The EDSAC Replica Project

Speaker  Andrew Herbert

Duration  01:05:17

Date recorded  19 November 2013

The aim of the EDSAC Replica Project is to build a fully functional replica of the Cambridge University Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Computer (EDSAC) as it was when it ran it’s first programs in 1949. Built by a team led by M.V. Wilkes, EDSAC was the world’s first practical electronic digital computer providing a computing service to the university as a whole. Three Nobel Prizes were attributed to the giant leap in computing power that EDSAC delivered to Cambridge scientists.

Andrew will describe EDSAC and its principles of operation, showing what is possible in a machine that can only obey 5-600 instructions a second and has just 512 of store, but which is not weighed down with the volume of code required by a modern operating system or programming language. He will then go on to describe the challenges in replicating 1940’s technology in the 21st Century and some of the ways in which modern computers are helping in the task.

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