SmartBar goes back to the future

16 April, 2013

Trevor Pearcey standing operating CSIRAC
Trevor Pearcey standing operating CSIRAC
Source: Museum Victoria

Past and future technologies collide at Melbourne Museum’s next popular adults-only evening event SmartBar on Thursday 2 May.

Visitors to the latest SmartBar will be able to indulge in retro technologies, vintage machines, the future of 3D printing and the origins of electronic music. Based on retro futurism - depictions of the future from decades ago characterised by retro styles and futuristic technology - SmartBar will present Museum Victoria’s history and technology experts exploring the machines and technologies in the collection.

SmartBar is the perfect evening event to recharge your batteries after a busy day,” said Georgie Meyer, Public Programs Manager, Melbourne Museum. “There is a huge amount of technology available to everyone today, and our visitors will get an insight into the origins of some technologies and how much they have developed to the present day.”

The spotlight will be on one of Museum Victoria’s most significant collection items - the first modern computer in Australia and the fourth in the world. Designed and built in Australia, CSIRAC (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation Automatic Computer) made its first successful test run in November 1949, just 18 months after the world’s first modern computer (the Manchester ‘Baby’).

“CSIRAC is an icon of the digital age and the only intact first-generation computer surviving anywhere in the world,” said David Demant, Senior Curator of Information and Communication at Museum Victoria. “Like all the first generation computers, CSIRAC contained in embryonic form all the possibilities that we have seen realised in subsequent computer technologies right up to today.”

Equally important to these technologies were the people behind them. One of CSIRAC’s two principal designers, Trevor Pearcey, had the foresight to predict what we now call the Internet in 1948, before any modern computer had been test run: “It is not inconceivable that an automatic encyclopaedic service operated through the national teleprinter or telephone system, will one day exist.”

Other spot-talks and activities will explore:

  • The music of CSIRAC - it was the first computer in the world to have programmed music.
  • The future as seen from the past - revealing insights into politics, society and technology of yesteryear.
  • The first calculator and a glimpse into Museum Victoria’s machine collection.
  • The latest in 3D printing technology.


Now in its second year, SmartBar is an exciting new addition to Melbourne nightlife and forms part of a growing range of adult programs presented at Melbourne Museum.

Food and drinks will be available for purchase on the night.

SmartBar at Melbourne Museum
Date: Thursday 2 May 2013
Time: 6pm –9.30pm
Cost: Adults $18, concession $16 (adults 18+ only)

To purchase tickets visit http://museumvictoria.com.au/smartbar or phone 13 11 02.
To avoid the queue, buy online, print and bring your ticket with you.

For further information follow Melbourne Museum on Facebook | Twitter @melbournemuseum #SmartBar

For further media information, interviews or images, please contact:
Amanda Linardon on 03 8341 7726, 0400 130 307 or alinardon@museum.vic.gov.au