In 1973, C.H.C. Matthews of the Department of Electrical Engineering, Edinburgh University, rescued from an Edinburgh dustbin an old Ekco wireless set, which over thirty years previously he had helped to design.
Lovingly restored and displayed in the Department's Radio Lab, it formed the nucleus of his Wireless Collection, which was to develop into the Museum of Communication - a vast treasure house of communication related artefacts.
The display of restored equipment in the University grew rapidly and eventually filled two Crush Halls and the large glass display cases that had originally housed the Burke and Hare exhibits!
As the Museum's reputation grew, requests for information and for the loan of artefacts started to pour in. Many museum displays, lectures and study groups throughout the UK have benefited from the Collection.
In 1989, a delegation of Chinese museum officials visited the Museum display and presented Harry Matthews with an award. During their fact-finding tour of museums in the UK, only the Science Museum in London received a similar award. Some time later, the gift of a Chinese Abacus was received from them, with the recommendation that we start to collect computer equipment.
By the mid-80's, storage was becoming a major problem. It was temporarily solved in 1987, with the offer of storage and future permanent exhibition space in Bo'ness, about 20 miles west of Edinburgh. An ambitious scheme to develop Bo'ness as a Heritage Centre was planned and the Museum was invited to take part in this venture. Sadly, the plans failed to materialise and when tenure of the Bo'ness Heritage Trust premises expired in 1994, the Museum was once more without a home.
The Museum exhibited throughout its 7 year stay in Bo'ness - initially with small, short displays in the local library. The success of these led to bigger, long-term themed exhibitions, organised by the Friends of Bo'ness Heritage in the Heritage Trust premises.
The need of a support group with specialised skills became apparent during the first major exhibition in Bo'ness, when the full impact and potential of the Museum was made obvious by the reaction of visitors. Open at weekends for a total of 200 hours, the exhibition attracted well over two thousand people. It seemed to provide something for everyone: children were intrigued by the clattering Strowger telephone exchange; elderly ladies pounded the keys of elderly typewriters; war veterans re-lived their experiences and young people were amazed by wind-up gramophones and crystal sets!
Requests for information, offers of help, donation of artefacts and the small but constant repairs all contributed to the need to set up an organisation to oversee the running of the Museum and safeguard the Collection. Therefore, the Museum of Communication Foundation Trust was established in January 1992.