Belfast Telegraph

Friday 26 December 2014

Computer rebooted after nine years

Rod Brown with the world's oldest computer which has been rebooted by two dedicated engineers
Rod Brown with the world's oldest computer which has been rebooted by two dedicated engineers

The world's oldest computer has been rebooted by two dedicated engineers who have spent nine years bringing it back to life.

Roger Holmes and Rod Brown have returned the ICT1301 computer, known as a Flossie, which was originally bought for £250,000 in 1962, back to full working order.

The machine, which measures 20ft by 22ft, was originally used by London University to organise the grades of A and O-level exam results and print certificates.

After it was replaced by new technology, the Flossie was then sold to a group of students before being passed on to Mr Brown and Mr Holmes who have been restoring it in a large garden shed in Ashford, Kent.

The computer has 12kb of memory, alone weighing half a tonne, - there are 1024kb in a megabyte (MB) and a normal modern smartphone has 8gb which is 8192mb.

Each piece of memory was handwired with five pieces of wire threaded through it.

Mr Holmes, a volunteer for the Computer Conservation Society, said: "It is a unique piece of history. People who come to see it are so amazed by it, that computers were ever so big.

"It's important as it puts modern stuff in context."

Mr Holmes said that he was currently in negotiations with various centres to find a new home for it.

He said: "It's a big beast. I would like it go somewhere they will continue to keep it running. If it is kept behind a case, people will not be able to experience what it was like in the 1960s, with it working people can walk in, hear it, smell it and almost taste it and have a flavour of how it was back then."

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