Feeds

Bletchley Park boffins start trailblazer EDSAC computer rebuild

First replica parts go into production

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Physical production of a replica of EDSAC, aka the Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator, has at last begun at The National Museum of Computing, located at World War II crypto centre Bletchley Park. EDSAC is an early computer originally put together at Cambridge University in the late 1940s.

The initial work on the replica focused on punching out 20 chassis units based on the three that survive from the original EDSAC’s 140, each home to a selection of the computer’s 3,000-odd thermionic valves. These helped it process up to 650 instructions per second, not many by today’s standards, but two orders of magnitude more than the electromechanical computers that preceded it.

“Over the past year we have researched EDSAC’s design and original construction, so this week marks the exciting transition from research to production,” said Andrew Herbert, the EDSAC reconstruction project lead. “With this important step accomplished we are confident that we can complete the daunting task of replicating EDSAC as it was in 1949."

EDSAC

EDSAC in the 1940s
Source: Cambridge Computer Lab

The machine was designed in 1947 by Maurice Wilkes (1913-2010) after his appointment two years previously as the second director of what was then called the University of Cambridge Mathematical Laboratory. Wilkes’ team took their lead from John von Neumann’s plan for an electronic computer called EDVAC (Electronic Discrete Variable Automatic Computer), itself an evolution of ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer), the machine built by John Mauchly and J. Presper Eckert of the University of Pennsylvania at the behest of the US Army.

EDSAC, which occupied a space 5 x 5 x 2m, ran its first program on 6 May 1949 and was used for the following nine years. . It formed the basis for LEO (Lyons Electronic Office) built for the Lyons food company and widely regarded as the world’s first business computer. In 1958, having been succeeded by EDSAC 2, EDSAC was dismantled.

The goal of the reconstruction project - which was launched two years ago this Friday and is backed by likes of the Computer Conservation Society, Acorn co-founder Hermann Hauser and Google UK - is to have a working replica of EDSAC up and running by March 2015. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
PEAK APPLE: iOS 8 is least popular Cupertino mobile OS in all of HUMAN HISTORY
'Nerd release' finally staggers past 50 per cent adoption
Tim Cook: The classic iPod HAD TO DIE, and this is WHY
Apple, er, couldn’t get parts for HDD models
Apple spent just ONE DOLLAR beefing up the latest iPad Air 2
New iPads look a lot like the old one. There's a reason for that
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
Microsoft fitness bands slapped on wrists: All YOUR HEALTH DATA are BELONG TO US
Wearable will deliver 'actionable insights for healthier living'
Lawyers mobilise angry mob against Apple over alleged 2011 Macbook Pro crapness
We suffered 'random bouts of graphical distortion' - fanbois
Caterham Seven 160 review: The Raspberry Pi of motoring
Back to driving's basics with a joyously legal high
Back to the ... drawing board: 'Hoverboard' will disappoint Marty McFly wannabes
Buzzing board (and some future apps) leave a lot to be desired
prev story

Whitepapers

Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Mitigating web security risk with SSL certificates
Web-based systems are essential tools for running business processes and delivering services to customers.