The ACS joined Ministers, universities and IT professionals last week in marking 60 years since the first computer came to Victoria.
A week of events were used as the avenue for commemorating the anniversary of CSIRAC’s arrival and start of operation in Melbourne on June 14, 1956.
Australia’s only computer at the time, it had spent several years in service for CSIRO in Sydney before being moved to Melbourne and relaunched as CSIRAC.
It ran until 1964 and is now in the Melbourne Museum. The University of Melbourne – which played host to CSIRAC until it was retired – said it remains “the oldest computer in the world that is still intact”.
University of Melbourne’s head of the department of computing and information systems, Professor Justin Zobel, said that CSIRAC “could run at about 1000 instructions per second and could store just a few kilobytes”.
“A computer today of similar size and power consumption would be almost a supercomputer – a billion times faster and with perhaps a trillion times as much storage,” Zobel said.
“In its lifetime of 14 years of operation, CSIRAC undertook about as much computation as a smartphone can complete in a minute.
“This seemed miraculous to the users at the time, as it provided automation of processes in ways that had previously been inconceivable.”
Zobel said that while computers have changed “immeasurably” over the years since CSIRAC, “many of the underlying skills of computing professionals are much the same” as they were 60 years ago.
A number of prominent ICT professionals attended the 60th anniversary events, including ANZ CTO Patrick Maes, ACS Victorian chair Craig Horne and ACS Women Victorian chair Maria Markman.
— ACS Victorian Chair (@ACS_Vic_Chair) June 14, 2016
— Patrick Maes (@DrsPatrickMaes) June 17, 2016
— Sue Hogg (@planetsuzie) June 16, 2016
— Pearcey Foundation (@Pearcey_org) June 17, 2016
This latest 60th celebration by contrast marked just the machine’s time in Victoria.