But what will it run?

Copyright Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge. Reproduced by permission.

I was intrigued to see in my alumni newsletter a headline saying that a working replica of EDSAC (the first fully-operational stored-programme computer!) is to be rebuilt.

On following the link I was heartened to see a clear (and noble) purpose (“in recognition of the pioneering computer scientists at the University of Cambridge who developed it”). This would probably fit into the category called “create cultural heritage” in our framework of purposes and benefits.

By the end though of the article I was a little disappointed. There is no mention of the software that it’ll run. Has any of the original software been preserved? And in what form? Paper tape? Specifications? A handwritten algorithm in a logbook somewhere? I think we should be told!

A bit of further digging, revealed this, the EDSAC Initial Orders and Squares Program. Hardware to be rebuilt and software preserved – a great, and necessary, combination!