Monday, June 23, 2008

Happy birthday Baby

Those of you who complain about your computers; how slow, how big they they are and how they crash all too often should have struggled with this monster.


Nicknamed Baby, it whirred to life 60 years ago in a nondescript laboratory at Manchester University.

Among the components that made up this one tone monster were metal Post Office racks, garden fence posts, Meccano pieces and Spitfire radios left over from the war. It ran so hot that they had to keep the windows open even on cold days to stop it from crashing.

Instead of a screen, information, in the form of glowing dots and dashes, was read directly off the face of a cathode ray tube.

At first, it failed in its task to solve a problem involving prime numbers.

But shortly after 11am on June 21st 1948 the display tube lit up with the right answer - and the computer was born.

From thereon, as they say, "it was all history".

1 comment:

Pete said...

It's always fascinating to see things 'moving in circles'.

At first this machine could only output its information from a Cathode Ray Tube display - then it later got 'upgraded' to output results onto a punched card.

How long before some bright spark then invented the Visual Display Unit, based entirely on...a cathode ray tube!