Inventions That Changed the World – The Computer (repeated, I think, last night on BBC2)
A show that has Jeremy Clarkson talking to Kevin ‘Cyborg’ Warwick? How awful can it get? At one point I was charitable enough to think Clarkson was going to rubbish this walking science PR disaster, but he just let him gibber on. Apparently nobody can turn off the internet, and this might be worrying. Similarly, I can not go around the entire country turning off everyone’s television, and that worries ME when there are shows like this.

To his credit, Clarkson (or the show’s writer) did big up Tommy Flowers, the guy who actually built Colossus from Turing’s plans, and he’s right – perhaps Flowers doesn’t get the due recognition that Turing gets. Unfortunately his justification for concentrating on Flowers was that “anyone can have ideas, i’ve just thought of a flying car that travels at MACH4, but it would be a genius who can make it”. Yes, Jeremy, you’ve really thought that through too, I can tell. You suspect of course the real reason Flowers is the focus of conversation is that he hasn’t been featured on a TV doc before and we must have USPs to sell. Also Turing was a big gay. <seinfeld>Not that there’s anything wrong with that</seinfeld>

I did learn one thing from the show though, from the low-key demonstration of the ElectroMagnetic Pulse (EMP). It’s something we’ve heard about, and (as the show mentions) started to see portrayed in films, but that I for one have never seen. They stuck a PC in a room and generated a massive EMP. The screen went crazy and eventually seemed to just switch off. When switched back on the machine wasn’t totally dead, just stuck at the BIOS boot – suggesting that the processor itself was probably OK (or it would have been total garbage?), but perhaps somewhere in a ROM program a bit had flipped. Not quite the catastrophe I was hoping for. Which puts my planned Warwick-baiting prank on hold for a little longer.