Feeds

Bletchley Park boffins start trailblazer EDSAC computer rebuild

First replica parts go into production

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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. ®

New hybrid storage solutions

More from The Register

next story
Half a BILLION in the making: Bungie's Destiny reviewed
It feels very familiar - but it's still good
Apple's big bang: iPhone 6, ANOTHER iPhone 6 Plus and WATCH OUT
Let's >sigh< see what Cupertino has been up to for the past year
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Get your Indian Landfill Android One handsets - they're only SIXTY QUID
Cheap and deafening mobes for the subcontinental masses
Apple's SNEAKY plan: COPY ANDROID. Hello iPhone 6, Watch
Sizes, prices and all – but not for the wrist-o-puter
DARPA-backed jetpack prototype built to make soldiers run faster
4 Minute Mile project hatched to speed up tired troops
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
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?
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.