World’s oldest original working digital computer rebooted (Video)

Filed in Computer, Hardware, News, Technology by on November 22, 2012 0 Comments

Harwell Dekatron’s clip of the Wolverhampton Instrument for Teaching Computation (WITCH), 1950s’ supercomputer, was restored over a period of three years by experts at England’s National Museum of Computing in Bletchley Park. They even rebooted the beast in front of reporters.

The world’s oldest original working digital computer is the size of a garage door and resembles something from a campy science-fiction flick about Martian invaders. True its functionality is rather modest by today’s standards (it can multiply two numbers in less than 10 seconds, for example), but darned if it isn’t impressive to watch. Lights blink, tubes whir and switches flicker.

The world's oldest original working digital computer rebooted

Screenshot: YouTube

The computer weighs about two and a half tons and comes from a time when there were really just a handful of supercomputers in the world. Restoration expert Kevin Morrell said that the machine was built at Harwell, which is the U.K.’s atomic energy research establishment. He added that the computer was built to take the tedious but necessary work of performing calculations away from the mathematicians and let them think about the big picture. The WITCH wasn’t fast, but it was accurate. And when one is dealing with anything atomic, accuracy is kind of important.

The world’s oldest original working digital computer rebooted.

Video Credit: YouTube/tnmoc



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