Harwell computer makes Guinness book of records

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A HISTORIC calculator has been recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s oldest working digital computer.

The Harwell Dekatron was built for the Atomic Energy Research Establishment and first ran in 1951.

It is now based at the National Museum of Computing in Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire.

In November, Dick Barnes, 92, from Abingdon, and Ted Cooke-Yarborough, from Longworth, near Abingdon, two of the original designers, visited the museum to see the computer switched back on.

The duo were part of a small, pioneering team at Harwell Atomic Energy Research Establishment who created the 2.5-tonne machine.

Experts at the museum said the Dekatron was the oldest computer in the world still to be using its original parts built using components designed for TV and radio sets.

Mr Cooke-Yarborough died following a short illness on January 10 and his funeral took place on January 22 at St Mary’s Church in Longworth.

The computer was at Harwell for six years before being taken to the Wolverhampton and Staffordshire Technical College where it was renamed the WITCH (Wolverhampton Instrument for Teaching Computation from Harwell).

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It was later moved to the Birmingham Museum of Science and Industry.

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