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Book Sections Year : 2012

Australia’s WREDAC – ItWas Rocket Science


From 1950 Australia’s Long Range Weapons Establishment took steps into an almost unknown future. Building on a tiny bit of experience John Ovenstone addressed a deepening problem with calculations and defined an automatic computing machine. Elliott Brothers used their electronics expertise and bent their efforts from developing their first commercial computer to fill Ovenstone’s order. As LRWE became the Weapons Research Establishment, the ELLIOTT 403 digital automatic computer became WREDAC, and Australia’s second computer - just WRE’s computer was special, it took input from locally built analogue to digital conversion of missile range data, processed this with locally written software, and produced performance reports, off-line, on Australia’s first line printer and the world’s first digital plotters. While this machine was a number cruncher, Ovenstone saw that it could be used for business applications - he programmed demonstration examples and told everyone who would listen that this was the way ahead. Like the other first generation computers WREDAC soon had competition from fast, reliable transistorised machines. Unlike the others WREDAC did not have a university environment to support it and its life was relatively short - but productive and inspiring.
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hal-01526816 , version 1 (23-05-2017)





John Deane. Australia’s WREDAC – ItWas Rocket Science. Arthur Tatnall. Reflections on the History of Computing : Preserving Memories and Sharing Stories, AICT-387, Springer, pp.1-21, 2012, IFIP Advances in Information and Communication Technology (SURVEY), ⟨10.1007/978-3-642-33899-1_1⟩. ⟨hal-01526816⟩
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