EDSAC computer comes to Bletchley Park

UK's Computer Conservation Society (CCS) has commissioned a working replica of an early British computer, the Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator to be housed at Bletchley Park.

The out-sized calculator was based on John von Neumann's ideas and built by Maurice Wilkes at the University of Cambridge Mathematical Laboratory in 1949. Wikipedia says EDSAC was the first practical stored-program electronic computer, so it must have been.

The working replica of the computer will be displayed at the The National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park, UK's WWII code-breaking centre, made famous last year by a certain Gareth Halfacree, who tried to secure some of persecuted genius Alan Turing's scibblings for the gaff. Of course, no-one had heard of it before then.

Dr David Hartley, chairman of the CCS, admitted to BBC News that he project will rely on a bit of guesswork. "We're building up a good picture of what it was like," he said. "But there comes a point at which we have to guess what was in the designer's mind at the time."

The CCS is asking for help with the project, should anyone have a few bits and pieces lying about in their loft.

The project to re-build the iconic computing machine is to cost around £250,000, which has been raised by a consortium led by computing entrepreneur Hermann Hauser.