Flossie restored: Early computer back to life in Kent

Rod Brown with Flossie Rod Brown spent nine years restoring Flossie, which was bought for its £200 scrap value

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One of the world's oldest commercial computers has been brought back to life by two enthusiasts in a barn in Kent.

The ICT1301 computer, known as Flossie, was restored to working order on its 50th anniversary by engineers Roger Holmes and Rod Brown in Bethersden.

The 20ft (6m) by 22ft machine was built to replace rows of clerks doing office work and featured in the 1974 James Bond film The Man With The Golden Gun.

Bought for £200 in 2003, it has 100th of the power of a smartphone.

Mr Holmes, a Computer Conservation Society volunteer, said it was a unique machine important for putting modern technology into context.

Blake's 7

He said he was negotiating with various organisations to find it a new home.

"It's a big beast. I would like it go somewhere they will continue to keep it running," he said.

"If it is kept behind a case, people will not be able to experience what it was like in the 1960s.

Maud Adams, Roger Moore and Britt Ekland from the 1974 film The Man with the Golden Gun Flossie was used as a prop in Bond film The Man With The Golden Gun

"With it working, people can walk in, hear it, smell it and almost taste it and have a flavour of how it was back then."

Flossie originally cost £250,000 to build in 1962, the equivalent of £4.2m today.

It has 100,000 punch cards and 27 reels of magnetic tape, both to record data, and its 12 kilobytes of memory alone weigh half a tonne.

Each piece of memory has five lengths of wire threaded by hand.

Mr Brown said: "You have to remember that file reels in those days were multi-reel, so at 10 meg a reel, 27 reels, we're up to a quarter of a gigabyte - and 50 years ago that was a lot of data."

Mr Holmes said Flossie took the drudgery out of office work in the 1960s, but also cost jobs.

"Before this, there were huge great rooms 100ft square full of clerks doing nothing but calculation, and recording things, and taking the files out, and changing them, and putting them back again - and they all became redundant," he said.

Flossie was used as a prop in Bond film The Man With The Golden Gun starring Roger Moore and also in two BBC TV series - Doctor Who and Blake's 7.

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