First computer to be re-born in museum show

A previous exhibition at The history of the National Museum of Computing, Bletchley Park
A previous exhibition at The history of the National Museum of Computing, Bletchley Park

A WORKING replica of the first fully operational stored-program computer is coming to the National Museum of Computing.

The museum, based at Bletchley Park, will play host to the Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator – EDSAC. The project, commissioned by the Computer Conservation Society – CCS – recognises the achievements of pioneering computer scientists at Cambridge University in the 1940s.

The new project is expected to take three to four years and is being funded by a consortium led by computing entrepreneur, Hermann Hauser. The EDSAC was a general purpose research tool and led directly to the first business computer.

It was built by a team led by the late Professor Sir Maurice Wilkes, then director of the Mathematical Laboratory at the university.

Kevin Murrell, from The National Museum of Computing, said: “Recreating a fully-functioning EDSAC computer is quite a challenge, but our experience in rebuilding the Colossus computer gives us confidence and insight.”

The recreation will be as authentic as possible and will occupy a floor area of 20 square metres. The original had over 3000 electronic tubes used for logic, mercury-filled tubes for memory, data input via paper tape and output on a teleprinter.