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Structural engineers were one of the first construction industry professionals to make use of the computer. It was in the late 1950s they first attempted equation solution. It took until the early ‘60s to build up demand to a level that prompted purchase of inhouse facilities. At first there were terminals to bureaus. Then, small stand-alone computers with paper tape input and output. The output tape was fed through a teletype to produce a hard copy. Minicomputers came into existence in the late ’60s. These machines were capable of expansion to accommodate extra ports for the connection of dumb terminals. After the large engineering timesharing computers came the era of the engineering Workstation - self-contained, powerful systems with good graphics capabilities. D.H. Taffs
Although we are celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Charter being granted to the Institution, it should be remembered that the Institution started much earlier, with the formation of the Concrete Institute and the first meeting of its Council in the Smoking Room of the Ritz Hotel in July 1908. The years around the turn of the century were significant for the introduction of new materials and technologies into general UK practice, particularly reinforced concrete and steel frame buildings. It was entirely appropriate that a specialist body should be formed to meet the needs of those interested and involved in using these new methods and not surprising that the professional exchange should develop into a body for structural engineering as a whole. This came in 1922 when the Council of the Institute resolved to change the name to the Institution of Structural Engineers, with the first Council and Officers of the new-named body taking office in 1923 when the total membership was 1330.
The great structures I shall be discussing have been largely the works of famous engineers, but the first and most popular of all was the work of a gardener's boy on the Duke of Devonshire's estate. The Great Exhibition of 1851, inspired by the Prince Consort, was housed in the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park. This was a huge conservatory designed by Joseph Paxton, and based on an earlier one he had built at Chatsworth for the Duke of Devonshire. The Crystal Palace was 1850 ft long (three times the length of St Paul's Cathedral) and, after being opened by Queen Victoria in 1854, was visited by 6 M people in the next 24 weeks! It was then transferred to a fine site on a hill at Sydenham in south London, where it remained in good use until it was destroyed by fire in 1936. Thus was created and lost a fairy palace for the people. Professor Sir Alfred Pugsley