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Re: [midatlanticretro] Re: Oldest working digital computer?

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  • Evan Koblentz
    ... Context is key. :) ENIAC isn t in one piece, nor one place ... parts of it are scattered about the country, and huge fractions of it are simply gone. The
    Message 1 of 21 , Nov 23, 2012
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      >> I guess the ENIAC is non-function? ... >> There's an effort afoot to take back the TITLE! Restore the ENIAC in Philadelphia!

      Context is key. :) ENIAC isn't in one piece, nor one place ... parts of it are scattered about the country, and huge fractions of it are simply gone. The plan you cited involves building a replica of most of it, whereas the Witch is mostly original. Also, the plan you cited mostly exists "on paper"; there isn't much actual effort underway.

      Here's the good news: the Mauchly/Eckert families and MARCH have a good relationship. I first met Bill M. (son of ENIAC creator John M.; Bill is the family's historian, public liaison, and himself a computer engineer) around 2006/2007. I asked for his help with some research and that went well. Then he spoke at our VCF East show in 2008. After that I helped him with some of his own research and became close with a group of historians and Mauchly/Eckert family members who are all passionate about ENIAC.

      As such, Bill is very aware of InfoAge, and there's an open invitation for him to build his replica there as part of our computer museum.

      Unfortunately our museum doesn't own any ENIAC artifacts. All we have is a picture. However we do have some UNIVAC artifacts. We have a UNIVAC 1 technical manual, several pictures, a board of tubes from an unspecified ERA/Remington system; and the majority of a UNIVAC 1219 computer from 1965.
    • Dave Wade
      ... I still believe that the first machine that was a true stored program computer, and so the first thing most of us would recognize as a computer, rather
      Message 2 of 21 , Nov 23, 2012
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        On 23 November 2012 12:43, Evan Koblentz <evan@...> wrote:
        >> I guess the ENIAC is non-function? ... >> There's an effort afoot to take back the TITLE! Restore the ENIAC in Philadelphia!

        Context is key.  :)  ENIAC isn't in one piece, nor one place ... parts of it are scattered about the country, and huge fractions of it are simply gone. The plan you cited involves building a replica of most of it, whereas the Witch is mostly original. Also, the plan you cited mostly exists "on paper"; there isn't much actual effort underway.


        I still believe that the first machine that was a true stored program computer, and so the first thing most of us would recognize as a computer, rather than a programmable calculator  was the Manchester Baby and all we are going of have of that is the current replica at www.mosi.org.uk.

        Here's the good news: the Mauchly/Eckert families and MARCH have a good relationship. I first met Bill M. (son of ENIAC creator John M.; Bill is the family's historian, public liaison, and himself a computer engineer) around 2006/2007. I asked for his help with some research and that went well. Then he spoke at our VCF East show in 2008. After that I helped him with some of his own research and became close with a group of historians and Mauchly/Eckert family members who are all passionate about ENIAC.

        As such, Bill is very aware of InfoAge, and there's an open invitation for him to build his replica there as part of our computer museum.

        Unfortunately our museum doesn't own any ENIAC artifacts. All we have is a picture. However we do have some UNIVAC artifacts. We have a UNIVAC 1 technical manual, several pictures, a board of tubes from an unspecified ERA/Remington system; and the majority of a UNIVAC 1219 computer from 1965.


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      • B Degnan
        Simon...none were actually produced I thought. -- Sent from my PDP 8/e.
        Message 3 of 21 , Nov 23, 2012
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          Simon...none were actually produced I thought.
          --
          Sent from my PDP 8/e.
        • B Degnan
          ... Functioning computers. B -- Sent from my PDP 8/e.
          Message 4 of 21 , Nov 23, 2012
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            Douglas <touchetek@...> wrote:

            >
            >
            >--- In midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com, "Evan Koblentz" <evan@...>
            >wrote:
            >>
            >> >> I'll be interested in hearing if you guys think their claim of
            >oldest is true.
            >>
            >> It's the oldest digital large-scale computer. But there are probably
            >some people with Simon computers from the 1950s. Those are digital,
            >just not large-scale.
            >>
            >
            >I guess the ENIAC is non-function?
            >Darnit. Those Brits.
            >
            >
            >

            Functioning computers.
            B


            --
            Sent from my PDP 8/e.
          • Evan Koblentz
            ... Why do you think that? (I don t mean the abstract Simon from the Giant Brains book, I mean the digital logic trainer, a la DigiComp, etc.
            Message 5 of 21 , Nov 23, 2012
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              >> Simon...none were actually produced I thought.

              Why do you think that?

              (I don't mean the abstract Simon from the "Giant Brains" book, I mean the digital logic trainer, a la DigiComp, etc.
            • B Degnan
              Wrong thread. But what trainers, from 40s to 1950, were produced. -- Sent from my PDP 8/e.
              Message 6 of 21 , Nov 23, 2012
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                Wrong thread. But what trainers, from 40s to 1950, were produced.
                --
                Sent from my PDP 8/e.
              • Jeff Jonas
                ... Close but no cigar. Those are DECKATRON tubes: they count up AND display the number as a glowing pin in orange (neon) or purple (mixed gas). Meaning the
                Message 7 of 21 , Nov 24, 2012
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                  > I did enjoy the video, love seeing old pixie tubes in action.

                  Close but no cigar.
                  Those are DECKATRON tubes: they count up AND display the number as a glowing pin in orange (neon) or purple (mixed gas). Meaning the ALU is decimal, not bi-quinary or binary.
                • William Donzelli
                  ... Close but no cigar. There were Dekatron tubes that were not decimal based, some with extra electrodes so you could do weird numeric bases and bi-quinary
                  Message 8 of 21 , Nov 24, 2012
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                    > Close but no cigar.
                    > Those are DECKATRON tubes: they count up AND display the number as a
                    > glowing pin in orange (neon) or purple (mixed gas). Meaning the ALU is
                    > decimal, not bi-quinary or binary.

                    Close but no cigar.

                    There were Dekatron tubes that were not decimal based, some with extra
                    electrodes so you could do weird numeric bases and bi-quinary
                    (although in this case I am pretty sure they are pure decimal).

                    --
                    Will
                  • Douglas
                    ... Oh OK! Learning something every time on this board. I ll have to look them up. THANKS!
                    Message 9 of 21 , Nov 24, 2012
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                      --- In midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com, "Jeff Jonas" <jeff_s_jonas@...> wrote:
                      >
                      > > I did enjoy the video, love seeing old pixie tubes in action.
                      >
                      > Close but no cigar.
                      > Those are DECKATRON tubes: they count up AND display the number as a glowing pin in orange (neon) or purple (mixed gas). Meaning the ALU is decimal, not bi-quinary or binary.
                      >

                      Oh OK! Learning something every time on this board.
                      I'll have to look them up.
                      THANKS!
                    • Douglas
                      ... That s very kind of you, and the sentiment is reciprocal. Any competition is definitely friendly!
                      Message 10 of 21 , Nov 24, 2012
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                        --- In midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com, Mike Hatch <mike@...> wrote:
                        >

                        > If it helps get the old stuff running - yes - even if on the wrong
                        > side of the pond !, all power to you, best of luck.
                        >

                        That's very kind of you, and the sentiment is reciprocal.
                        Any competition is definitely friendly!
                      • Douglas
                        ... to take back the TITLE! Restore the ENIAC in Philadelphia! ... of it are scattered about the country, and huge fractions of it are simply gone. The plan
                        Message 11 of 21 , Nov 24, 2012
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                          --- In midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com, "Evan Koblentz" <evan@...> wrote:
                          >
                          > >> I guess the ENIAC is non-function? ... >> There's an effort afoot to take back the TITLE! Restore the ENIAC in Philadelphia!
                          >
                          > Context is key. :) ENIAC isn't in one piece, nor one place ... parts of it are scattered about the country, and huge fractions of it are simply gone. The plan you cited involves building a replica of most of it, whereas the Witch is mostly original. Also, the plan you cited mostly exists "on paper"; there isn't much actual effort underway.
                          >
                          > Here's the good news: the Mauchly/Eckert families and MARCH have a good relationship. I first met Bill M. (son of ENIAC creator John M.; Bill is the family's historian, public liaison, and himself a computer engineer) around 2006/2007. I asked for his help with some research and that went well. Then he spoke at our VCF East show in 2008. After that I helped him with some of his own research and became close with a group of historians and Mauchly/Eckert family members who are all passionate about ENIAC.
                          >
                          > As such, Bill is very aware of InfoAge, and there's an open invitation for him to build his replica there as part of our computer museum.
                          >

                          That's great news!  Very exciting possibilities.

                          > Unfortunately our museum doesn't own any ENIAC artifacts. All we have is a picture. However we do have some UNIVAC artifacts. We have a UNIVAC 1 technical manual, several pictures, a board of tubes from an unspecified ERA/Remington system; and the majority of a UNIVAC 1219 computer from 1965.
                          >

                          Awesome.
                          Do you already have any good Burroughs contacts?  I just bought some old Macs off of a retired Burroughs executive.
                          I could try to track down some early Burroughs through him if you want.


                        • Jeff Jonas
                          ... It was also covered by BoingBoing: http://boingboing.net/2012/11/21/1951-digital-computer-restored.html citing Wikipedia:
                          Message 12 of 21 , Nov 24, 2012
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                            > That's the 531 character URL. Here's the 26 character:
                            > <http://tinyurl.com/bhqbnv6>

                            It was also covered by BoingBoing:
                            http://boingboing.net/2012/11/21/1951-digital-computer-restored.html


                            citing Wikipedia:
                            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WITCH_%28computer%29
                            the Harwell Dekatron Computer ... used dekatrons for volatile memory

                            The machine was decimal and initially had twenty 8-digit dekatron registers for internal storage, which was increased to 40 which appeared to be enough for nearly all calculations

                            This site explains some details such as schematics
                            http://www.computerconservationsociety.org/witch.htm
                            http://www.computerconservationsociety.org/witch1.htm

                            http://www.chilton-computing.org.uk/acl/literature/reports/p009.htm

                            as a step on the way Electronics Division offered to design and build for us an automatic calculator in which the switching was done by relays (as had been done in a classic series of machines built by Stibitz in Bell Labs.) but in which the decimal arithmetic and memory were electronic, using about 800 scale-of-ten Dekatron tubes.


                            And there you have it from the horse's mouth: those are ALL scale-of-ten Dekatron tubes

                            And those metal cylinders are probably stepping relays that also tend to be in banks of 10.
                          • Jeff Jonas
                            And most useful to us: the bottom right column links to the programmer s manual and flowcharts! http://www.computerconservationsociety.org/witch.htm
                            Message 13 of 21 , Nov 24, 2012
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                              And most useful to us: the bottom right column links to the programmer's manual and flowcharts!

                              http://www.computerconservationsociety.org/witch.htm
                            • William Donzelli
                              ... Yes, those used in that specific machine are, but not all Dekatrons are decimal. The phone company used some of the oddball types due to some of the
                              Message 14 of 21 , Nov 24, 2012
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                                > And there you have it from the horse's mouth: those are ALL scale-of-ten
                                > Dekatron tubes

                                Yes, those used in that specific machine are, but not all Dekatrons
                                are decimal. The phone company used some of the oddball types due to
                                some of the non-decimal nature of the switching system.

                                --
                                Will
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