When we speak about a “computer” currently, we typically photo an digital device that can conduct a variety of forms of mathematical operations, handle its program movement, move data from 1 location to a further, and string all these features alongside one another to perform some useful activity. But when on a time there ended up machines that could carry out only a subset of these features these may possibly be labeled somewhere in between personal computers and calculators.
A person these device was the Elektronensaldierer ES 24, developed in 1955 by German personal computer pioneer Heinz Nixdorf. Its name interprets as “electronic balancer”, with “balance” in the accounting feeling indicating the change of assets and liabilities. Designed to interface with a punch card device from French maker Bull, it contained many hundred vacuum tubes and could be used to include and subtract figures saved on those punch playing cards.
[Henry Westphal] resolved to make a contemporary copy of the ES 24 (translated), based mostly on Nixdorf’s primary schematics, for exhibit in the HNF laptop or computer museum in Paderborn. The result is a large exhibit containing 204 tubes as very well as a large electric power provide. Like the 1955 primary it can increase incoming numbers and output the end result as a twelve-digit decimal amount. To make its interior workings seen, [Henry] also included a position gentle to every single tube, demonstrating irrespective of whether it is storing a “0” or a “1”. This would make for a wonderful Blinkenlights display screen that demonstrates the bits relocating as a result of the machine’s internal circuits.
Contrary to the authentic, the new ES 24 will come with a USB interface, enabling it to talk with a fashionable Laptop and letting museum website visitors to work the equipment employing a touchscreen. Beneath the USB port nevertheless, the interface is identical to the first, so if you have been to deliver together your Bull punch card machine you must be capable to connect it to the new Elektronensaldierer.
In the video embedded down below (in German), museum curator David Woitkowski demonstrates the new machine. It is not the only vacuum tube laptop or computer on screen in a museum the Colossus replica in Bletchley Park is also really considerably worthy of observing. That show even encouraged the structure of an totally new vacuum tube laptop or computer. Thanks to [Jörg] for the idea.