Győző wins in Szeged now

István Alföldi

No day goes by without recalling the memory of Győző Kovács, the legendary one-time General Secretary of the John von Neumann Computer Society (NJSZT), which celebrates its 50th jubilee this year. It is not only his gestures or witty stories that are recalled but his commitment to the popularization of scientific knowledge also pervades our everyday activities. As a tribute, an exhibition entitled Győző (Victor)’s Victory was organized and presented at the Zipernowsky Galéria in Budapest, and the exhibition was moved to Szeged on 2 May to be shown alongside NJSZT’s permanent exhibition on IT history, entitled The Past of the Future.

The title of the exhibition, Győző’s Victory indicates that initiatives such as the protection of IT heritage, which were started by Győző Kovács, have come to fruition by now. The exhibition was opened by NJSZT’s Managing Director, István Alföldi, Győző’s colleague and „companion-in-arms”. In his opening speech, Alföldi recalled the 1970s when Győző Kovács and Dániel Muszka had decided to preserve relics from IT history. After many years of struggling, one of the world’s most significant IT collections was created and a permanent exhibition was organized. The chamber exhibition on the lifetime activities of Győző Kovács is presented alongside this permanent exhibition.

Győző Kovács headed NJSZT between 1975 and 1985, in a period that was important for NJSZT and the entire Hungarian society alike. Győző Kovács was committed to raising the interest in computer science: he was a media star and the face of computer science, to use today’s terminology. His popularity enabled him to get masses of people acquainted with the home computer, distant learning or the microcomputer chess playing machine.

The exhibits in the showcases present his activities and the extraordinary international network Győző Kovács had developed. And as István Alföldi has said, it takes just a couple of steps in the permanent exhibition to enter the Neumann memorial room, where original documents that belonged to John von Neumann are on display. These documents were brought back to Hungary by Győző Kovács.

The Kovács family at the opening of the exhibiton

The opening event of the exhibition Győző’s Victory was attended by the widow of Győző Kovács, his daughter and grandchild as well as friends and colleagues, and the representatives of the press. In an interview by the Szeged TV, Mrs. Kovács recalled the time when she and her husband worked together on the first Hungarian computer, the M-3, built between 1957–1959.

The remaining relics of the M-3 are already on display at NJSZT’s permanent exhibition on IT history, The Past of the Future, and the chamber exhibition offers further supplementary documents to this collection.

The chamber exhibition Győző’s Victory can be viewed in Szeged until September. NJSZT would be delighted to present the exhibition in other venues as well.