List of vacuum-tube computers

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Vacuum-tube computers, now called 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. Some later computers on the list had both vacuum tubes and transistors.

This list of vacuum-tube computers is sorted by date put into service:

Computer Date Units Notes
Arthur Halsey Dickinson (IBM) June 1939 1 Not programmable, executed addition and subtraction, the first electronic output (display)[2][3][4]
Joseph Desch, NCR3566 (NCR) Aug. 1939 1 Not programmable, executed addition and subtraction, thyratron decades[5][6]
Atanasoff–Berry Computer 1942 1 Not programmable, could solve a system of linear equations
Colossus 1943 10 First 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.
ENIAC 1945 1 First 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, by April 1948 it had been converted to a form of stored-program operation. It was decimal in nature, not binary.
Manchester Baby 1948 1 First 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 1 1949 1 Provided a computing service from April 1949. First index registers. Re-engineered 1951 as Ferranti Mark 1.
EDSAC 1949 1 First ran on 6 May 1949, and provided a computing service for Cambridge University until 1958. Working replica being built at The National Museum of Computing, Bletchley Park.
BINAC 1949 1 First stored-program computer to be sold, but did not work for customer.
CSIRAC 1949 1 Oldest surviving complete first-generation electronic computer — unrestored and non-functional.
SEAC 1950 1 First 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.
SWAC 1950 1 Built 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 Atlas 1950 (Military version of Univac 1101) Used 2,700 vacuum tubes for its logic circuits
MADDIDA 1950 6 Special-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 ACE 1950 1 Based on a full-scale design by Alan Turing
Elliott 152 1950 1 Naval fire control computer, real-time control system, fixed program
Harvard Mark III 1951 1 It used 5,000 vacuum tubes and 1,500 crystal diodes
Ferranti Mark 1 1951 9 First commercially available computer, based on Manchester Mark 1.
EDVAC 1951 1 The 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 Computer (The "WITCH") 1951 1 Now officially the oldest original working computer in the world. Is frequently demonstrated at The National Museum of Computing, Bletchley Park.
Whirlwind 1951 1 Parallel logic, approx 5,000 vacuum tubes. First use of magnetic-core memory.
UNIVAC I 1951 46 Mass-produced. 46 were made.
LEO I 1951 1 First computer for commercial applications. Built by J. Lyons and Co. restaurant and bakery chain. Based on EDSAC design.
UNIVAC 1101 1951 Designed by ERA, Used 2,700 vacuum tubes for its logic circuits
Hollerith Electronic Computer (HEC) 1951 Initial 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 machine 1951 1 Built 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.
MESM 1951 1 Built 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 409 1952 ~1000 Built by Remington Rand, it was a punched card calculator programmed by a plugboard
Harvard Mark IV 1952 1 built by Harvard University under the supervision of Howard Aiken for the United States Air Force
G1 1952 Built by the Max Planck Institute for Physics in Göttingen, esp. by Heinz Billing[7][8][9]
ORDVAC 1952 1 Built by the University of Illinois for the Ballistic Research Laboratory and was a twin of the ILLIAC I
ILLIAC I 1952 1 Built by the University of Illinois in Urbana
MANIAC I 1952 1 Built at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory and based on the IAS computer
IBM 701 1952 19 Built by IBM, also known as the Defense Calculator, based on the IAS computer
BESM-1 1952 1 Built in the Soviet Union
Bull Gamma 3 1952 Made by Groupe Bull and contained almost 400 tubes.[10][11][12]
TREAC 1953 1 Telecommunications Research Establishment Automatic Computer - Parallel computer developed at TRE Malvern, England
AVIDAC 1953 1 Based on the IAS computer
FLAC 1953 3 Design based on SEAC. Located at Patrick Air Force Base.
JOHNNIAC 1953 1 Built by the RAND Corporation, based on the IAS computer
MIDAC 1953 1 Built at the University of Michigan, the first at a university in the Midwest
IBM 702 1953 14 Built by IBM for business computing
UNIVAC 1103 1953 Designed by Engineering Research Associates (ERA)
RAYDAC 1953 1 Built by Raytheon for Naval Air Missile Test Center
Strela computer 1953 7 Built in the Soviet Union
Datatron 1954 ~120 Scientific/commercial computer built by ElectroData Corporation
IBM 650 1954 ~2000 The world's first mass-produced computer
IBM 704 1954 123 The first mass-produced computer with floating-point arithmetic hardware for scientific use
IBM 705 1954 Mostly compatible with the IBM 702, for business use. There is one that is not in operating condition at Computermuseum München.
BESK 1954 April 1 Sweden's first computer and was the fastest computer in the world for a brief time
IBM NORC 1954 Dec 1 Built 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 1102 1954 3 A variation of the UNIVAC 1101 built for the US Air Force
DYSEAC 1954 1 Built 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.
WISC 1954 1 Built by the University of Wisconsin–Madison
REAC 400 (C-400)[13] 1955[14] In 1961 REAC installed for $60,000 at University of Minnesota.[15] General-purpose electronic analog computer.[14]
CALDIC 1955 1 Designed to be inexpensive and simple to use; it used decimal arithmetic
MOSAIC 1955 1 Second implementation of ACE (Automatic Computing Engine) architecture after Pilot ACE.
English Electric DEUCE 1955 31 Commercial version of Pilot ACE
Zuse Z22 1955 55 An early commercial computer.
ERMETH[16][17] 1955[18] Built by Eduard Stiefel, Heinz Rutishauser, Ambros Speiser at the ETH Zurich
HEC 4 (ICT 1200 series) 1955 Built by Andrew Booth
WEIZAC 1955 1 Built by the Weizmann Institute of Science (Israel) under the guidance of Prof. G. Estrin. First computer designed in the Middle East.
G2 1955 Built by the Max Planck Institute for Physics in Göttingen, esp. by Heinz Billing[7][8][9]
Axel Wenner-Gren ALWAC III-E 1955 Commercially constructed and installed (in 1957) at University of British Columbia and Oregon State University (then College)[19]
IBM 305 RAMAC 1956 >1000 The first commercial computer to use a moving-head hard-disk drive for secondary storage
PERM 1956 1 Built in Munich
D1 1956 Built by Joachim Lehmann at the TU Dresden[20]
SMIL 1956 1 Built in Sweden and based on the IAS computer
Bendix G-15 1956 >400 A 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 Machine 1956 TIFRAC (Tata Institute of Fundamental Research Automatic Calculator) was the first computer developed in India, at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai.
LGP-30 1956 ~500 Data-processing system made by Librascope; bit-serial drum machine with only 113 tubes, along with 1450 diodes[21]
UNIVAC 1103A 1956 First computer to have hardware interrupts
FUJIC 1956 1 The first electronic computer in Japan, designed to perform calculations for lens design by Fuji
Ferranti Pegasus 1956 38 Vacuum tube computer with magnetostrictive delay line memory intended for office usage. Second oldest surviving computer in the world.[22]
SILLIAC 1956 1 Built at the University of Sydney, based on the ILLIAC and ORDVAC
RCA BIZMAC 1956 6 RCA's first commercial computer, it contained 25,000 tubes
Ural series 1956–1964 Ural-1 to Ural-4.
Elliott 405 1956 32 Elliott's first commercial/business machine. Marketed as National-Elliott 405
BESM-2 1957 >20 general purpose computer in the BESM series
CIFA-1 1957 4 First computer built in Romania at Institutul de Fizică Atomică (Atomic Physics Institute)
DASK 1957 1 The first computer in Denmark; had an early implementation of ALGOL
UNIVAC 1104 1957 A 30-bit variation of the UNIVAC 1103
Ferranti Mercury 1957 19 An early commercial vacuum tube computer by Ferranti, with core memory and hardware floating point capability
IBM 610 1957 180 A small computer designed to be used by one person with limited experience
FACIT EDB 2 1957 9
LEO II 1957 11 Commercial version of LEO I prototype.
MANIAC II 1957 1 Built by the University of California and the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory
MISTIC 1957 1 A Michigan State University based on the ILLIAC I
MUSASINO-1 1957 1 A Japanese computer based on the ILLIAC I
MMIF 1957 MMIF 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.[23]
Sandia RAYPAC (Ray Path Analog Computer) c. 1957 Sandia's Blast Prediction Unit used for Operation Teapot[24]
EDSAC 2 1958 1 First computer to have a microprogrammed control unit and a bit-slice hardware architecture.
IBM 709 1958 An improved version of the IBM 704
UNIVAC II 1958 An improved, fully compatible version of the UNIVAC I
UNIVAC 1105 1958 3 A follow-up to the UNIVAC 1103 scientific computer
AN/FSQ-7 1958 Largest vacuum tube computer ever built. 52 were built for Project SAGE.
ZEBRA 1958 55 Designed in Holland and built by Britain's Standard Telephones and Cables[25]
Ferranti Perseus 1959 2 [26][27][28]
Rice Institute Computer 1959 1 Operational 1959-1971, 54-bit tagged architecture
Burroughs 220 1959 ~50 Scientific/commercial computer, successor to ElectroData Datatron
Cyclone 1959 1 IAS-type computer at Iowa State College
DERA 1959 1 Built 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[29]
TIFRAC 1960 The first computer developed in India
CER-10 1960 The first computer developed in Yugoslavia, it also used some transistors
Philips PASCAL / STEVIN 1960 Philips 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.[30][31][32]
The Wegematic 1000 1960 Improved version of the ALWAC III-E[33]
Odra 1001 1960 First computer built by Elwro, Wroclaw, Poland
Minsk-1 1960 Built in Minsk
G3 1961 Built by the Max Planck Institute for Physics in Göttingen, esp. by Heinz Billing[7]
Sumlock ANITA calculator 1961 <10,000/year Desktop calculator
UMC-1 1962 Developed in Poland, it used the unusual negabinary number system internally
BRLESC 1962 1 1,727 tubes and 853 transistors
OSAGE 1963 1 Close copy of the Rice Institute Computer built at the University of Oklahoma

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hsu, John Y. (December 21, 2017). Computer Architecture: Software Aspects, Coding, and Hardware. CRC Press. p. 4. ISBN 978-1420041101. Retrieved December 29, 2017.
  2. ^ Dickinson A.H., "Accounting Apparatus", US Pat. 2,580,740, filed Jan. 20, 1940, granted Jan. 1, 1952
  3. ^ Emerson W. Pugh (1996). Building IBM: Shaping an Industry and its Technology. The MIT Press.
  4. ^ IBM100, Patents and Inventions,
  5. ^ Desch J.R., "Calculating Machine", US Pat. 2,595,045, filed March 20, 1940, granted Apr. 29, 1952
  6. ^ Aspray W., "Interview with Robert E. Mumma", conducted on 19 April 1984, Dayton, OH, Charles Babbage Institute, Center for the History of Information Processing",
  7. ^ a b c "The G1, G2, and G3 of Billing in Göttingen".
  8. ^ a b Research, United States Office of Naval (1953). A survey of automatic digital computers. Office of Naval Research, Dept. of the Navy. pp. 37–38.
  9. ^ a b
  10. ^ technikum29-Team. "A first generation tube calculator: BULL GAMMA 3". Retrieved November 5, 2017.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ Research, United States Office of Naval (1953). A survey of automatic digital computers. Office of Naval Research, Dept. of the Navy. p. 39.
  13. ^ "COMPUTER COLLECTOR - Reeves REAC 400 Analog Computer (1957)". Retrieved June 1, 2018.
  14. ^ a b "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.
  15. ^ "UDEC I II III : Unitized Digital Electronic Calculator Models I II and III". Retrieved April 26, 2017.
  16. ^ Trueb, Lucien F. (2015). Astonishing the Wild Pigs: Highlights of Technology. ATHENA-Verlag. pp. 141–142. ISBN 9783898967662.
  17. ^ "10 brilliant things to discover at the new-look Museum of Communication". Time Out Switzerland. 9. Discover the Datacenter.
  18. ^ "Computer Science Research at ETH".
  19. ^ Törn, Aimo (December 1, 2000). "Wegematic 1000". Early History of Computing in Turku, 1959-1964. Åbo Akademi (University). Retrieved August 11, 2016.
  20. ^ Ludwig, Manfred (2007). "Das Leben und Wirken von Prof. N. J. Lehmann" [The life and work of Prof. N.J. Lehmann]. pp. 7–11.
  21. ^ LGP 30, technikum 29: Living Museum
  22. ^ Pegasus at the V&A, Computer Conservation Society, June 2016, retrieved August 29, 2016
  23. ^ 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.
  24. ^ Operation Teapot: Report of the Test Manager (Report). p. 68.
  25. ^ "Computer History Museum - Standard Telephones and Cables Limted, London - Stantec Zebra Electronic Digital Computer". Retrieved April 24, 2017.
  26. ^ 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.
  27. ^ Information, Reed Business (March 5, 1959). "To compute Swedish premiums". New Scientist. Reed Business Information. p. 517.
  28. ^ "REFERENCE INFORMATION: A Survey of British Digital Computers (Part 2) - Perseus" (PDF). Computers and Automation. 8 (4): 34. April 1959. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  29. ^ Ludwig 2007, p. 11-15.
  30. ^ *AUERBACH CORP PHILADELPHIA PA (January 1961). "EUROPEAN INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY. A REPORT ON THE INDUSTRY AND THE STATE OF THE ART" (PDF): 346–347. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  31. ^ 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. {{cite web}}: External link in |others= (help)
  32. ^
  33. ^ "REFERENCE INFORMATION: Survey of European Computers, Part 3 (Concluding Part)" (PDF). Computers and Automation. 9 (4): 26. April 1960. Retrieved September 5, 2020.