Hardware

Alan Turing: Exhibition offers rare glimpse of the man behind the enigma

Turing drew up designs for the Automatic Computing Engine or ACE, whose capabilities would be a step beyond those of Colossus, in that it would be a stored-program and general-purpose computer.

ACE, which was built and installed at the National Physical Laboratory at Teddington, generated excited headlines in the British press when it ran its first program in 1950, with one paper proclaiming, "ACE may be the fastest brain, month's work in a minute".

ACE had a clock speed of 1MHz, making it exceptionally fast for its day. A room-sized commercial version of the first model called DEUCE was also produced and became the foundation of the emerging British computer industry.

The first personal desk-side computer, the Bendix G-15, was also based on Turing's ACE design. Marketed by the US-based Bendix Corporation from 1954, the G-15 looked like a jumbo-size kitchen refrigerator and was the forerunner of the modern desktop computer.

Photo: Courtesy of the National Physical Laboratory

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Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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