Edsac, the Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator was a pioneering computer built at Cambridge University, United Kingdom, in the late 1940s to help scientists at the university.
Edsac, the Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator was a pioneering computer built at Cambridge University, United Kingdom, in the late 1940s to help scientists at the university. It ran its first program in May 1949, and helped analyze data generated by using multiple different programs and experiments.
The project was decommissioned and dismantled in the 1950’s, and it had been unknown since then exactly where are the parts went. Recently, however, there has been an effort to rebuild the computer. The missing part, the Chassis 1A, helped to solve this riddle, according to Dr. Andrew Herbert, who is leading the reconstruction project at the National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park.
Researchers now believe that Edsar was sold at auction, but it is likely that it was sold in part.
“Details of the ‘auction’ are unclear, but there is a possibility that the other parts of the original Edsac still exist and could even be in the Cambridge area stored away in lofts, garden sheds and garages,” Dr. Herbert said, according to the BBC.
Chassis A1 was found in the United States, bought by Robert Little, in Pennsylvania and was donated back to help the reconstruction. Little says that he bought it from Cambridge scientist Dr. Robert Clarke back in 1969. Mr. Little has since been using parts of the Edsac as bookshelves. Upon learning of the reconstruction effort, Mr. Little contracted the team.
Chassis is designed to hold 28 of the 3,000 valves that formed main elements of the early computer.
Despite the condition of Chassis, which Dr. Herbert says is in poor condition due to corrosion after being in storage for several decades, he hopes to return it to operating condition.
The reconstruction is likely to be finished by the end of the year.
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