Lost part of UK's pioneering computer found

An original piece of one of the world’s first computers, EDSAC, has been discovered in the US and other parts may still be in existence.

EDSAC was originally built in Cambridge, UK, in the late 1940s and the chunk is thought to have been bought ten years later at an auction after the computer was decommissioned.

“Details of the ‘auction’ are unclear, but there is a possibility that other parts of the original EDSAC still exist and could even be in the Cambridge area stored away in lofts, garden sheds and garages. We would very much like to hear from anyone who thinks they may have other parts,” said Andrew Herbert, leader of the reconstruction project.

The part has been donated to help rebuild the machine and will be incorporated into the finished model at the National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park.

Talking about the condition of the missing part, called the Chassis 1A, Herbert said it was “quite distressed with corrosion and much of the wiring has broken away from tag strips”.

“It would be a major task to return this particular chassis to operating condition. However, we hope to try to use some of the valves, if they are still functional, in our reconstructed EDSAC thus providing a very tangible connection with the original machine.”

The Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator was designed to analyse data generated by many different experiments.

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