David Demant

Senior Curator, Information and Communication

David Demant
David Demant
Source: Museum Victoria

David Demant is a History and Technology Curator, with an interest in the history of information and communication technology. David was manager of education and visitor programs at Scienceworks and he participated in the development of Scienceworks and Melbourne Museum.

Background

David has responsibility for the Information and Communication Collection, which covers technologies that are or have been directly involved in communication and/or the processing of information.

He has published a number of books including The First Computer Mouse, a fantasy tale for children (actually for their parents and grandparents). He has written and contributed to a number of informational books for children. He has participated in a number of amateur and professional theatrical productions, has been an extra on Neighbours, and appears regularly on a radio science programme. He is Museum Victoria’s unofficial poet laureate.

David believes that storytelling is the most effective form of communication in museums . . . and everywhere else.

Current activities

The Information and Communication Collection

The Information and Communication Collection is divided into core and peripheral areas. The core covers information and communication networks involving telegraphy, telephony, radio transmission, electronics, and computing and calculating technologies. The peripheral area covers technologies involved in the output and input of information - printing (including typewriting and writing), copying and duplication, playback and recording devices such as video, tape, disk, cylinder and music machines, radios and television.

The pride of the collection is CSIRAC – the first automatic electronic stored-program computer in Australia, and the fourth in the world. CSIRAC is the only surviving intact first-generation computer. The world's first computer music was played on CSIRAC in 1951, as well as some early computer games (1957-1958), the first weather forecast in the Southern Hemisphere (1958) and a program analysing climate change in the Antarctic (1958). CSIRAC began its operational life in November 1949. Its last program was run in 1964 after 700,000 hours of operation with a down time of only 10%.

Exhibitions and public programs

David is currently enhancing records in the Museum collection database to ready them for publication on the web. He is also curating and developing displays at Scienceworks that involve the activation of collection objects.

David facilitates two workshops: Label Writing, and Learning From Objects. He also presents travelling shows for all age groups using collection objects, and a group simulation of the internet without a computer in sight.

David also makes a regular guest on 3RRR Radio's Sunday science show 'Einstein-a-go-go'.

Staff and students

David works with volunteers and research associates in data enhancing the collection records in the following areas: computing, telegraphy, pre-cinema technology, electronics, radio and printing. The most satisfying aspect is uncovering the stories that swirl around the objects in the collection.

Last updated 4 September 2009