One tonne 'Baby' goes mobile

Oct 27, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- It took a one-tonne computer the size of a room to run a simple mathematics program in 1948 - but now computer scientists have made it available on your mobile.

The famous ‘Baby’, designed and built at The University of Manchester, was the first computer able to store information in its memory, changing the face of computing and society for ever.

In June 1948 the machine, which was built using bits from Spitfire radios and old Post Office racks, made history by successfully running a simple routine to determine the highest factor of a number.

It took 3.5kW to power the massive ‘Baby’ or Small Scale Experimental Machine (SSEM) - the equivalent of three and half electric bar fires going at full pelt.

But now, to mark Manchester Science Festival 2009, Dr Andrew Robinson from The School of Computer Science at The University of Manchester has written an application for today’s phones that does exactly the same thing.

Mobile users can now download the free application from www.d60.org.uk - complete with authentic green screen - and see how many times faster the tiny computer in their pocket performs than the big old Baby.

Dr Robinson said: “Since mobiles run off batteries the computers inside them must be extremely energy efficient - much more so than the original Baby used in 1948.

“To handle the needs of the latest phones with mobile Internet, music players and cameras, they need much more too.

“Although the list of devices containing computers is almost endless, fundamentally they all operate on the same principle, which can be traced back over 60 years to The Baby.

“This application demonstrates how computers were embedded into our everyday lives and how computational performance has increased whilst their size and energy have decreased.”

The application has been going down a storm with schoolchildren at Manchester Science Festival, who have been competing to see who can run the program the fastest.

The application can be downloaded from www.d60.org.uk and should run on any phone that supports Java.

Manchester Science Festival 2009 runs from 24 October to 1 November. The programme includes over 150 exciting science, engineering, technology, engineering and maths events for families and adults in venues across Greater Manchester.

Provided by University of Manchester (news : web)

Explore further: Beyond GoPro: Skiers and snowboarders can measure everything with apps, hardware

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

First digital music made in Manchester

Jun 18, 2008

Computer scientists and engineers at The University of Manchester took part in the first ever recording of digital music in the early 1950s, it has been revealed.

Speed is the name of the game for researchers

Oct 11, 2006

Cutting-edge computer technology designed for use in game consoles like the PlayStation 3 will power complex research software at The University of Manchester. Academics in several scientific and engineering fields will use ...

Recommended for you

Team infuses science into 'Minecraft' modification

18 hours ago

The 3-D world of the popular "Minecraft" video game just became more entertaining, perilous and educational, thanks to a comprehensive code modification kit, "Polycraft World," created by University of Texas at Dallas professors, ...

Microsoft's Garage becomes an incubator of consumer apps

20 hours ago

For five years now, The Garage has served as Microsoft's incubator for employees' passion projects, an internal community of engineers, designers, hardware tinkerers and others from all different parts of the company who ...

Students win challenge for real-time traffic app

21 hours ago

Three University of Texas at Arlington Computer Science and Engineering students have won a $10,000 prize in the NTx Apps Challenge for a smart traffic light network that adjusts traffic light schedules to ...

Blink, point, solve an equation: Introducing PhotoMath

Oct 22, 2014

"Ma, can I go now? My phone did my homework." PhotoMath, from the software development company MicroBlink, will make the student's phone do math homework. Just point the camera towards the mathematical expression, ...

User comments : 0