The CSIRAC Computer collection consists of over 300 objects, over 300 images and over 1000 documents relating to the CSIRAC computer. First run in 1949 and fully operational by 1951 CSIRAC was the first stored memory digital electronic computer in Australia and the fourth in the world.
Its significance comes from its pioneering contribution to software development and computer training; and its computation of scientific, industrial and business problems in Australia. In addition, CSIRAC is now the only remaining and intact first generation computer in the world, as a result its components, peripheral equipment and Archive are today unique artefacts from this early period of computing.
CSIRAC’s first home was the CSIR (later CSIRO) Radiophysics Laboratory in Sydney. In 1955 the computer was transferred to the University of Melbourne where renamed CSIRAC it continued in operation until November 1964. In March 1965 CSIRAC was donated to the National Museum’s Institute of Applied Science Victoria (now Museum Victoria). The museum has continued collecting objects, images, documents and oral histories relating to CSIRAC to further enhance the collection.
The collection is composed of two key parts CSIRAC’s hardware and related equipment and the CSIRAC archive. The hardware collection is complete and includes: cabinets, paper tape reading, writing and editing equipment, control console, test equipment, disk drive and miscellaneous components.
The CSIRAC archive contains material documenting the computer from its conception in the late 1940s to its decommissioning in 1964. The archive includes: 458 paper tape reels comprising CSIRAC's complete software library, CDs containing programs read from paper tapes, program documentation, programming manuals, documents relating to courses, annual reports, plans for the Laboratory, staff information, published papers and reports, and correspondence, original photographs, film footage, oral histories, engineering drawings and some miscellaneous objects.
In 1996 the University of Melbourne established the CSIRAC History Project which resulted in members of the CSIRAC History Team working closely with Museum Victoria staff in the documentation of the CSIRAC collection and the development of the CSIRAC exhibition at Melbourne Museum.
The comprehensive nature of the CSIRAC collection enhances the story of how CSIRAC operated, and provides important display objects that enable the public to access the themes surrounding CSIRAC.
Calculating Devices, Climate Modelling, Computer Accessories, Computer Components, Computer Engineering, Computer Hardware, Computer Programming, Computer Software, Computers, Computing, Computing Technology, CSIRAC (Computer), Digital Computers, First Generation Computers, Mainframe Computers, Paper Tapes, Scientific Research, Thermionic Electron Valves, Universities