The oldest working computer returns to operation

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The alleged oldest still functioning computer in the world is running again. His name is “Wolverhampton Instrument for Teaching Computing from Harwell” – or short WITCH as witch – and is in the English National Museum of Computing.

The three-ton, room-filling system for use in atomic research commissioned by the British government is 61 years old. three years took the restoration. “In the year 1951 was the ‘Harwell dekatron’ perhaps a world of a dozen computers, and while his contemporaries were recycled or destroyed, it has survived,” said museum curator Kevin Murrell.

Input and output via paper tape. The information – that is ones and zeros – stores the computer internally gas-filled tubes as dekatron be called – and that one bit. In addition, he put in hundreds of relays, which were at that time actually provided for telephone systems.

According to the museum was the goal of the design reliability, and speed. WITCH algorithms worked from about as fast as a single mathematician with a slide rule, but never had to take breaks to sleep or eat.

“When you see him, you can watch how the computer works inside – something that is impossible in today’s machines,” said Murrell. The museum stands next WITCH way Colossus Mark II , the first electronic computer operating worldwide.

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