EDSAC recreation plans

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Each TNMOC project has either a working group or project team assigned to do the work. Working groups are either managed in association with the CCS (Computer Conservation Society) or solely within the Museum.

A working replica of the first fully operational stored-program computer has been commissioned by the Computer Conservation Society (CCS) in recognition of the achievements of the pioneering computer scientists at Cambridge University in the 1940s.

The Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator (EDSAC) was a general purpose research tool at Cambridge University and led directly to the first business computer.

The aim is to recreate EDSAC in full public view at The National Museum of Computing to inform the general public about Britain’s illustrious computer heritage and to inspire future students of engineering and computing.

Fundraising is underway and the project, which is expected to take three to four years, is being funded by a consortium led by computing entrepreneur, Hermann Hauser.

A project director has been appointed and will be announced shortly. Research into the design of the machine and planning of the recreation is being led by Chris Burton.

EDSAC was originally built by a team led by the late Professor Sir Maurice Wilkes, then Director of the Mathematical Laboratory at Cambridge University and now widely regarded as the ‘father’ of British computing. Wilkes’ objective was to produce a practical and reliable computer using proven hardware and imaginative software programming techniques.

The recreation will be as authentic as possible and true to the spirit and technology of the time. Occupying a floor area of 20 square metres, the replica EDSAC is planned to be a highly visible display. The original had over 3000 electronic tubes (or "valves") used for logic, mercury-filled tubes for memory, data input via paper tape and output on a teleprinter. Only the mercury-filled tubes are expected not to be recreated – in compliance with modern safety requirements – and will be substituted with a similar delay line storage technology.

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