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Rediscovered Plans Aid Edsac Reconstruction

By BBC News

June 30, 2014

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The National Museum of Computing's reconstruction of one of the most significant early British digital computers will benefit from the resurfacing of 19 detailed circuit diagrams of the machine.

Cambridge University scientists led by Sir Maurice Wilkes created the Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator (Edsac) in 1947 to help the institution's scientists analyze data. Edsac was the first machine designed to serve as a computational resource for experimentalists.

The reconstruction efforts began with minimal information about the design's evolution and little original hardware. Former Cambridge University engineer John Loker recently learned of the Edsac reconstruction and gave the team the diagrams, which he discovered amongst some discarded items when he began work at the school's mathematical laboratory in 1959, shortly after Edsac was turned off for the last time.

The reconstruction team is using the diagrams to ensure the rebuild is faithful to the original design, and expects to complete the project by the end of next year.

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