Looked it up on Wikipedia. Want.
Britain's hefty Harwell Dekatron is back in the Guinness Book of World Records after being recognised - for the second time - as the world's oldest working digital computer. The 2.5-tonne number-crunching goliath began life at the Atomic Energy Research Establishment in Harwell, Oxfordshire, in 1951, and put reliability over …
I don't like smoking at all...
But I'd kind of like to see that.......
As apprentice "Makers of Boils" - we got force fed safety videos of dummies dressed in overall's, getting the dust blown off them with pure oxygen, from an oxygen aceteylene cutting torch....
Add a source of ignition...
Sort of impressive.
But not exactly "in the confines of an oxygen filled space capsule" effect, with the LOX bottles and lines in situ as well.
Satan - Oxygen lights my fire.
This post has been deleted by its author
and the suit from Apple will follow after a swift visit to the patent office. They'll be putting this new vacuum tubes tech in the iphone 6 to make it lighter ;-)
It's great to see it back up and running! I know it's very Beardy but theres something awesome about those old machines, they're not just beige boxes (ok Sun have made some nice kit in their time, but its all just boxes really), stuff with tubes and lights is just so 1970's scifi :-)
They are immensely knowledgable and keen to share that knowledge.
The gentleman ("I know valves, not computers") who took time out to explain the machine and how it worked to my niece last year, then got her to step it through to demonstrate how it processed a calculation deserves my thanks. If there's been a bar handy, I'd have offered him a pint. Thank you Sir!
There used to be a bar in the manor house. No idea if they are still licensed. Otherwise head out the main entrance, turn left on to Church Green Road and the Eight Belles is down the bottom on the right.
Dunno why I felt the need to tell you all that but it would be nice to think we could get the engineers / guides sloshed one by one on a daily basis :)
If all you want to do is visit the "geek-gasam inducing collection of computers", then you don't want to visit the Bletchley Park Trust as such as their tours cover the war time story (intersting as it is) but don't even include a visit to Colossus any more. What you want to do is visit "The National Museum of Computing" which is a separate museum located on the BP site.
Agree totally. It is a fantastic place to visit, especially for us gentlemen of a certain incoming middle youth age bracket. And the people there are so nice and knowledgeable.
The Computer Science Museum there run programming workshops for kids to play with BBC Micros etc... It works well because the machines so immediate. When asked 'how long does it take to start a BBC Micro so it's ready to use?' the guesses ranged from 5 minutes to half an hour (!). Instead: One flick of the power switch, half a second and one beep:
BBC Computer 32K
> rem The world starts here...
According to the guy I spoke with, the kids loved it.
Lyons Electronic Office was a contemporary of this beastie, actually.
It lead eventually to a weird conversation I had in a job interview. The company's product was marketed as being so easy to use that even your mother could use it. Hmm. So in the interview I remarked on the obvious flaw with this line of "reasoning": my mother, in the 1960s, was a senior programmer for LEO (the company) on LEO III machines. Saying it was so easy even she could use it isn't really a strong message...
(Yes, I do know what was meant, which is why I said it to be read as teasing them slightly...)
I think you will it was Roosevelt and co. who gave half of Europe to Stalin. They knew how many American deaths there would be if they advanced past Berlin, and decided it was politically unacceptable to have to explain to American mothers why their sons were dead when Hitler would have lost the war anyway.
It's using dekatrons which are essentially counters. This hints that it may be based on counting registers, exactly as mechanical calculators did.
In fact there were some desktop calculators like the ANITA which were based on the same principle.
Essentially those calculators were advanced "adding" machines. You could only add to a register by making it count up a number of steps. Subtractions were made by adding complement numbers. So if you wanted to substract 1, you would add 999...999. You could also typically shift the number you wanted to add. So you could add a number times 10 for example. That makes multiplications fairly simple.
In fact on the mechanical machines you often had to do those steps manually.
I think this machine also shows an early approach to computing. It didn't matter that it was just as slow as a human. What mattered was that you could off load work. The computer, in the early days, was a monument to lazyness. People built computers because they couldn't be bothered to do manual computational work. It's much more fun to build a machine to do that sort of work for you, and much cooler, too. :)
> It's much more fun to build a machine to do that sort of work for you, and much cooler, too. :)
I think Douglas Adams said that he was the sort of person who would rather spend two days writing a program that would automate a task that would have taken him half an hour to do himself.
There wouldn't be a US bomb without assistance from the Brits. Check out Baron Penney. A key part of the original US design team.
Strange thing is I knew this guy when I was a kid. His wife used to babysit me and my sister at times. Or we'd go round for tea and cakes. I never knew his background until I saw a BBC documentary on the British Bomb. And there was Lady Penney talking about it... talk about jaw dropping!! Realising I personally knew someone involved with THE bomb certainly makes you think!! (Even more so now I read that Wiki article which shows Penney picked out the targets...)
You may be confusing warheads and MIRVS, I believe the nuclear non-proliferation pact prevents the US selling the UK nukes and they certainly hid behind it when we asked the information on the Manhattan project we'd been promised in exchange for taking part.
Certainly your claim does raise the question of what the fuck AWE Aldermaston has been doing for the last 62 years...
Although I wouldn't believe documentaries, they frequently get stuff wrong.
its a history documentry, the british warhead was`nt 100% stable or something, and the blue streak rocket was`nt finished, so they brought some american rockets, and part of the deal was the warheads that had to be included..
trident nuclear weapons are american and made by lockhead or someone else
either way, i am not bothered, blame it all on a computer that would take 2 months for some physics math, and another 2 month with 1 simple mistake
Someone else has noted that Dekatrons are cold cathode, but it's worth perhaps noting that a typical computer double triode consumes about 2.5 to 4 watts in the cathode(s) and about 2W in the anode circuit. A relay uses between about 300 and 600 mW. I am giving away my age here.
So allowing about 5-6 double triodes per decade, you are still looking at maybe 30kW rather than megawatts - and the calculations would have been much faster. As the Flowers said to the Newman.
Ten seconds for a division in 1951.
In 1967 I watched a big division take one second.
I was using an IBM1620 machine to calculate PI to 300 places. Its architecture was binary coded decimal, so 300 correct places was almost as easy as 3. The algorithm involved dividing a 600 digit number by a 300 digit number, and it took about one second. The flashing lights stayed constant during the operation.
Well back then, the question was, whether to have a slow computer with few parts you can afford, or a fast computer with many parts which not only costs a lot more to build, but also to run.
This computer was meant to be "affordable" replacing maybe a handful of human computers. It required next to no power and probably was quite reliable. It may have been cheap enough so everyone in the institution could just use it, without having to go through a lengthy permission process.
"......Power Consumption: 1.5kW
Size: 2m high x 6m wide x 1m deep
Weight: 2.5 tonnes
Number of Dekatron counter tubes: 828
Number of other valves: 131
Number of relays: 480
Number of contacts or relay switches: 7073
Number of high speed relays: 26
Number of lamps: 199
Number of switches: 18......"
Wow, someone actually has a worse spec work PC than I do!
Joking aside, big congrats to the team that restored this beauty a second time.
It was also fantastic to see the original scientists give their testimony to the history of computing! I imagine in the future, the US will not even be recognized as a contributor to this early technology, because we fall behind in the restoration of the original machines, or replica of such! Even though we did have a few first successes.
I really have to hand to you Brits for keeping the history alive! KUDOs!!! This is SOOOOo KEWL!!! :)
Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022