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British scientists restore the world’s oldest digital computer to perfect working order

Computers and electronics don’t really age well. Once small components get damaged, it’s not like you can give them a spit shine and shove them back in. But scientists in Britiain have managed to restore a computer called the WITCH (Wolverhampton Instrument for Teaching Computation) from 1951, back to perfect working order. Not an easy feat at all.

The project to restore the WITCH was done at the National Museum of Computing (TNMOC) at Bletchley Park in the UK, and has been going on since 2008. Originally, the computer was housed at the Harwell Atomic Energy Research Establishment where it performed menial computations from 1951 to 1957. Then it was moved to Wolverhampton and Staffordshire Technical College after they won a competition for coming up with the best educational use for the machine. The WITCH served as an educational tool at the college until 1973. After that it appeared briefly as a museum display, but was then packed up for storage where it remained until the museum uncovered it.

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