Engaging with Communications

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Public Exhibitions

Telecommunications . . . Television . . . Personal Computing . . .

Have you got a mobile phone ? Do you enjoy watching television? Do you use a computer? But do you know how any of the engineering behind all of these things actually works, or how the technology has evolved over the years or indeed, what might the future hold? If you would like to find answers to these questions why not come along to one of our family exhibitions?

Our exhibitions have three main themes. From Semaphore to Smartphone examines telelecommunications; Marvels of television examines television; and Digital Retro examines the personal computer. Each exhibition is family orientated offering a mix of heritage and the latest developments in technology with plenty of hands-on exhibits and demonstrationds from both the University and industry. There is also an opportunity to meet the engineers and researchers who work in these exciting fields or to simply wallow in nostalgia if you prefer!

Our exhibitions are completely free. Spend as little or as long with us as you wish but most of all - come along and have fun!

Next Exhibition

To be announced

We do not currently have any firm dates for our next exhibition but as soon as we do, we’ll post details here.


It would be hard to imagine life today without the mobile phone or the Internet. However, communication wasn't always this easy, so come and see how telecommunications has evolved from semaphore to smartphone. Start by trying to send messages by waving flags at each other.

communications by waving semaphore flags

Or by transmitting your messages along our working telegraph line using the dots and dashes of Morse Code.

working Morse telegraph line

Enjoy using our collection of retro telephones where numbers are dialled using rotary dials instead of push buttons. All of the phones are fully working and wired together allowing you to talk to your friends without the fear of running up a large bill! You can even see how a telephone call is connected by watching our working Strowger exchange.

collection of retro telephones with rotary dials

So many aspects of how we communicate today rely on radio. Whether it is your WiFi Internet connection at home or your mobile phone, they all use radio waves. So come and meet people from the Warrington Amateur Radio Club who can explain how it all works as they communicate from Salford to the rest of the world!

Radio Amateur using radio communications

Meet engineers from Openreach who can explain and demonstrate how the telephone network is wired up and how broadband is delivered to your home.

An Openreach engineer demonstrates how broadband is delivered to your home

Have a look at how the mobile phone has evolved from the brick of the 1980s to today's pocket sized smart phones. Maybe you will spot your first mobile within our collection of handsets or choose to listen to a talk about how mobile phones work.

a collection of mobile phones showing how they have evolved

If you are really lucky you might even get the chance to meet Openreach Ollie who sometimes visits our exhibitions.

Openreach Ollie

Don't forget to say hello if you see him!


Watching television is as popular as ever but today you are increasingly likely to watch your favourite programmes on a tablet or computer rather than a traditional television set. From the first black and white sets, today’s television now offers high definition pictures streamed via the Internet. So come and experience the marvels of television to see how technology has improved and to find out about the latest developments. The University’s state of the art digital and green screen special effects studios will be open for you to find out how computers control what we see. You can even make yourself disappear by using our very own invisibility cloak!

Inside the University of Salford's digital special effects green screen studios

Compare this to the much older colour cameras that were used in the TV studios.

vintage TV colour camera

Find out how the BBC's outside broadcast truck is able to transmit TV pictures back to the studio from virtually any location

BBC Manchester's outside broadcast truck

Meet the engineers who are responsible for operating these trucks and who can demonstrate how they work!

BBC engineer demonstrating how to operate the control console in an outside broadcast truck

If you are lucky you might also get to see the iconic and unique CMCR9 North 3 vintage outside broadcast truck that has been lovingly restored and is demonstrated by an enthusiastic group of knowledgeable volunteers.

Vintage outside broadcast truck North 3 Control desk inside North 3

Meet software engineers working for the BBC who are responsible for the latest developments in BBC iplayer and the Red Button services and see what may soon become available on our Smart TVs, tablets and phones.

Software engineers from the BBC demonstrating the latest developments in BBC iplayer and Red Button services

Experience the latest in ultra high definition (4K) television that offers four times the resolution of today's high definition (HD) televisions. You'll be amazed at the picture quality.

Ultra high definition (4K) television

Whatever your interest in television there will be plenty to see and discuss with the engineers who make it all possible.

Personal Computing

Today our homes contain several computers including PCs, laptops, tablets and smart phones. However, it was in the 1980s when the home computer revolution truly began and we got our hands on machines built by companies such as Sinclair, Commodore, Amstrad, Acorn and Dragon.

people enjoying using our retro computers

Do you remember those days? If so, you'll love our digital retro exhibition and if you are too young to have experienced these machines the first time around, you'll really enjoy playing all of the retro games. Or better still why not write your very own computer program using the Commodore PET.

Commodore PET

The Sinclair Spectrum and its many variants was one of the most popular home computers of the 1980s. Have a go at playing classic games such as Hungry Horace.

ZX Spectrum +2 with Hungry Horace game

Or maybe you had one of thse, the Dragon 32 home computer made in Wales.

Dragon 32 home computer

Maybe your first encounter with a computer was at school and if that was the case, this BBC Micro could have been the machine you used. It was built by Acorn and was accompanied by a very popular series of BBC television programmes that took you through the first basic steps of learning how to write a program and use software applications.

BBC Micro

If you are a whizz at playing coomputer games then you really ought to try your hand at our high score challenge! Who can gain the highest score in a fixed amount of time. We vary the game used and never reveal it in advance so that you can't cheat by practising at home.

people playing retro games

Contrast these early machines with what you now have in your home and compare them to the latest developments such as the Raspberry Pi. Modern devices like the Raspberry Pi will also be on show so that you can find out more about their features and what they can be used for.

People enjoying using our retro computers

If you tire of using the computers do have a look at our displays of computer disks that illustrate how storage capacity has improved. Also take a look at the collection of modems that show how computers were first connected to the telephone line and how we accessed the web before the advent of broadband.


Each exhibition that we organise is highly dependent on the availability of exhibitors, equipment and facilities. Whilst every effort is made to ensure that all of the above will be available at our next exhibition, we cannot obviously guarantee that it will be. What we can guarantee though is an entertaining, informative and engagaging exhibition! So, do please come along and enjoy what is on offer.

You can also watch these videos of our exhibitions (most recent first) to get a flavour of what we offer

We also participated in the Avoncroft Calling family day held on Sunday 12th April 2015.

Please keep checking this page for updates about when our next public exhibition will be held.