Celebrating the reboot of WITCH

News Jan 7, 2013

The world’s oldest working digital computer has been brought back to life

It’s taken three years of hard work, but thanks to The National Museum of Computing (TNMOC), the Harwell Dekatron computer was rebooted on 20th November to take its rightful place as the world’s oldest original working digital computer.

The computer, otherwise known as WITCH, is now in its seventh decade and its fifth home and it’s sure to be a big draw for school visits and the public alike. The 2.5-ton, 1951 computer has 828 flashing Dekatron valves, 480 relays and a bank of paper tape readers and it clanked its way back to life in front of a couple of the original designers, plus one of its first ever users.

The project to restore the old fella, which was once used to automate calculations otherwise carried out on mechanical hand calculators, has taken three years after it was found in storage by volunteers from TNMOC. You can take a look at the Harwell Dekatron/WITCH computer for yourself by visiting The Museum – www.tnmoc.org/visit is the place to find opening times.