Flossie, the first mass-produced business computer, is rescued
(M2 PressWIRE Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) One of the first mass-produced business computers has been rescued from the scrapheap for the third time in its 50-year history. The ICT 1301, also known as Flossie, has just arrived for storage at The National Museum of Computing where plans are being made to bring it back to life and put it on display when space permits.
The huge machine, weighing 5.5 tons and with a footprint of about 6 metres by 7 metres, arrived in three container lorries at TNMOC's new storage facility in Milton Keynes. Built in 1962 by the company that was to become ICT (International Computers and Tabulators), Flossie was the first of more than 150 ICT 1301s that were delivered for use in commercial and public organisations. In Senate House at the University of London it was used for general accounting, administration, and for the production something that may be in the personal files of many 60-somethings: GCE examination results for candidates in England and Wales.
Kevin Murrell, TNMOC Trustee, explained the place of the machine in the history of computing: "The ICT 1301 marks a transition from simply knowing how to build computers, to being able to install one in almost any office without needing special facilities. It had a fixed layout and all it required was enough space and reasonable air-conditioning, whereas earlier computers required special features such as false floors for cabling. "The ICT 1301 was ready for work! It transformed data processing in many businesses and used punched cards, magnetic tape reels and built-in printers." Rod Brown, custodian of Flossie for the past decade, said: "Flossie has had an extraordinary life -- or more precisely four lives. After it was decommissioned at the University of London in about 1972, it was purchased at scrap metal prices by a group of students who ran an accounting bureau for about five years. They then advertised it in Amateur Computer Club Magazine and it was bought -- again at scrap metal value. After languishing for a period in a barn in Kent, it was restored with the help of the Computer Conservation Society. Visitors could then come and see, smell, and feel the vibrations of a remarkable 1960's computer.
"Last year, Flossie was again at risk of being scrapped, but thanks to The National Museum of Computing the machine is safe again. The team and I are delighted with this news -- especially because TNMOC has such an outstanding track record of restoring computers and maintaining them in full working order. We look forward to the day that it can go back on display." The ICT 1301s were used by a wide range of companies and organisations including insurance companies, Selfridges, and the Milk Marketing Board.
Most were superseded in the 1970s by machines such as the ICL 1900 mainframes. Thanks to their stunning design, some ICT 1301s took on another role in the 1970s and 1980s. They will be familiar to many film buffs, having appeared in the James Bond film, The Man with the Golden Gun, Blake's 7, The Pink Panther, and Doctor Who.
Only three other ICT 1301s are known to exist today, but Flossie is the only one ever likely to work again.
ICT 1301 Fact File
A second Generation Early British Design, implemented by Computer Developments Limited for ICT (International Computers and Tabulators) which became ICL (International Computers Ltd). Designer: Dr R Bird. He started the project in mid 1958.
Translation of design to a working machine by GEC at Coventry, using Early British Germanium transistors. More than 150 built.
First customer delivered machine, serial No 6, Flossie to London University at Senate House in 1962. This design developed into the 1302 a realtime multiprogram system which became one of the foundation blocks of the ICT 1900 range
Floor footprint: 25 foot by 25 ft area.
Max configuration weight: 5.5 Tons
Power Consumption : max 13kw of three phase power, idle 6.2kw
Number of Logic PCBs: just over 4 thousand plus 1
Single Valve Number of transistors: over 16 thousand
Number of Logic bays: 22
Internal Speed: 1mhz by 4 bits = 4mhz data rate.
Number of bits per word: 48 + parity ( format = Hexadecimal )
Number of Bytes in main ( core ) store: 12,000
Number of Bytes on a single drum Store: 72,000
Max Number of drums: 8
Integrated Card Reader: 600, 80 column cards per min
Integrated Line Printer: 600 lines per min by 120 print positions
Integrated Card Punch: 100, 80 column cards per min
Additional Paper tape reader: 1,000 chars per second
Magnetic tape (as fitted ): approx 10 mega byte per reel
Max number of magnetic tape decks: 8
Plus ability by software to drive any single ICT 1900 device
Number of indicator lights on console: 252
Number of relays to switch power: over 24 website for more info www. ict1301.co.uk
About The National Museum of Computing
The National Museum of Computing, located at Bletchley Park, is an independent charity housing the world's largest collection of functional historic computers, including a rebuilt Colossus, the worlds first electronic computer, and the WITCH, the world's oldest working digital computer. The Museum enables visitors to follow the development of computing from the ultra-secret pioneering efforts of the 1940s through the large systems and mainframes of the 1950s, 60s and 70s, and the rise of personal computing in the 1980s and beyond.
A recent pledge by an individual benefactor of 1 million if matched funding is found means that every pound or dollar donated to the Museum will count double. Previous funders of the Museum have included Bletchley Park Capital Partners, CreateOnline, Ceravision, InsightSoftware.com, Google UK, PGP Corporation, IBM, NPL, HP Labs, BCS, and 4Links.
The Museum is currently open to the public on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 1pm, and on summer Bank Holidays. Guided tours are also available at 2.30pm on Tuesdays. There are often additional opening times for the public -- see the website or the iPhone app for updates. Educational and corporate groups are very welcome and may be on any day or evening by prior arrangement.
For more information, see www.tnmoc.org and follow @tnmoc on Twitter and The National Museum of Computing on Facebook and Google+. A TNMOC iPhone App is also now available from the iPhone App Store.
Media Contacts Stephen Fleming Palam Communications t +44 (0) 1635 299116 e firstname.lastname@example.org
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