[SIGCIS-Members] "CSIRAC: Last Of The First" available in PDF

Brian Randell brian.randell at newcastle.ac.uk
Tue Oct 13 05:37:39 PDT 2015


I note that this book contains an excellent paper by the late Allan Bromley, “The Origin of the Stored Program Concept”  on pp. 87- 96. This paper - which I do not recall ever having seen before - is one of the, if not the, best accounts of this concept that I’ve come across.


Brian Randell

On 13 Oct 2015, at 03:00, Justin Zobel <jzobel at unimelb.edu.au<mailto:jzobel at unimelb.edu.au>> wrote:

CSIRAC, one of the first computers built, was documented in the book the Last Of The First (McCann and Thorne, 2000), a comprehensive overview of the machine itself, its history, and how it was used. This book, published by the University of Melbourne, has just been made freely available as a PDF from http://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/2155137.

Originally designed and built in Sydney as the CSIR Mk1 in 1947-49, it was one of the first few stored-instruction computers, and as far as we know is the oldest computer that is still substantially intact; it is a permanent exhibit at Museum Victoria in Melbourne, Australia. It was relocated to Melbourne in 1955 and relaunched as CSIRAC in 1956, where it operated until 1964. Since then it has been preserved and documented by a dedicated team, including several of its original users; over the last decade, the core of this team was Judith Hughes, Jurij Semkiw (the engineer who assembled it on arrival in Melbourne in 1955), John Spencer (dec. 2014), and Peter Thorne.

The Melbourne Museum maintains information about CSIRAC at http://museumvictoria.com.au/melbournemuseum/whatson/current-exhibitions/csirac/. You can also read about CSIRAC on our web pages, http://www.cis.unimelb.edu.au/about/csirac/ – and you can listen to examples of the very first computer music, played by the CSIR Mk1 in a public exhibition in 1951.

Justin Zobel
Head, Department of Computing & Information Systems
University of Melbourne
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