List of vacuum tube computers

Vacuum tube computers, now termed first generation computers,[1] are programmable digital computers using vacuum tube logic circuitry. They were preceded by systems using electromechanical relays and followed by systems built from discrete transistors. Later entries in this list may have been built using transistors in addition to vacuum tubes.

This is a list of vacuum tube computers, arranged by date put into service:

Atanasoff–Berry Computer1942Not programmable, could solve a system of linear equations
Colossus1943First programmable (by switches and plug panels) special-purpose (cryptanalysis) electronic digital computer. Used to break the German Lorenz cipher. Working replica demonstrated daily at The National Museum of Computing, Bletchley Park.
ENIAC1945First large-scale general-purpose programmable electronic digital computer. Built by the University of Pennsylvania's Moore School of Electrical Engineering for the U.S. Army's Ballistic Research Laboratory. Originally programmed by wiring together components, later converted to a form of stored-program operation.
Manchester Baby1948First electronic stored-program computer, worked June 1948; prototype for the Mark 1. Working replica demonstrated daily in Manchester Museum of Science and Industry
Manchester Mark 11949Provided a computing service from April 1949. First index registers. Replaced in 1951 by Ferranti Mark 1.
EDSAC1949First ran on 6 May 1949, and provided a computing service for Cambridge University until 1958. Working replica currently being built at The National Museum of Computing, Bletchley Park. Scheduled to go live in 2018.
BINAC1949First stored-program computer to be sold, but did not work for customer.
CSIRAC1949Oldest surviving complete first-generation electronic computer — unrestored and non-functional.
SEAC1950First U.S. stored-program computer to become operational. Built by and for the U.S. National Bureau of Standards. Used solid-state diode circuits for its logic. Several computers were based on the SEAC design.
SWAC1950Built for the U.S.'s National Bureau of Standards, it had 2,300 vacuum tubes. It had 256 words (each 37 bits) of memory, using Williams tubes
ERA Atlas1950(Military version of Univac 1101) Used 2,700 vacuum tubes for its logic circuits
MADDIDA1950Special-purpose digital computer for solving a system of differential equations. Forty-four integrators were implemented using a magnetic drum with six storage tracks. The interconnections of the integrators were specified by writing an appropriate pattern of bits onto one of the tracks.
Pilot ACE1950Based on a full-scale design by Alan Turing
Elliott 1521950Naval fire control computer, real-time control system, fixed program
Harvard Mark III1951It used 5,000 vacuum tubes and 1,500 crystal diodes
Ferranti Mark 11951First commercially available computer, based on Manchester Mark 1.
EDVAC1951The successor to ENIAC, and also built by the University of Pennsylvania's Moore School of Electrical Engineering for the U.S. Army's Ballistic Research Laboratory. One of the first stored-program computers to be designed, but its entry into service was delayed. EDVAC's design influenced a number of other computers.
Harwell Dekatron Computer1951Now officially the oldest original working computer in the world. Is frequently demonstrated at The National Museum of Computing, Bletchley Park.
Whirlwind1951Parallel logic, approx 5,000 vacuum tubes. First use of core memory.
UNIVAC I1951Mass-produced. 46 were made.
LEO I1951First computer for commercial applications. Built by J. Lyons and Co. restaurant and bakery chain. Based on EDSAC design.
UNIVAC 11011951Designed by ERA, Used 2,700 vacuum tubes for its logic circuits
Hollerith Electronic Computer (HEC)1951Initial design by Andrew Donald Booth, then engineered by British Tabulating Machine Company. HEC 1 can be seen at The National Museum of Computing, Bletchley Park.
IAS machine1951Built at the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS), sometimes called the von Neumann machine, since design was described by John von Neumann (the Von Neumann architecture). 1,500 tubes. It was the basis of about 15 other computers.
MESM1951Built near Kiev, used 6,000 vacuum tubes. First universally programmable computer in USSR. Designed basically near to Von Neumann architecture but had two separate banks of memory - one for programs and another for data
Remington Rand 4091952Built by Remington Rand, it was a punched card calculator programmed by a plugboard
Harvard Mark IV1952built by Harvard University under the supervision of Howard Aiken for the United States Air Force
G11952Built by the Max Planck Institute for Physics in Göttingen, esp. by Heinz Billing[2][3][4]
ORDVAC1952Built by the University of Illinois for the Ballistic Research Laboratory and was a twin of the ILLIAC I
ILLIAC I1952Built by the University of Illinois in Urbana
MANIAC I1952Built at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory and based on the IAS computer
IBM 7011952Built by IBM, also known as the Defense Calculator, based on the IAS computer
BESM-1, BESM-21952Built in the Soviet Union
Bull Gamma 31952Made by Groupe Bull and contained almost 400 tubes.[5][6][7]
AVIDAC1953Based on the IAS computer
FLAC1953Design based on SEAC. Located at Patrick Air Force Base.
JOHNNIAC1953Built by the RAND Corporation, based on the IAS computer
IBM 7021953Built by IBM for business computing
UNIVAC 11031953Designed by Engineering Research Associates (ERA)
RAYDAC1953Built by Raytheon for Naval Air Missile Test Center
Strela computer1953Built in the Soviet Union
Datatron1954Commercial computer built by ElectroData Corporation
IBM 6501954The world's first mass-produced computer
IBM 7041954The first mass-produced computer with floating-point arithmetic hardware for scientific use
IBM 7051954Mostly compatible with the IBM 702, for business use. There is one that is not in operating condition at Computermuseum München.
BESK1954 AprilSweden's first computer and was the fastest computer in the world for a brief time
IBM NORC1954 DecBuilt by IBM for the US Navy Bureau of Ordnance, it was the first supercomputer and the most powerful computer in the world for at least 2 years. 9,800 tubes in logic.
UNIVAC 11021954A variation of the UNIVAC 1101 built for the US Air Force
DYSEAC1954Built by the U.S. National Bureau of Standards as an improved version of SEAC. Mounted in a trailer van, making it the first computer to be transportable.
WISC1954Built by the University of Wisconsin–Madison
REAC 400 (C-400)[8]1955[9]In 1961 REAC installed for $60,000 at University of Minnesota.[10] General purpose electronic analog computer.[9]
CALDIC1955Designed to be inexpensive and simple to use; it used decimal arithmetic
English Electric DEUCE1955A commercial version of the Pilot ACE
Zuse Z221955An early commercial computer.
ERMETH[11][12]1955[13]Built by Eduard Stiefel, Heinz Rutishauser, Ambros Speiser at the ETH Zurich
HEC 4 (ICT 1200 series)1955Built by Andrew Booth
WEIZAC1955Built by the Weizmann Institute of Science (Israel) under the guidance of Prof. G. Estrin. First computer designed in the Middle East.
G21955Built by the Max Planck Institute for Physics in Göttingen, esp. by Heinz Billing[2][3][4]
Axel Wenner-Gren ALWAC III-E1955Commercially constructed and installed (in 1957) at University of British Columbia and Oregon State University (then College)[14]
IBM 305 RAMAC1956The first commercial computer to use a moving-head hard-disk drive for secondary storage
PERM1956Built in Munich
D11956Built by Joachim Lehmann at the TU Dresden[15]
SMIL1956Built in Sweden and based on the IAS computer
Bendix G-151956A small computer for scientific and industrial purposes by the Bendix Corporation. It had a total of about 450 tubes (mostly dual triodes) and 300 germanium diodes.
TIFR Pilot Machine1956TIFRAC (Tata Institute of Fundamental Research Automatic Calculator) was the first computer developed in India, at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai.
LGP-301956Data-processing system made by Librascope; bit-serial drum machine with only 113 tubes, along with 1450 diodes[16]
UNIVAC 1103A1956First computer to have hardware interrupts
FUJIC1956The first electronic computer in Japan, designed to perform calculations for lens design by Fuji
Ferranti Pegasus1956Vacuum tube computer with magnetostrictive delay line memory intended for office usage. Second surviving oldest computer in the world.[17]
SILLIAC1956Built at the University of Sydney, based on the ILLIAC and ORDVAC
RCA BIZMAC1956RCA's first commercial computer, it contained 25,000 tubes
Ural series1956–1964Ural-1 to Ural-4.
DASK1957The first computer in Denmark; had an early implementation of ALGOL
UNIVAC 11041957A 30-bit variation of the UNIVAC 1103
Ferranti Mercury1957An early commercial vacuum tube computer by Ferranti, with core memory and hardware floating point capability
IBM 6101957A small computer designed to be used by one person with limited experience
MANIAC II1957Built by the University of California and the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory
MISTIC1957A Michigan State University based on the ILLIAC I
MUSASINO-11957A Japanese computer based on the ILLIAC I
MMIF1957MMIF or Machine mathématique IRSIA-FNRS, devised by a team funded by the Belgian public institutions IRSIA and FNRS, and build at the Bell Telephone Mfg Co in Antwerp, from 1952. In use 1957–1958 in Antwerp, 1958–1959 in Brussels.[18]
Sandia RAYPAC (Ray Path Analog Computer)c.1957Sandia's Blast Prediction Unit used for Operation Teapot[19]
EDSAC 21958First computer to have a microprogrammed control unit and a bit slice hardware architecture.
IBM 7091958An improved version of the IBM 704
UNIVAC II1958An improved, fully compatible version of the UNIVAC I
UNIVAC 11051958A follow-up to the UNIVAC 1103 scientific computer
AN/FSQ-71958Largest vacuum tube computer ever built. 52 were built for Project SAGE.
ZEBRA1958Designed in Holland and built by Britain's Standard Telephones and Cables[20]
Ferranti Perseus1959[21][22][23]
Rice Institute Computer1959Operational 1959-1971, 54-bit tagged architecture
Cyclone1959IAS-type computer at Iowa State College
DERA1959Built by Alwin Walther at the Technical University of Darmstadt; first operative in 1957, development completed in 1959
D2 1959 Built by Joachim Lehmann at the TU Dresden[24]
TIFRAC1960The first computer developed in India
CER-101960The first computer developed in Yugoslavia, it also used some transistors
Philips PASCAL / STEVIN1960Philips Automatic Sequence Calculator; 1200 valves, 10000 transistors, and 15000 germanium diodes. PASCAL and STEVIN (Dutch: Snel Tel En Vermenigvuldig INstrument, lit. 'Fast Count and Multiply Instrument') are identical, except input-output equipment. Both were used internally.[25][26][27]
The Wegematic 10001960Improved version of the ALWAC III-E[28]
Odra 10011960First computer built by Elwro, Wroclaw, Poland
G31961Built by the Max Planck Institute for Physics in Göttingen, esp. by Heinz Billing[2]
Sumlock ANITA calculator1961Desktop calculator
UMC-11962Developed in Poland, it used the unusual negabinary number system internally
BRLESC19621,727 tubes and 853 transistors
OSAGE1963Close copy of the Rice Institute Computer built at the University of Oklahoma

See also


  1. Hsu, John Y. (December 21, 2017). Computer Architecture: Software Aspects, Coding, and Hardware. CRC Press. p. 4. ISBN 142004110X. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  2. "The G1, G2, and G3 of Billing in Göttingen".
  3. Research, United States Office of Naval (1953). A survey of automatic digital computers. Office of Naval Research, Dept. of the Navy. pp. 37–38.
  4. technikum29-Team. "A first generation tube calculator: BULL GAMMA 3 - technikum29". Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  5. Tatnall, Arthur; Blyth, Tilly; Johnson, Roger (December 6, 2013). Making the History of Computing Relevant: IFIP WG 9.7 International Conference, HC 2013, London, UK, June 17-18, 2013, Revised Selected Papers. Springer. p. 124. ISBN 9783642416507.
  6. Research, United States Office of Naval (1953). A survey of automatic digital computers. Office of Naval Research, Dept. of the Navy. p. 39.
  7. "COMPUTER COLLECTOR - Reeves REAC 400 Analog Computer (1957)". Retrieved June 1, 2018.
  8. "REL-REEVES, INC., successor to Dynamics Corporation of America v. The UNITED STATES v. DIGITAL RESOURCES CORPORATION, Third-Party Defendant. -- Rel-Reeves, Inc. v. United States, 534 F.2d 274, 274 (1976)". ¶19, ¶194-195, ¶217. Retrieved June 1, 2018.
  9. "UDEC I II III : Unitized Digital Electronic Calculator Models I II and III". Retrieved April 26, 2017.
  10. Trueb, Lucien F. (2015). Astonishing the Wild Pigs: Highlights of Technology. ATHENA-Verlag. pp. 141–142. ISBN 9783898967662.
  11. "10 brilliant things to discover at the new-look Museum of Communication". Time Out Switzerland. 9. Discover the Datacenter.
  12. "Computer Science Research at ETH".
  13. Törn, Aimo (December 1, 2000). "Wegematic 1000". Early History of Computing in Turku, 1959-1964. Åbo Akademi (University). Retrieved August 11, 2016.
  14. Ludwig, Manfred (2007). "Das Leben und Wirken von Prof. N. J. Lehmann" [The life and work of Prof. N.J. Lehmann]. pp. 7–11.
  15. LGP 30, technikum 29: Living Museum
  16. Pegasus at the V&A, Computer Conservation Society, June 2016, retrieved August 29, 2016
  17. d’Udekem-Gevers, Marie (2011). La Machine mathématique IRSIA-FNRS (1946-1962) (in French). Brussels: Académie royale de Belgique. ISBN 978-2-8031-0280-8.
  18. Operation Teapot: Report of the Test Manager (Report). p. 68.
  19. "Computer History Museum - Standard Telephones and Cables Limted, London - Stantec Zebra Electronic Digital Computer". Retrieved April 24, 2017.
  20. Lavington, Simon Hugh (1980). Early British Computers: The Story of Vintage Computers and the People who Built Them. Manchester University Press. p. 78. ISBN 9780719008108.
  21. Information, Reed Business (March 5, 1959). "To compute Swedish premiums". New Scientist. Reed Business Information. p. 517.
  22. . 195904.pdf. "REFERENCE INFORMATION: A Survey of British Digital Computers (Part 2) - Perseus". Computers and Automation. 8 (4): 34. April 1959.CS1 maint: others (link)
  23. Ludwig 2007, p. 11-15.
  24. Beer, Huub de (February 26, 2008). "Heer de—Computers en Philips" [Heer de—Computers and Philips]. (in Dutch). Google translation. Amsterdam. Retrieved July 13, 2018.
  25. . 196004.pdf. "REFERENCE INFORMATION: Survey of European Computers, Part 3 (Concluding Part)". Computers and Automation. 9 (4): 26. April 1960.CS1 maint: others (link)
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