History of Electrical Engineering on the Web

One of the highlight’s of yesterday’s [History of Computing Collection launch](http://crispyj2.blogspot.com/2008/05/history-of-computing-collection-launch.html) was Steve William’s presentation of the history of the University’s web site which he gathered from the *Way Back Machine* at the [Internet Archive](http://web.archive.org/). As I developed the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering’s web site from 1996 through to around 2006 I thought I’d visit the Way Back Machine to look at how that web site [http://www-ee.swan.ac.uk/](http://web.archive.org/web/*sa_/http://www-ee.swan.ac.uk/) developed. I will probably have to write down the technical details one day, but for now, here are the key development stages:

– [![](http://3.bp.blogspot.com/__bnNGgqRugY/SDaIJVrlcOI/AAAAAAAACFI/XlRHXDKvue4/s200/1996.png)](http://3.bp.blogspot.com/__bnNGgqRugY/SDaIJVrlcOI/AAAAAAAACFI/XlRHXDKvue4/s1600-h/1996.png)
In [January 1998](http://web.archive.org/web/19980124214618/http://www-ee.swan.ac.uk/index.html) the site looked like this. You’ll possibly note that the home page isn’t even about the department! Instead it contains a link to the [actual home page](http://web.archive.org/web/19990220180852/www-ee.swan.ac.uk/DeptEEE/). [![](http://3.bp.blogspot.com/__bnNGgqRugY/SDaJKVrlcPI/AAAAAAAACFQ/mxTonpXRrV0/s200/1996-home.png)](http://3.bp.blogspot.com/__bnNGgqRugY/SDaJKVrlcPI/AAAAAAAACFQ/mxTonpXRrV0/s1600-h/1996-home.png) I clearly didn’t know much about Information Architecture then. However to ensure that the site was consistently formatted, I *was* using a templating tool called HTP (which is still [available](http://htp.sourceforge.net/) from sourceforge).
– [![](http://1.bp.blogspot.com/__bnNGgqRugY/SDaJj1rlcQI/AAAAAAAACFY/g8sTpKqXZog/s200/jan-1997-index.png)](http://1.bp.blogspot.com/__bnNGgqRugY/SDaJj1rlcQI/AAAAAAAACFY/g8sTpKqXZog/s1600-h/jan-1997-index.png)In [January 1999](http://web.archive.org/web/19990220180852/www-ee.swan.ac.uk/DeptEEE/) the site was formatted to a corporate style using table layout and had a guestbook!

– By [January 2000](http://web.archive.org/web/20000816224159/www-ee.swan.ac.uk/DeptEEE/) we had style sheets (note that the links turn red [![](http://3.bp.blogspot.com/__bnNGgqRugY/SDaJ3VrlcRI/AAAAAAAACFg/O5Dsu_ivye8/s200/2000.png)](http://3.bp.blogspot.com/__bnNGgqRugY/SDaJ3VrlcRI/AAAAAAAACFg/O5Dsu_ivye8/s1600-h/2000.png)on hover) and custom bullets. The University’s site at this time was using images of text in order to use the Palatino font that the consultants had decided that its corporate branding needed! I was using Times [![](http://3.bp.blogspot.com/__bnNGgqRugY/SDaK7VrlcTI/AAAAAAAACFw/ZCKR9roqA1I/s200/jan-2000-index.png)](http://3.bp.blogspot.com/__bnNGgqRugY/SDaK7VrlcTI/AAAAAAAACFw/ZCKR9roqA1I/s1600-h/jan-2000-index.png)Roman Italic! The three column layout was done with tables.

– From 2000 to 2005 the web site design stayed pretty constant. The only thing that changed behind the scenes were that I moved from HTP to the [Perl Template Toolkit](http://template-toolkit.org/) for the site templating.

– [![](http://4.bp.blogspot.com/__bnNGgqRugY/SDaKQlrlcSI/AAAAAAAACFo/cqt5y5VnhHM/s200/engineering.png)](http://4.bp.blogspot.com/__bnNGgqRugY/SDaKQlrlcSI/AAAAAAAACFo/cqt5y5VnhHM/s1600-h/engineering.png)In 2006, the Department finally turned off www-ee.swan.ac.uk and the [engineering web site](http://www.swan.ac.uk/engineering/) was established. This is run inside the University’s Content Management System (CMS). That site is undergoing a relaunch this summer.

I no longer maintain a large web site, but if I did, I’d use a CMS like [Drupal](http://drupal.org/). For small “vanity sites” or group home pages, I’d recommend using a wiki: my [homepage](http://eehope.swan.ac.uk/~eechris/dokuwiki/index.php) these days is a [Dokuwiki](http://wiki.splitbrain.org/wiki:dokuwiki) wiki.

History of Computing Collection Launch

The British Computer Society (BCS) was founded in 1957 so this is the tail end of its half century celebration year. As part of its local contribution to celebrations, Professor John Tucker took the opportunity of using the Annual General Meeting of the South Wales branch of the BCS to launch his History of Computing Collection (HOCC), which is being developed in conjunction with Library and Information Services (LIS) here at Swansea University. John hopes that this web site (implemented in Open Source CMS Drupal) will develop into a rich archive of the history of computing in, and its impact on, South Wales.

The evening started with an introduction to the HOCC project from Professor Tucker, and was followed by two entertaining talks by welsh IT pioneers Noel Cox and Rod Delamere. The first on the hardware changes seen in large company accountancy since the 1950s, and the second on a programmer’s apprenticeship at Glamorgan College of Technology (now the University of Glamorgan) in the early 1960s. The meeting concluded with an introduction to the HOCC Website itself by its principle developer Steve Williams from LIS.

When the HOCC website launches properly, it is hoped that it will be open for people to record their own recollections of computing. There are certainly plenty of stories to tell: I know a few myself and I’ve been in IT only 29 years! John and colleagues are busy gathering audio testimony from pioneers from the early days, examples of equipment and programs, and other artefacts of computing in Wales which presumably will eventually find their way onto the HOCC site.

On a personal note, the meeting was especially nice in that several retired colleagues from my early days in Electrical Engineering at Swansea turned up and it was great to see them again.

I wish John well on his project and will watch it with interest. Oh, and happy birthday BCS: only two years older than me!