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Oldest Computer Runs Again!

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  • Oldest Computer Runs Again!


    • A panorama view of the world's oldest original working digital computer at The National Museum of Computing. (Robert Dowell)



    One of the world's first digital computers to replace the handwritten calculations of human "computors" is getting an official reboot that could lead to a spot in the Guinness Book of Records.
    The 61-year-old Harwell Dekatron about the size and weight of an SUV was originally hailed as a slow, steady machine capable of delivering error-free calculations while running for 90 hours a week. It has survived to become the oldest original working digital computer following the announcement of its completed restoration by The National Museum of Computing (TNMOC) in the U.K. today (Nov. 20).
    "In 1951, the Harwell Dekatron was one of perhaps a dozen computers in the world, and since then, it has led a charmed life surviving intact while its contemporaries were recycled or destroyed," said Kevin Murrell, a trustee at TNMOC.

    The computer relies on 480 relays that have more in common with telephone exchanges rather than modern PCs or Macs. Such relays sit inside a collection of racks that also hold 828 flashing Dekatron valves gas-filled counting tubes used in the early days of computing rather than the transistors of modern electronics.
    http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2012/11/...ter-restarted/
    Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

  • #2
    Pity Colossus was destroyed in 1945.
    Indyref2 - still, "Yes."

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    • #3
      Originally posted by the ace View Post
      Pity Colossus was destroyed in 1945.
      Yes, it is. I guess at the time it was just an obsolete piece of equipment to those in charge.
      Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

      Comment


      • #4
        Cool! I love these old machines. Especially the comparison to a telephone exchange.

        The other day I was reading in Wired how the worlds first recorded computer hack was from a young MIT Physics researcher in 1962 competing for limited computing time. Each student was only allowed 4 hours, so he simply nosed around until he located and printed the list of passwords, and went on his way.

        Network security has come a long way.......or maybe not.
        One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions - Admiral Grace Hopper

        "The eunuch should not take pride in his chastity."
        Wu Cheng'en Monkey

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        • #5
          Wasn't the "Oldest Computer", Babbage's famous "Difference Engine" which predated this example by over a century ?
          "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
          Samuel Johnson.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by BELGRAVE View Post
            Wasn't the "Oldest Computer", Babbage's famous "Difference Engine" which predated this example by over a century ?
            I think the Babbage Engine was an analogue computer. The computer in the OP is one of the first digital computers.


            Philip
            "The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts." Bertrand Russell

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            • #7
              Originally posted by BELGRAVE View Post
              Wasn't the "Oldest Computer", Babbage's famous "Difference Engine" which predated this example by over a century ?
              Babbage's Difference Engine was only built about 150 years after his death. It worked perfectly, but he died with the prototype incomplete.
              Indyref2 - still, "Yes."

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