Thursday, November 22, 2012

Old functioning digital computer restored

Yeah, that’s a computer. The world’s oldest functioning digital computer, in fact, which has now been restored after three years of hard work. I hope it was worth it.

It was made in 1949, and weighed a massive two and a half tonnes. It was slow, even back then, being out-paced by other smaller computers. For example, it would take multiplying two numbers a good ten seconds. But it was reliable and was at the heart of Britain’s atomic energy research programme. Even back then, technology got old really fast, and when the Witch was no longer needed, it was donated to the Wolverhampton University. It got its nickname, Witch, from there. The full form of it is ‘Wolverhampton Instrument for Teaching Computation from Harwell’.

In 1997, it became a museum piece and was put into storage, and got promptly lost. But luckily, in 2009 the Computer Conservation Society (yes, there is one for that) found it and quickly began restoring the age-old computer. And it still works! It is now on display the Bletchley Park.

I wonder if the same would be done for the iPhone? But oh wait, iTunes might not support it.

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