Today, you are just as likely to see a laptop or tablet perched next to a soya latte in a coffee shop down the Cowley Road as you are a drunk student. But this hasn’t always been the case. Oxford University first owned a computer in 1952 when Charles Coulson (the mathematician responsible for the quantum theory of valency, for all you theoretical chemists out there) was appointed Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics and Fellow of Wadham College. The university’s first computing lab opened in 1957 and was one of the foremost computing science departments in the world.
In terms of our own computing history, Daily Info was the city’s first internet café, before such places were a known thing. We also had a website before Oxford University did (around the same time as the BBC’s first website). If this seems surprising for an institution at the forefront of the world’s academic development, then perhaps you will be even more surprised to hear that many Oxford laboratories still run computers with floppy disk drives! But then again the principal designer of the Mark I, Howard Aiken of Harvard, estimated in 1947 that just six electronic digital computers would be sufficient to satisfy the computing needs of the entire USA, so maybe they're not too behind the times.
In 2001, the Oxford Internet Institute was founded to research the social implications of the internet. Based on St Giles, the Institute offers graduate study on programmes such as the Social Science of the Internet. A number of other computing institutions are based in Oxfordshire, such as: Sophos in Abingdon, which creates antivirus solutions; Natural Motion, a company that took an unexpected turn from its roots in the Department of Zoology to secure a contract with Rockstar Games, the creators of the successful games series, Grand Theft Auto; Atlas Computer Laboratory, who are based just outside Didcot, created the CGI for Alien; and games developer, Rebellion, who are based in Osney Mead.