Today we think of computers as portable machines that allow us to do everything from video chatting to online banking. However, when computers first hit the scene they were anything but portable, case in point the ICT 1301.
Created in 1960, and first delivered to the University of London in 1962 the first ICT 1301 mainframe was a behemoth. The machine required 700sq ft. (65 square meters) of real estate and weighed over 5 tons. Inside the massive mainframe over 4,000 printed circuit boards chock full of germanium diodes, transistors, resistors, capacitors and various other components processed information for insurance companies, department stores and even the UK’s Milk Marketing Board.
For all of its heft the 1301 had a clock speed of 1Mhz, with 12kb in its main memory. This miniscule memory was backed by 8 magnetic storage drums each containing 72kb.
While the 1301 can’t compare to modern computers, in its day it was a step forward in computer design, due mostly to its lack of an external air conditioning system. Unlike older mainframe models that 1301 didn’t need additional cooling to keep it whirring away.
But why bring up this ancient ancestor of today’s computers?
Well, in the last year The National Museum of Computing in the UK has restored the last ICT 1301 to working order. For those interested in the history of computing you now have the opportunity to peer back to the beginnings of the computer revolution.
Image Courtesy of BNPS