13 Absurdly Massive Early Computers

Technology from the days when bigger meant better.

1. 1944

Engineer John von Neumann stands with the Harvard Mark I, an electromechanical computer.

ID: 1284804

2. 1944

British code breakers used The Colossus to decrypt coded German messages at the end of World War II.

ID: 1284688

3. 1946

ENIAC, the world’s first general-purpose computer, weighed 27 tons. Among other things, the so-called “Giant Brain” was used for calculations for the development of the hydrogen bomb.

ID: 1284693

4. 1949

Analog Computing Machine, an early version of the modern computer, is located in the then-Engine Research Building at the Lewis Flight Propulsion Laboratory in Cleveland, Ohio, which is now part of NASA.

ID: 1276310

5. 1951

Harwell’s 1951 model called The WITCH was short for Wolverhampton Instrument for Teaching Computing.

ID: 1284704

6. 1951

Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Whirlwind incorporated 4,500 vacuum tubes, 14,800 diodes, and took up 3,100 square feet of floor space.

ID: 1284818

7. 1954

IBM’s Naval Ordnance Research Calculator could perform 15,000 operations per second, making it the most powerful computer of its time.

ID: 1284725

8. 1957

Norwich City Council’s first computer is delivered to the City Treasurer’s Department. Elliott Brothers was an early UK computer company.

ID: 1276595

9. 1956

IBM 305 RAMAC. Each of those massive towers is a hard disk drive holding a whopping 5MB of data.

ID: 1284738

10. 1956

The Bendix G-15 cost around $60,000.

ID: 1284739

11. 1961

The IBM 7080

ID: 1284840

12. 1962

BRLESC I had 4096 72-bit words of memory, the equivalent of 36k.

ID: 1284763

13. 1964

UNIVAC 1108 stored a then scarcely imaginable 1MB of data.

ID: 1284765

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Luke Lewis is the executive editor of BuzzFeed UK and is based in London.
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