Photos: World’s earliest computers restored to their prime
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One of the first computers built in the UK, the Pilot ACE was created at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in the early 1950s.
The Pilot Ace was one of several early stored program computers to be built in the post-war era, alongside other UK designs like the Manchester Mark 1 and EDSAC.
It was based on a design by World War II codebreaker and computing pioneer Alan Turing, although he left NPL before it was completed.
The Pilot ACE used 800 vacuum tubes to perform floating point arithmetic necessary for scientific calculations.
EAI Pace (TR 48)
The EAI Pace is a “desktop computer” in every sense of the word.
Manufactured in the early 1960’s, the analog machine came with its own custom-made desk. Despite being described as u2018compact in size’ in its operator’s manual, the machine stands just over two feet high and four feet wide.
The TR48 was even used as part of the US Apollo moon program during testing of flight systems.
The HDR75 is a small analog -digital hybrid computer that was developed in the former East Germany at the Technical University of Dresden, now known as The Center for Information Services and High Performance Computing.
u201cIt is often supposed that computing design u2013 as in their physical aesthetic design u2013 was of minimal consideration until the emergence of the modern Apple iMac. To look at these early computers in their purest form is to realise that this is not the case,u201d said Ball in a brief explaining what he learned from the project.
The towering IBM 729 Magnetic Tape Unit stored data on up to 2,400ft of magnetic tape.
Part of the IBM 7 track family of tape units, it was used as a mass storage system from the late 1950s until the mid-1960s.
Developed by the now defunct UK computing company ICL during the 1970s, the 7500 series were a range of terminals and workstations.
Intended for an office environment, they were about the size of a tower PC, with the processor and peripheral units housed in a steel-framed and wood-veneered cabinet.
By the 1980s, specialised versions of these machines could run the latest games, such as Pac-Man and Space Invaders.
Control Data 6600
For five years in the 1960s, the CDC 6600 held the title of the world’s fastest computer.
Manufactured by Control Data Corporation, the mainframe supercomputer could perform up to three million floating point operations per second.
Developed and created by supercomputing pioneer Seymour Cray, the 6600 prompted then IBM CEO Thomas J. Watson, Jr to write a memo to his employees bemoaning IBM having u201clost our industry leadership positionu201d to a company with relatively modest resources.
Developed in the former East Germany, the ENDIM 2000 was an analog computer that used a tube-based design.
About 20 machines were made and the surviving machine is held at the Technische Sammlungen Dresden.
Built in the former Czechoslovakia, the Meda 42TA dates from the early 1970s and found widespread use in the many countries behind the then Iron Curtain.
It is a hybrid machine, using a mix of digital and analog computing to solve problems.