The last surviving, intact, first-generation computer in the world. The 2,000 kilogram CSIR Mk1 was created at the Sydney-based Radiophysics Laboratory of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (now, CSIRO) in 1949. It was dismantled and moved to the University of Melbourne in 1955, where it was renamed CSIRAC and used for over 700 computing projects from June of 1956 to its retirement in June of 1964. It didn't have any transistors in it, and could only hold 2,000 bits of information.

The CSIRAC was used 24 hours a day for calculating solar radiation, predicting weather, checking astronomical data and the stresses in buildings, to name a few. John Spencer used it at night to produce tables showing the position of the sun to assist architects in designing buildings.

Mr. John Spencer was a "user" (his words) who wrote the programs and ran calculations. Mr. Ron Bowles and Mr. Jurij Semkiw were responsible for its maintenance. Trevor Pearcey and Maston Beard were its designers, and Pearcey initiated the project in 1947.

The CSIRAC was switched off and put into storage in 1964. It has a permanent home at the Museum of Victoria, at Carlton Gardens, Melbourne.

From The Melbourne Herald, Friday 15th June 1956:

'. . . When CSIRAC began sporting its musical gifts, we jumped on his first intellectual flaw. When he played "Gaudeamus Igitur," the university anthem, it sounded like a refrigerator defrosting in tune. But then, as Professor Cherry said yesterday, "This machine plays better music than a Wurlitzer can calculate a mathematical problem. . . ."¹


Information from:
Garry Barker, Sydney Morning Herald, 5 January 2001
The CSIRAC site at http://www.cs.mu.oz.au/csirac/ - there is much more information there
The Museum of Victoria - http://www.mov.vic.gov.au

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