What is touted as one of the world’s first digital computers, the Harwell Dekatron, which was created to do away with handwritten calculations of human “computors”, is about to be on the receiving end of an official reboot which could eventually result in it occupying a place in the Guinness Book of Records. Already 61 years old, the Harwell Dekatron which weighs as much as an SUV (being around that size a well) was originally capable of delivering error-free calculations as it runs for 90 hours a week, and it has managed to survive as one of the oldest original working digital computer, especially after it was restored by The National Museum of Computing (TNMOC) in the UK.
The Harwell Dekatron itself relies on 480 relays which have plenty in common with telephone exchanges of today compared to the modern day computer. Relays will reside within a collection of racks, which in turn holds 828 flashing Dekatron valves that are actually gas-filled counting tubes that saw action in the early days of computing instead of the transistors found in modern electronics.
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