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Computer - CSIRAC, 1949-1964 Object Reg. No: HT 20756

CSIRAC computer. 768 words storage in mercury delay lines, 20 bit words.

Comprises racks, printers, storage delay lines, paper tape readers and punches.

CSIRAC (previously CSIR Mark 1) computer was designed by Trevor Pearcey and Maston Beard at the Division of Radiophysics in 1947. Construction was commenced in 1948 and the first program was run in 1949. In 1956 it was moved to the University of Melbourne Computation Laboratory.

CSIRAC at Melbourne consisted of two rows of cabinets, a control console, input and output devices, test equipment and an off-line paper tape editing area. There were nine cabinets, five in the front row and four in the back. Cool air was blown up through all the cabinets from the basement below. The auxiliary memory (disk drive) occupied the space that would have been occupied by a cabinet in the back row.

The five front row cabinets contained (from left to right viewed from the front) power supplies, input and output circuitry, clock and control circuits, arithmetical circuits and memory control circuits. The four back row cabinets contained (from left to right viewed from the front) power supplies, auxiliary store control circuits, 'disk drive', auxiliary test power supplies and memory control circuits.

The date range (1949-1964) is given to indicate that changes were made to the structure and circuitry over the period of CSIRAC's working life.

CSIRAC is on the Victorian Heritage Register, Number H2217.
Statement Of Significance:
CSIRAC was the fourth stored program computer in the world and the first one in Australia. It is the only intact first generation computer left on the planet.
Acquisition Information:
Donation from Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), 1965
Discipline: Technology

More information

Tagged with: computing, csirac001, computer, making history - csirac
Themes this item is part of: CSIRAC & the Radiophysics Laboratory - A Brief History, Reginald Ryan - Interview, 8 April 1999, The first 24 hour weather forecast in the Southern Hemisphere (1958) - a CSIRAC program briefly described, The significance of CSIRAC, 1949 - 1964, Conservation Policy for CSIRAC exhibition 2004, CSIRAC - Input & Output Devices, Trevor Pearcey, 1919 - 1998: a brief biography, History of CSIRAC - the first computer in Australia, 1949-1964, Trevor Pearcey & the First Australian Computer: A Lost Opportunity?, 'After CSIRAC: A Non-User's View', 1970-2000, Farewell to CSIRAC, Use of Semiconductors in CSIRAC, Information & Communication Collection, CSIRAC Collection, Trevor Pearcey, Computer Engineer & CSIRAC Specialist (1919-1998)
Primary Classification: COMPUTING & CALCULATING
Secondary Classification: Digital Computing
Tertiary Classification: mainframes
Designer: Dr Trevor Pearcey, Mount Eliza, Victoria, Australia, 1947-1949
Designer: Mr Maston Beard, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1947-1949
Commissioned By: Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1947
User: University of Melbourne (The), Parkville, Victoria, Australia, 1955-1964
References: http://museumvictoria.com.au/csirac/
  1. [Book], Mr Peter Thorne, Dr Doug McCann, The Last of the First CSIRAC: Australia's First Computer, University of Melbourne (The) Computer Science & Software Engineering Department, Melbourne, 2000
  2. [Book], Mr Paul Doornbusch - University of Melbourne (The) Computer Science Department, the music of csirac, Common Ground Publishing, Australia, Melbourne, 2005

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