WITCH recognised by Guinness World Records
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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.