desks. In 1982 Apple was the first computer manufacturer to hit $1B annual sales and Steve Jobs made his first appearance on the cover of Time Magazine.