Alright that thing looks like a crapload of old wires and tubes, but it could turn into the world's oldest working stored program computer if England's National Museum of Computing in Bletchley can raise the funds to reboot it.


The dust is being swept off the giant machine—called the Harwell—which was in storage since 1973. Before that (it was built in 1949) the computer and its whopping 112.5 bytes of memory performed mathematical calculations. It was designed around dekatrons (900 of them) which are neon-filled valves that can store numbers. And if you ever want to complain about your PC being slow, it apparently took up to 10 seconds for the machine to complete a single multiplication. The results would print out on tape like that chap is holding in the picture.

They predict the machine will take about a year to restore, but who knows till they try. It may actually boot quicker than Vista, eh? [The Inquirer and BBC]

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