Turning up their noses at modern handheld devices, British researchers are rebuilding a 60-year-old, room-size computer that used 5-foot-long tubes of mercury as memory.
The Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator (EDSAC) was first built at Cambridge University. It's recognized as the world's first practical electronic stored-program computer, and unlike earlier program-controlled computers, none of its wiring or switches had to be changed to perform a new calculation.
Programs were fed into the machine on a punched tape. The first was run on May 6, 1949, computing a set of square numbers.
As a general-purpose research tool, EDSAC was … Read more