The Heritage Project

Celebrating the story of Australian Computing through the digital age.


The History of ICT in Australia is a broad and exciting project to create an important piece of our national heritage.

The Pearcey Foundation has commissioned a new history of the Australian computer industry. The book is the first phase in the Foundation’s major ICT industry Heritage Program, which will also incorporate oral histories and the collection of documents and artefacts about Australia’s long and significant role in the history of information technology.

Contributions welcome!

  • ICT stories
  • Collections and artifacts
  • Sponsorship

Please contact us.

From Pearcey to Quantum Computing

The Story of Australian Computing Through the Digital Age

The Project

Phase 1 - Book of Australian ICT Heritage

The Pearcey Foundation has commissioned a new history of the Australian computer industry. The book, now well underway, will incorporate oral histories and the collection of documents and artefacts about Australia’s long and significant role in the history of information technology.

The Pearcey Foundation will encourage, and where possible participate in (currently in progress with the University of Sydney), the gathering of oral histories and biographies and the identification and cataloguing of significant objects and documents held by organisations or individuals.

Phase 2 - Virtual Museum of Australian ICT Heritage

Like the Charles Babbage Institute at the University of Minnesota, this virtual museum will provide a single access point or “one stop shop” which links to the many and varied collections and archives across Australia, which record our journey in the digital age.

The Pearcey Foundation will establish and maintain an on-line repository of oral histories, biographies, images and digitised documents with linkages to other physical and virtual collections across Australia.

The Book

The book concentrates on the people who made computing in Australia what it is, including biographies of the almost 60 industry figures who have been awarded Pearcey Medals or inducted to the Pearcey Hall of Fame since these awards were instituted in 1998.

The story starts with Trevor Pearcey in the late 1940s when he designed CSIRAC, only the fourth stored program digital computer in the world. The 70 years since then span a human lifetime and encompass the achievements of an outstanding group of people. The book will be a lasting contribution to the remarkable heritage of the Australian ICT industry and the many achievements of the people who made it happen.

The book is being compiled from original sources and interviews with surviving industry pioneers. Many of these stories have never been told. The material collected for the book – interviews, documents, pictures and more – will all be included in the program archive, fully indexed and accessible by all. It will be an important contribution to a greater understanding of Australia’s important computing heritage, and an invaluable resource to future researchers.

The book was initially conceived and researched by Graeme Philipson, one of Australia’s leading computer journalists and industry historians. However, Graeme was taken from us all in early 2021 in a tragic accident - see Vale Graeme Philipson.

The Editorial Advisory Group

The project will be overseen by a distinguished editorial advisory group, drawn from all parts of the industry across Australia.

Led by respected ICT academic, Peter Thorne AM, the role of this advisory will be to monitor project milestones, advise the author, suggest sources, and ensure thorough coverage of people and events.


  • Barbara Ainsworth - Historian and Curator of the Monash University Museum of Computing History (VIC)
  • Susan Bandias - Academic with special interest in community engagement and social implications of ICT (NT)
  • Matthew Connell - Principal Curator Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (PowerHouse Museum, NSW)
  • Jacky Hartnett - Academic and long-time contributor to the ICT community (TAS)
  • Michael Hawkins - Experienced ICT professional in both the private and public sector and contributor to the ICT community (ACT)
  • Martin Lack - Experienced ICT professional and long term organiser and coordinator across the ICT sectors (QLD)
  • Helen Meredith - Industry observer, veteran computer journalist and commentator (QLD)
  • Carolyn Rasmussen - Academic and award winning historian, contributor to Australian Dictionary of Biography (VIC)
  • Len Rust - Pearcey Foundation Committee Member and long-time industry analyst, consultant and writer (NSW)
  • Peter Thorne - Pearcey Foundation Committee Member, ICT academic who worked on CSIRAC (VIC)
  • Arnold Wong - Experienced ICT professional in both the private and public sector and contributor to the ICT community (WA)

Content Outline

The Early Years

  • Trevor Pearcey and the CSIR Mark 1
  • When computers had names
  • Commercial computing in the 1950s
  • Early users in Government and Academia

Australia Gets a Computer Industry– The 1960s

    • Control Data and Australia’s biggest computer deal
    • IBM shakes up the industry
    • The other major vendors
    • Computers in Government in the 1960s
    • Societies and Associations

    The Roaring 70s

    • Fujitsu shakes things up
    • The minicomputer revolution Part 1
    • Australian manufacturing
    • IT in Australian Universities in the 1960s and 1970s
    • Software and services
    • The birth of the DBMS

    The PC Revolution

    • The birth of personal computing
    • Australian PC manufacturing
    • PC software and the PC wars
    • The Australian PC market in 1990

    Enterprise Computing in the 1980s and 90s

    • The minicomputer revolution Part 2
    • The evolution of corporate software
    • Australia’s major corporate computer users
    • Computers in Government
    • The end of the mainframe wars
    • IT Journalism and Public Relations

    Australian Software Shows the Way

    • The Australian software industry 1980-2000
    • Australian financial software and ERP suppliers
    • The Australian IT services industry 1980-2000
    • The investment community
    • Academic and research computing

    The Internet and the Comms Revolution

    • Computer communications before the Internet
    • Australian data communications companies
    • The evolution of the Internet
    • Australia invents WiFi
    • From mobile phones to smartphones

    Into the 21st century

    • The rise of search and social media
    • Cloud computing and ubiquitous networking
    • Key technologies
    • Australian software in the 21st century
    • The future of the Australian IT industry

    The Virtual Museum

    The Pearcey Foundation intends to extend the Heritage Project well beyond Phase One (the book) – with the aim to become ‘the’ central repository – hosting a ‘virtual museum’ of Australia’s computing artefacts, documents and oral histories from key players. Your support of the project will contribute to:

    • A curated, dedicated and maintained website to support the project
    • Open forums for discussion and input from the industry
    • A platform for sharing ‘chunks’ of the story as it unfolds
    • Regular blog updates
    • Video interviews and compelling content
    • A network of national and State-based events (online and offline) for connecting and sharing
    • Shared accèss to existing oral histories, images, documents
    • An archive of links to sources publications, papers etc

    Become A Heritage Project Partner

    If you share the Pearcey Foundation’s vision and its efforts to raise awareness of the critical role science, research and commercialisation play in a sustainable and globally competitive Australia, please consider coming on board as a Partner.

    We see the book and virtual museum as the vanguard of a longer-term history project, providing an Australian equivalent of the Charles Babbage Institute at the University of Minnesota.

    The enthusiasm and offers of collaboration towards the project, so far, have indeed been reassuring, along with some early sponsorship contributions received. However, we will need significantly more funding to complete the book and to develop this project into an enduring national resource.

    We would greatly appreciate you and/or your organisation considering partnering with us on this important venture – and encourage you to review Sponsorship Prospectus here.

    Donations towards the Project are also very much appreciated and welcomed!

    You can Sponsor or Donate by contacting Wayne Fitzsimmons (0418 382 625) or Carolyn Todd (0416 078 421) directly to discuss.

    Get Involved

    Join our mailing list

    Help us tell our stories to inspire the next generation
    Document achievements of organisations and individuals
    Build an archive to acknowledge Australia’s contribution to the digital age
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