Posts Tagged 'The Witch'

World’s Oldest Digital Computer Is Once Again Running

According to BBC –

The world’s oldest original working digital computer is going on display at The National Museum of Computing in Buckinghamshire. The Witch, as the machine is known, has been restored to clattering and flashing life in a three-year effort. In its heyday in the 1950s the machine was the workhorse of the UK’s atomic energy research programme. A happy accident led to its discovery in a municipal storeroom where it had languished for 15 years. The machine will make its official public debut at a special ceremony at The National Museum of Computing (TNMOC) in Bletchley Park on 20 November. Attending the unveiling will be some of its creators as well as staff that used it and students who cut their programming teeth on the machine. Design and construction work on the machine began in 1949 and it was built to aid scientists working at the UK’s Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell in Oxfordshire. The 2.5 tonne machine was created to ease the burden on scientists by doing electronically the calculations that previously were done using adding machines. The machine first ran in 1951 and was known as the Harwell Dekatron – so named for the valves it used as a memory store. Although slow – the machine took up to 10 seconds to multiply two numbers – it proved very reliable and often cranked up 80 hours of running time in a week.

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