EDSAC teleprinter handover

Hyperscale IT donate 56-year-old EDSAC II computing equipment

EDSAC I replica as it stands todayHyperscale IT, who supply integrated server hardware, also pride ourselves on finding hard-to-source legacy parts. Now, when we say legacy parts, we’re largely referring to server hardware that has gone EOL and needs a memory upgrade, or has blown a power supply etc. But we recently reunited a 56-year-old teleprinter and tape reader with other EDSAC II parts at the National Museum of Computing in Bletchley Park, UK.

The EDSAC (Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator) was the first practical, general purpose, stored program electronic computer, i.e. it was not dedicated to a single task. The machine was created by Maurice Wilkes and his team at Cambridge University Mathematical Department as it was then.

EDSAC I replica shelf

Replicating EDSAC

Since 2011 dedicated volunteers at the National Museum of Computing have been building a replica of the pioneering EDSAC I as it was back in 1951. Very little survives of either generation of EDSAC that were in service between 1949 and 1965. Nearly all of the replica is just that and has literally been reproduced from pictures and a few diagrams, which is an impressive feat. Only one shelf is known to exist from the original and that had to be repatriated from the USA. Parts of the replica were already powered up back in 2014 and work is still ongoing to perfect it.

Hyperscale IT were able to donate a teleprinter and paper tape reader to the project after discovering the items in a loft. The tape reader is only one of three made and they are all now accounted for. Tape reading can be seen in action on the Cambridge University website in this photo.

The museum also has a comprehensive range of computers that span the decades between the early computing pioneers and the modern day, including a section on air traffic control systems.

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