An original part of one of the UK’s pioneering computers has been found in the US.
The part is a significant chunk of Edsac – a machine built at Cambridge in the late 1940s to serve scientists at the university.
It came to light because of publicity surrounding an effort to rebuild the computer.
The part has now been donated to the rebuild project and will be incorporated into the finished machine.
Edsac, the Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator, ran its first programs in May 1949 and through its working life aided many scientists by analysing data generated by many different experiments.
Before now, it had not been known what happened to the parts of Edsac after it was decommissioned and dismantled in the 1950s.
The uncovering of the part, called the Chassis 1A, solved part of that riddle, said Dr Andrew Herbert who is leading the reconstruction project at the National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park.
It now appears that at the end of Edsac’s life it was sold off in an auction but it is not known who bought all the parts.”Details of the ‘auction’ are unclear, but there is a possibility that other parts of the original Edsac still exist and could even be in the Cambridge area stored away in lofts, garden sheds and garages,” said Mr Herbert.