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fbtwitterlinkedinvimeoflicker grey 14rssslideshare1
Deane , John (2012)
Publisher: Springer
Languages: English
Types: Part of book or chapter of book
Subjects: [ INFO ] Computer Science [cs], Woomera (Australia), long range weapons, ELLIOTT 403, Weapons research
International audience; 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.
  • The results below are discovered through our pilot algorithms. Let us know how we are doing!

    • 13 Peter Morton 1989 ibid. LRWE's Frank O'Grady proposed the contact with Trevor Pearcey at CSIRO.
    • 14 Peter Goddard private communication Dec 2007.
    • 15 Peter Morton 1989 ibid. W.A.S.Butement, R.W.Boswell & R.P.Bonnell travelled through the USA. They recommended Ampex tape recorders and Benson-Lehner Boscar ballistic film analyser and recorders.
    • 16 He later dropped the hyphen.
    • 17 Peter Morton 1989 ibid. The document can be identified as 'J. Allen-Ovenstone, Notes on data processing at LRWE, 9 Oct 1953' (21pp) but this hasn't been located in Australian Defence archives, nor in UK computing archives.
    • 18 Peter Morton 1989 ibid.
    • 19 National Archives of the History of Computing at John Rylands University Library, The University of Manchester: National Research Development Council records: NAHC/NRDC/C15/8 “Computer 401 Elliott Bros, Publicity”. Correspondence 1953-55. 3 letters on 13 May, 1953, NRDC to Prof D.M.Myers, University of Sydney; NRDC to W.A.S.Butement, Dept. of Supply, Melbourne; and NRDC to W.R.Blunden, Military Board, Australia House, London.
    • 20 Peter Morton 1989 ibid. Jacoby was also involved in the LEDAC project.
    • 21 Bernard B Swann “The Ferranti Computer Department” (1974, unpublished manuscript in the John Bennett collection of the Australian Computer Museum Society)
    • 22 Simon Lavington “Moving Targets” (Springer 2011). Laurence Clarke became Technical Director of Elliotts.
    • 23 NAHC/NRDC/C13/3 'Electronic Computers, Elliott Bros Ltd, Development, File No 3'. Correspondence 1952-53. NRDC Internal Memo 27 August 1953. Has considerable detail about Project 403 but it is not what became the Elliott 403 / WREDAC.
    • 24 Simon Lavington 2011 ibid. These quotations refer to the computer as 'WREDAC' which it wasn't then called.
    • 25 NAHC/NRDC/C13/8 'Computers, Elliott Bros, Manufacturing Programme Contract No 3'. Correspondence 1953-65. NRDC Internal Memo 15th February, 1955.
    • 26 'Weapons Research Establishment Digital Automatic Computer' of course.
    • 27 Digital Computer Newsletter Vol.7 No.4 Oct 1955 (Office of Naval Research, U.S. Navy). A. St.Johnston 'A Series of Computers using plug-in units' Proc. IEE Vol.103 Part B Supplement 2 Convention on Digital-Computer Techniques pp186-7, April 1956.
    • 30 R.W.M. Boswell 'Guided Flight Trials' (J. Royal Aeronautical Society, Vol.62 June 1958).
    • 31 Simon Lavington 2011 ibid.
    • 32 Simon Lavington 2011 ibid. The tubes were '12AT7 twin triodes' operating too close to their design limits. This was never fixed but WRE engineers eventually screened new valves for the best performers.
    • 36 'UTECOM', an English Electric DEUCE.
    • 37 F. Thonemann 'Automatic High-speed Data Processing' in 'Automation and Australia - proceedings of Symposium at NSW University of Technology 11 & 12th September 1956' (NSW University of Technology)
    • 38 J. Allen-Ovenstone 'WREDAC quarterly report 1.10.56 to 20.12.56' SA5398/11/2, reproduced in Peter Morton 1989 ibid.
    • 39 'Data Processing System - The Australian Weapons Research Establishment - Salisbury, S. Australia', Communications of the ACM. Vol.1 No.7 July 1958.
    • 40 H.J. Brown, 'Introduction' to 'Data Processing and Automatic Computing Machines, Proceedings of Conference held at Weapons Research Establishment, Salisbury, S.A. 3rd - 8th June 1957' (Commonwealth of Australia Department of Supply 1958).
    • 41 About this time he dropped the hyphenated surname.
    • 42 J.A. Ovenstone, 'Business and Accountancy Data Processing' and 'Demonstration Problems on the WREDAC System' in 'Data Processing and Automatic Computing Machines, Proceedings of Conference' 1957 ibid.
    • 43 B.G. Gates, 'Opening Address' in 'Data Processing and Automatic Computing Machines, Proceedings of Conference' 1957 ibid.
    • 44 eg. Charles Hamblin's description of Reverse Polish Notation which led to stack based computing and influenced the design of hand held calculators.
    • 45 G.E. Barlow quoted in Peter Morton 1989 ibid.
    • 46 The new console position is shown in WRE drawing MSK56 of 22 October 1957. Details of the consoles may be obtained from undated photos in Peter Morton 1989 ibid and J.M. Bennett et al 'Computing in Australia' Hale & Iremonger 1994.
    • 47 'Data Processing System' CACM. Vol.1 No.7 July 1958 ibid.
    • 48 Peter Morton 1989 ibid.
    • 49 Research Review of the CSIRO 1960. Accessed through Google books February 2012.
    • 50 White, Overheu & Wheadon “A report on data processing at WRE”, WRE TRD2, 1959 (reported in Peter Morton 1989 ibid).
    • 51 E.W. Radoslovich (CSIRO Div Soils) “The Structure of Muscovite” Acta Crystallography 13/919 1960 (reported in Peter Morton 1989 ibid).
    • 52 Y.Y. Chan “Theoretical pressure distributions on a series of supersonic wing-body combinations” WRE TM HSA 85-90 1960.
    • 53 J.G. Sanderson, “Automatic Programming for Digital Computers” University of Adelaide MSc Thesis, 1957.
    • 57 Peter Morton 1989 ibid.
    • 58 Knight, D. C. “Wredac programmes for the reduction of wind tunnel force-measurement data”, Jul 1960 WRE-TRD-TM-53. Nicholls, L. A.; Phillips, A. D. “Some facilities on WREDAC for the analysis of stationary time series”, Aug 1960 WRE-TRD-TM-52. Overheu, D. L. “Some programs for the conjugate gradient methods for the solution of linear simultaneous equations”, Jul 1961 WRE-TRD-TM-57A.
    • 59 George Barlow biography from http://www.eoas.info/biogs/P003358b.htm (March 2012) and Peter Morton 1989 ibid.
    • 60 Peter Morton 1989 ibid.
    • Robert William Born 1911 in Melbourne. For his 1935 MSc at Melbourne University he McGregor (Bill) used radio direction finding to trace thunderstorms across southern Boswell Australia. He continued this with CSIRO, then joined the PMG which sent him to the UK for further study. During WW2 he joined the Navy and worked on radar. In 1946 he joined the Department of Civil Aviation as senior engineer. Then, in 1948 he became Principal Scientific Officer at LRWE and headed the electronics group. The next year he was put in charge of the test range. He joined the CSIRO Committee on Mathematical Instruments (ie computers), toured US and UK missile test ranges and in 1956 received an OBE. From 1958 he was Director of WRE and known as 'Mr Rocket Range'. In 1965 he left WRE to become Secretary to the Department of National Development and Chairman of the Snowy Mountains Council. Then in 1969 he was Deputy High Commissioner in London and returned to be Chairman of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. He died in 1976. 63
    • 2 Input paper tape and add to 5 low BT 0 b φ bits of upper A
    • 3 Input paper tape and add to most BT 10 b φ significant 5 bits of A
    • 4 Output least significant 5 bits of RT 0 φ upper A to paper tape
    • 5 Output most significant 5 bits of RT 10 φ A to paper tape
    • 6 Block to disc transfer, from store TB 0 b φ block b to disc sector s
    • 7 Disc to block transfer, from disc TB 10 b φ sector s to store block b
    • 24 Tape channel 0 forward
    • 25 Tape channel 1 forward
    • 26 Tape channel 0 reverse
    • 27 Tape channel 1 reverse
    • 28 Tape channel 0 halt
    • 29 Tape channel 1 halt
    • 30 Erase tape channel 0
    • 31 Erase tape channel 1
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