decades of fun

World?s Oldest Digital Computer Resurrected

“The Witch” is back.?‘The Witch?: World?s Oldest Digital Computer Resurrected.

I think this video story misses some key historical points. In the late 1930’s you probably know there was some serious war action popping off. Germany and Japan were making their moves, and the side with the Brits, American, & Russians were very busy responding. The need for more calculations than an army of nerds with notebooks could provide quickly, so as to build bigger and cheaper bombs and drop them closer to their targets, advanced the designing and building of huge automated-calculators.


Running scenarios and models all night with no human error, no exhaustion, and no outside?coercion?possible was the draw. The Germans were well stocked with IBM (american) counting machines and some very advanced early digital calculators of their own design called Zuse. The Brits and Americans had two early computers (Colossus and ENIAC, respectively) and were working sorta-together to design new machines. Combine this with the encryption/decryption battle raging between Germans and Poles (early software hacking) and you have the birth of the modern computer age.

[That’s right, the friendly computing device you are reading this from can be tracked back to humans needing faster ways to kill people. Fun?]

The first real computer as we know it (a machine?that could run multiple stored programs) was finally invented around 1949. They were still as big as a room, but could now accept a program along with it’s data and return results, and then load up another program to run without a complete rebuild.

This is where the computer in the video profile fits in. It crunched numbers (albiet slowly) for atomic models/programs through the early 50’s then was replaced by faster hardware, just like all of it’s?brethren?since. Ah, progress. But before you laugh at the old folks just remember that they cruised the space shuttle around the planet with less computing power than the 1st iPhone, and they walked on the moon with less total computing power than a Pentium 1. I doubt we could do either anymore.