Oldest computer gets reboot: Harwell Dekatron, world’s oldest computer restored (Photo)

By on Nov 22, 2012 in Amazing, Europe, Technology, World Comments

The oldest computer gets a reboot after restoration was completed by The National Museum of Computing (TNMOC) in the UK on Tuesday, November 20, 2012. After getting the reboot, the 61-year-old Harwell Dekatron is expected to enter the Guinness Book of World Records. (see the oldest computer gets a reboot on video below)

World's oldest original working digital computer
Rebooted oldest computer
Image Credit: Robert Dowell | The National Museum of Computing

In a statement by Kevin Murrell, a trustee of the TNMOC, he said that “In 1951, the Harwell Dekatron was one of perhaps a dozen computers in the world, and since then, it has led a charmed life surviving intact while its contemporaries were recycled or destroyed.”

Below is a video of Harwell Dekatron.

Harwell Dekatron
Video Credit: tnmoc/Youtube

Delwyn Holroyd, a volunteer at TNMOC, described the restoration process as “quite a challenge, requiring work with components like valves, relays and paper tape readers that are rarely seen these days and are certainly not found in modern computers.”

The oldest computer is reportedly comparable to the size and weight of a modern sports utility vehicle (SUV).

A Live Science report say that Harwell Dekatron is a slow, steady machine but can provide error-free calculations while it runs continuously for 90 hours a week.

Harwell Dekatron uses 480 relays, placed inside a collection of racks together with 828 flashing valves. Early computers reportedly used gas-filled counting tubes compared to the modern computers that uses transistors. The oldest computer runs on a 1,500 watts of power compared with the 50 watts used to power up a modern day laptop.

The Harwell Atomic Energy Research Establishment was the first UK agency who used Harwell Dekatron.

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