Ancient Computing Machinery
«Those who scorn computer history are those who
really don't grasp what is happening today and will never really
The criterion for the Ancient Computing Machinery Project embodied
three major points:
This project stopped dead in its tracks (just after my xabacus was
completed) when I read (a cover story in a Scientific
American) that the Science
Museum in London, U.K. had built a working copy of Babbage's
difference engine. John Walker has Java simulation of
Babbage's Engine that you can program on-line.
- that the simulation be a reasonable facsimile of the original;
- that it embody the complete functionality of the original;
- that it have a teaching-mode built-in.
Here are some ancient computers
Images scanned by Clarke Thacher
- (48K) IBM Selective Sequence Electronic
Calculator from 1948. This system had three levels of memory:
electronic, relay, paper tape.
(Left side) The first cabinet contains card reading tubes. The
second contains sequence tubes. The next four contain sequence
relays. The first gentleman is standing in front of the table
The three large circular objects in the back are spools of 80
column paper tape. Each spool is feed into a punch unit and into
three separate tape readers.
(Right side) Arithmetical unit, pulse generator, sequence
interlocks, electronic memory.
- (30K) DEC PDP1
- (17K) DEC PDP1 front-panel closeup.
- (31K) DEC PDP6
- (30K) LGP-30, manufactured by Librascope in about
1960. It has been described as the minicomputer of the vacuum tube
era. The machine is imortalized in the story of Mel, a "real"
computer programmer, as retold in _The New Hackers
- (18K) PDP1 display with a spacewar game in
Last modified: Sun Nov 23 18:50:10 2003