The TechArchives repository holds hundreds of text files, image files and datasets that document the history of information technology in Ireland. We have catalogued these digital files with comprehensive metadata and, thanks to INEX, stored them on a secure platform for long term preservation.
Some of the material appears elsewhere on this site, but the repository also contains historically significant files from other sources. At present there are four broad groups:
• Computer Collection
• Internet Collection
• Publications Collection
• Software Collection
In the future we hope to add collections on other themes.
Expanding the collections

We are keen to add relevant material to the repository, including files from eras and areas of information technology that are not yet covered by the TechArchives timelines and testimonies. These files can be computer-generated (‘born digital’) or physical.

Please get in touch if you are in a position to donate documents, photographs or illustrations. We are also interested in receiving and storing audio and video files.

In the case of physical items, such as printed publications or photographs, we can arrange to have them scanned at high quality. Or we will supply our standard specifications to donors who prefer to perform the scanning themselves.

Most of the material in the repository has only survived until today because someone retained a copy for personal reasons. These private records are, however, also of public interest. And, as the years go by, it is more and more important to ensure that they are not destroyed or lost.

We are also keen to collaborate with physical museums that collect vintage equipment and other IT artefacts. Our digital file cataloguing and preservation processes will complement their work.

Sharing the collections

Our long-term aim is to make the contents of the repository accessible online. This will, however, require initial and continuing investment.

In the meantime we will assist anyone who is conducting relevant research and wishes to view items in the collections, including the material listed on this page under ‘Highlights’.

Please contact us directly if you would like to discuss this.

Highlights from the collections
The first software code

Programming a BTM 1201 system in 1957 involved computer memory on a rotating magnetic drum, binary punched cards that held programs, decimal cards that contained data and using valve registers to perform arithmetic operations.

Norman Frances from the British Tabulating Machine (BTM) Company employed these technologies to calculate payments due to sugar growers in Ireland. He produced instructions and data for a newly acquired computer in a seed store at the Sugar Company’s beet processing factory in Thurles. This was the first and only computer in the country.

The Sugar Company decided against using the BTM man’s code to process its payments. In subsequent years the firm selected and trained its own programmers. They produced an alternative version of the application and this went live in 1960.

The first software ever seen in Ireland, however, was in the handwritten code sheets that Norman Frances delivered in 1957. The TechArchives repository holds digitised copies of the full set, together with sample forms and a programming guide that explains the structure and terminology of the code sheets’ lines and columns.

Software industry’s back pages

Software developers in Ireland started to package and export applications earlier than their counterparts in most countries. This was not the outcome of any systematic plan. It was the unexpected result of a preference for minicomputers in user installations, the availability of programming skills and the emergence of Irish software product companies with good international connections.

From the start of the 1980s, however, there were many attempts to define and implement a national software policy. A collection of 50 digital and digitised documents in the TechArchives repository charts their twists and turns.

These documents include policy papers from state agencies, submissions to government from industry bodies and professional associations, trade directories and academic publications. Each observes the state of the industry from a different perspective. And they add up to a comprehensive picture of Irish software evolving over 25 years.

The first draft of history

IT’s Monday was one of the first born-digital commercial publications when it appeared in 1992. Customers paid annual fees to receive a weekly news bulletin by email in the same way that they bought software licences for an agreed number of users. There was never a printed edition. This electronic news service delivered hard facts in plain text.

The readers were information technology professionals inside Ireland’s larger computer installations, software industry and network operators, as well as people in the companies that supplied and supported enterprise technologies. At a time of rapid change in products, services and vendor organisations, IT’s Monday covered issues that mattered to this audience: client-server computing, software development and implementation, the rise of the internet, the dawn of mobile information, the supply and demand of IT skills and the births, deaths and marriages of IT businesses.

The repository holds all issues of IT’s Monday from 1992 to 2002, extracted from the published emails and reformatted for long-term preservation.