A Guinness World Record at TNMOC
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First video clip passes one million You Tube views
At an open evening for local businesses, TNMOC revealed the news that the Harwell Dekatron / WITCH computer has been recognised by Guinness World Records as the world's oldest original working digital computer.
To coincide with this recognition, TNMOC is releasing a 21-minute video of the Harwell Dekatron Reboot that took place at The National Museum of Computing on 20 November 2012. The video features two of the original designers, the recently-deceased Ted Cooke-Yarborough and Dick Barnes, along with Bart Fossey, an early user of the computer at Harwell in the 1950s, and Peter Burden, a user of the computer when it was in Wolverhampton in the 1960s. The video also features the true story and a re-run of the famous Man versus Machine "Race" in which Bart Fossey takes on the computer with a hand calculator.
Kevin Murrell, a trustee of TNMOC and the person who initiated the recovery of the 61-year old Harwell Dekatron computer, said: "We are delighted with the recognition by Guinness World Records for the Dekatron. Today the fully-functioning Harwell Dekatron / WITCH computer is proving a hugely popular attraction at TNMOC and invaluable in teaching our stream of educational groups about their computing heritage.
"To have the historic Reboot captured on video for posterity is fantastic and we were extraordinarily lucky to have two of the designers and two of the early users present to recall their memories of those very early days of computing. We are very grateful to Google UK for sponsoring the video."
Delwyn Holroyd who led the restoration team said: "It took three years of dedicated work by volunteers to restore the Harwell Dekatron / WITCH and although we realised its importance and significance, we have been overwhelmed by the global interest in the machine. The news of the reboot was covered by national newspapers and broadcasters across the world and a short video clip of the reboot event on You Tube went viral and has so far attracted more than one million views."
It is the second time that Guinness World Records has recognised the Harwell Dekatron / WITCH. The first was in 1973 when it was acclaimed as the world's "oldest operative computer" just before it was decommissioned at the Wolverhampton and Staffordshire Technical College.
The Harwell Dekatron / WITCH computer can be seen at The National Museum of Computing when it is open: http://www.tnmoc.org/visit On most opening days, the wall-sized machine can be seen working, Dekatrons flashing and relays clattering.
Notes To Editors
WITCH Fact file
1949 Design begun
1951 First operated
1957 Moved to Wolverhampton
1973 Declared world's most durable computer
1973 Moved to Birmingham Museum of Science and Industry
1997 Moved into storage at Birmingham Collections Centre
2009 Moved to TNMOC
2012 Rebooted to become the world's oldest original working digital computer
Power Consumption: 1.5kW
Size 2m high x 6m wide x 1m deep
Weight: 2.5 tonnes
Number of Dekatron counter tubes: 828
Number of other valves: 131
Number of relays: 480
Number of contacts or relay switches: 7073
Number of high speed relays: 26
Number of lamps: 199
Number of switches: 18
About The National Museum of Computing
The National Museum of Computing, located at Bletchley Park, is an independent charity housing the largest collection of functional historic computers in Europe, including a rebuilt Colossus, the world’s first electronic semi-programmable computer. The Museum enables visitors to follow the development of computing from the ultra-secret pioneering efforts of the 1940s through the mainframes of the 1960s and 1970s, the rise of personal computing in the 1980s and beyond.
New working exhibits are regularly unveiled and the public can already view a rebuilt and fully operational Colossus, the restoration of the Harwell Dekatron / WITCH computer, an ICL 2966, one of the workhorse mainframes computers of the 1980s, many of the earliest desktops of the 1980s and 1990s, plus the NPL Technology of the Internet Gallery.
Funders of the Museum include Bletchley Park Capital Partners, CreateOnline, Ceravision, InsightSoftware.com, Google UK, PGP Corporation, IBM, NPL, HP Labs, BCS, the Drapers' Foundation, Black Marble, and the School of Computer Science at the University of Hertfordshire. The Museum is currently open to the public on Thursdays and Saturdays from 1pm, and on Bank Holidays in spring and summer. Guided tours are also available at 2.30pm on Tuesdays, 2pm Sundays and some other days. Groups may visit at other times by arrangement and special organisation Away-Days can be booked.
Palam Communications for TNMOC
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