The Witch reborn – 1950s computer given a new lease on life


The two and a half tonne Witch, which stands for Wolverhampton Instrument for Teaching Computing from Harwell, is one of the oldest working digital computers and is one that has been neglected for 15 years. Thanks to a chance rediscovery it has been restored and will be going on display at the The National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire.

The ancient – in computing terms – tech is set to be unveiled today at the The National Museum of Computing and some of its creators as well as students who learned to program on the device will be in attendance.

The Witch was initially used by scientists at the UK’s Atomic Energy Research Establishment in Harwell. The computer was first turned on in 1951, becoming obsolete in 1957 and retired from active service.

Originally known as the Harwell Dekatron, the Witch nickname was assigned after it was loaned to the Wolverhampton and Staffordshire Technical College as an aid to teaching programming. It then spent some time on display at the Museum of Science in Birmingham before being put into storage for 15 years, where it was rediscovered by National Museum of Computing trustee Kevin Murrell.

Source: BBC


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