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July 6, 1987

READING TO GET A COMPUTER INDUSTRY SHOWCASE, MUSEUM

By CBR Staff Writer

Plans were announced yesterday for a national computer, communications and technology educational showplace and visitor attraction in Reading, Berkshire. The centre, still at the planning stages, is a joint venture between the Science Museum and major technology companies including DEC and ICL that have bases in the Reading area, and the aim is to enhance public understanding using detailed information. Yesterday’s announcement coincided with an application for planning permission but the organisers are aiming for a 1992 completion date. Phase I of the project includes a new computer gallery at the Science Museum, replacing the old one which opened in 1975 and, says the museum, pre-dates microcomputers by two years. It should be finished by 1991. The Reading base, Phase II, is designed to complement London’s Science Museum and to provide an enjoyable day out for anyone from the computer-nave and frightened to the literate or specialist. To overcome the problem of appealing to everyone in a limited space, the museum says the new centre will be object based with little text, what there is apparently being easily understandable. At key points in the exhibition, information delivery systems and other bits of high-tech jargon will be available to provide further facts if required. Various companies have offered their support whether financial, moral or in the shape of equipment and ICL and British Telecom have donated some of their private collections to the project. An estimate of 300,000 visitors are forecast in the first year although the museum says this a conservative figure. The combined projects are to cost UKP20m but as yet a design has not been settled for the complex. The brief is that it should include restaurants and a hotel and be instantly recognisable. A decision will be reached in three or four months.

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