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A Vision Splendid - The History Of Australian Computing


Welcome to this history of technology in Australia. The Australian Computer Society has commissioned this timely book, which is more than a history of the ACS. It is a story about the evolution of our industry, and the important role of ACS within it.

Technology in Australia has many facets – academic, government, private industry, society and the many individuals within those sectors. In the 21st century, information and communications technologies are all around us. But it also has an important history, one that, until now, has never been told. Many of our early pioneers and innovators were ACS members who made important contributions to major technological advances.

The ACS began life in 1966 as an amalgamation of existing state computer societies. Since then it has grown to become one of Australia’s premier professional bodies, at the forefront of issues such as accreditation and professional development. The ACS has been an integral part of Australia’s growth as a digital economy, and will continue to play a major role as the industry and technology evolve.

Life in Australia is very different now than it was when Trevor Pearcey first turned on his CSIR Mark 1 in 1947. It is impossible to catalogue how much it has changed and the huge role information technology has played, but this book goes a long way towards explaining it. A Vision Splendid: The History of Australian Computing is a book that needed to be written.

It was researched and written by Graeme Philipson, a leading Australian computer journalist and computer historian. Graeme has brought to life many of the people and events that have shaped computing in Australia. We thank him for his efforts and we thank those who have assisted him. In particular, I’d like to acknowledge the work of the ACS Heritage Committee, which includes Michael Hawkins (Chair), Graeme Philipson, Dr Peter Thorne FACS, Nick Tate FACS and Dr Arthur Tatnall FACS. They were ably supported by ACS Heritage agents: Peter Outtridge; Helen McHugh; Jacky Hartnett; Peter Griffith; Martin Lack; and SUSn Bandias, along with many other ACS members who shared stories, pictures and other information.

The ACS is proud to have commissioned this book. But it is a story that will never end, and in a sense the project will never be finished. We invite anybody with the knowledge of historical events in the industry to share their recollections and insights. We intend this book to be a living document; it will grow and evolve as more people add to it.

The book itself is only one part of the ACS’s ongoing Heritage project. We are collecting textual and audio reminiscences, important historical documents, images and any other material relevant to Australia’s computing history. It is important that future generations have access to this material and understand the beginnings and subsequent development of technology in Australia.

As this book shows, Australia has a proud technology heritage. As the ACS enters its second half-century, “A Vision Splendid” is an opportunity to reflect on our many achievements to date and to look forward to what we will achieve together in the future.