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CSIRAC: First Computer Marks 60th Birthday

The world’s oldest intact computer just turned 60, quite the milestone! From ABC News:

The world’s oldest intact computer is turning 60 in Victoria.

The CSIRAC – Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research organisation Automatic Computer – is housed in the state’s museum and has today been granted heritage listing as part of its birthday celebrations.

It is the first computer ever to be made in Australia; the fourth computer ever to be made in the world; and the only first generation computer that remains intact.

The CSIRAC was designed from scratch and hand built in 1949. It was run off paper tape, which Mr Demant says probably now constitutes the worlds oldest software library.

“It consisted of nine cabinets, which are about seven foot high and very wide, and there was a console and the computer was driven,” he said.

“It wasn’t automatic like we know today, you actually had to intervene every now and then in running a program and it ran off paper tape… so its output was paper tape and there was no screen as such.”

We’ve sure come a long way, but it’s quite interesting to see the point modern computers, and modern rack mounted servers have evolved from with Australia’s first generation of software programmers being trained on CSIRAC.

You can find in-depth details and pictures over at the CSIRAC page on the Museum of Victoria website:http://museumvictoria.com.au/csirac/