The Null Device

Australia's first digital computer and the oldest existing example of its type, the valve-powered behemoth CSIRAC, now has a permanent home at the Melbourne Museum. Built in 1949, CSIRAC consumed 30 kilowatts, and was less powerful than a modern pocket calculator, though achieved some impressive things for its day. Apparently -- or so I heard from a retired academic -- it was shut down in 1964 after the Foreign Office in London had a word to the local powers that be, sternly informing them that Australia has no business doing research not related to primary industry (i.e. mining or farming).

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