Save hefty Dr Who and Bond girl 'Flossie', pleads vintage computer man
5-ton ICT1301 boasts 1 MHz clock speed, 2kB RAM
Engineer and vintage computer enthusiast Ron Brown is struggling to save Flossie, one of the world's oldest working computer mainframes and a bonafide movie star, from extinction.
The '60s era ICT 1301, which was a prominent feature in Scaramanga's lair in Bond film The Man With The Golden Gun, is currently being housed in a barn in Kent, after a nine-year restoration project. But the barn is located on a farm that's now up for sale, threatening Flossie's future, Kent News reported.
The mainframe was restored by Brown along with fellow engineer Roger Holmes. Brown is now trying to find a home for Flossie.
"I would love the Science Museum to take her, or perhaps even Bletchley Park,” he said.
The National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park, which houses exhibits like the Colossus, told The Register that there were some logistical issues to be fixed before it could offer help to Flossie.
“The National Museum of Computing warmly congratulates the restorers who have conserved Flossie," TNMOC said. "In principle, TNMOC would be interested in hosting Flossie if it were to be offered, but in practice there are resource and space constraints which would need to be resolved.”
Originally built in 1962, when it would have cost a whopping £250,000 - equivalent to millions today - the computer is the last of the 150 or so ICT mainframes that survive and it's also the first one that was ever built.
Flossie has just 2kB of memory and a processor running at 1Mhz speed. She takes up 25 square feet of space and weighs five tons. The computer's data is kept on 27 reels of magnetic tape and 100,000 punch cards.
Brown and Holmes restored the mainframe to full working order after buying it for £200 in the 1970s.
As well as appearing in Bond movies, the computer also starred in episodes of Doctor Who and Blake's 7. ®
Re: Fun and historically interesting as it is
They are, of course, not actually trying to keep *everything*. But "one of each" would be sort of nice, especially since in this case we only have one of this "each" to keep...
Re: Fun and historically interesting as it is
"It's just an old computer that was in a not-well-remembered Bond film and a few old sci-fi TV shows. It has no historical significance whatsoever. Why care?"
It has more historical significance than the average El Reg commentard and I wouldn't like to be abandoned in a farm shed.
Why save it?!?
Why save this computer? Why would we save anything? Why save paintings, old potsherds from archeological sites, trophies from old games played decades ago, pictures from the 1900s, 78 RPM records (or old cylinder records for that matter), antique cars, boomerangs, spears, arrows, swords, cannons, baskets, houses in the Swiss Alps, the Spirit Of St Louis, the Spruce Goose, the Glamorous Glennis, the Enola Gay, the Queen Mary, the Eiffel Tower, Tower of London, the Great Wall of China, they Pyramids on Giza plateau, the Forbidden City in Beijing, Roman breastplates, amphorae, the Antikylera Mechanism, a bit of melted glass-like ground from the Trinity site, the stuffed pelt of the MGM Lion (saved in an attic in McPherson, Kansas), the Vasa from Sweden's seas, old sardine tins from a century ago, covered wagons from two centuries ago, steam locomotives, silent movies, signs from roads and inns and gas (petrol) stations that no longer exist, memorials on ancient battlefields and grave sites, books (and stone tablets and dried clay tablets) from people who died anywhere from decades to thousands of years ago and millions of other artifacts from humans around the globe? Why save any of that?!?
Because, you moron, without knowing where we came from we cannot know where we are going. Because reflections from the past illuminate our present and, in so doing, our future. Because we can easily forget that, even though some ideas are old, it does not make them any less ingenious or, in fact, *relevant*.
Do we need to save the eggshells from this morning's breakfast? Probably not. A computer from the 60's? *DEFINITELY*!
From this article: "She takes up 25 square feet of space and weighs five tons."
From the restorer and current owner: "It weighs five tons, occupies 700 square feet and uses 13kVA of three phase electricity."
I wonder which of them is right?
Just a guess...
but perhaps the article should read "25 feet square"?
That would make it 625 square feet, within spitting distance of the 700 square feet figure from the current owner.