An anonymous reader writes "Sometimes, it's the oldest machines that are the most fascinating. PC & Tech Authority has posted this gallery of photos of the first automatic electronic stored-program computer in Australia and one of the first in the world — CSIRAC. The photos show a machine massive in size — the main system comprised nine steel cabinets containing 2000 valves that weighed over 7000kg. Using valve technology and World War II radar systems as a starting point, the machine was used for various purposes including weather forecasting, forestry, loan repayments and building design. It boasted a 1000Hz memory clock and a serial bus that transferred one bit at a time. The system generated so much heat, cool air needed to be blown up through the cabinets from the basement below. In addition to being Australia's first computer, it is also said to have been the first computer to play digital music anywhere in the world. When CSIRAC was turned off for the last time, a witness described it as 'like something alive dying.'" Museum Victoria has some short but informative pages about CSIRAC, too, including this one about programming the thing, and another about the dangers and annoyances of working on it.
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