WITCH breaks a world record

Brian Craig, Karthil Vijay (Inium Corp), Kevin Morrell (museum director), Gary Skelton
Brian Craig, Karthil Vijay (Inium Corp), Kevin Morrell (museum director), Gary Skelton

A COMPUTER in Bletchley has been recognised as the world’s oldest working by Guinness World Records.

The Harwell Dekatron/WITCH computer entered the book of world records last Thursday at the National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park.

The Harwell Dekatron/WITCH was first designed in 1949, and was completed two years later. It was kept in the Birmingham Museum of Science and Industry until 2009, when it was moved to Bletchley Park. Here, it was repaired and rebooted in 2012. A video of the work was recorded to mark the historic reboot.

Kevin Murrell, a trustee of TNMOC and the person who initiated the recovery of the 61-year old Harwell Dekatron computer, said: “We are delighted with the recognition by Guinness World Records for the Dekatron.

“Today the fully-functioning Harwell Dekatron/WITCH computer is proving a hugely popular attraction at TNMOC and invaluable in teaching our stream of educational groups about their computing heritage.

“To have the historic Reboot captured on video for posterity is fantastic and we were extraordinarily lucky to have two of the designers and two of the early users present to recall their memories of those very early days of computing.”

Delwyn Holroyd who led the restoration team said: “It took three years of dedicated work by volunteers to restore the Harwell Dekatron / WITCH and although we realised its importance and significance, we have been overwhelmed by the global interest in the machine.

“The news of the reboot was covered by national newspapers and broadcasters across the world and a short video clip of the reboot event on YouTube went viral and has so far attracted more than one million views.”

It is the second time that Guinness World Records has recognised the Harwell Dekatron / WITCH.

The first was in 1973 when it was acclaimed as the world’s most durable computer just before it was decommissioned at Wolverhampton and Staffordshire Technical College.

Related Links: VIDEO: The reboot of the Harwell Dekatron/WITCH computer, the world’s oldest working computer