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ACS Heritage Project: Chapter 8

Thursday, 02 Feb 2017


By 1962, there were 74 computers installed in Australia.


The Australian Computer Society (ACS) was formed 50 years ago, when the various state computer societies joined forces.

To mark the occasion, the ACS has initiated a heritage project to honour the many individuals who have contributed to the growth of the ICT profession in Australia.

At the heart of the project is a history of computing in Australia. It is not just a history of the ACS, but the history of a profession.

Australia has the longest computing history of any country, excepting the US and the UK, and CSIRAC in the Museum of Victoria is the oldest computer still in existence.

Previously published:

Chapter 1 -The start of Australia’s computing history

Chapter 2: The first Australian Computer Conference

Chapter 3: Harry Messel and the birth of SILLIAC

Chapter 4: John Bennett

Chapter 5: SILLIAC and the Snowy Mountains Scheme

Chapter 6: UTECOM

Chapter 7: WREDAC

Chapter 8: Australia’s Computer Industry in 1962 

Australia’s first few computers attracted substantial interest from organisations – in the public and private sectors –  which realised the opportunities offered by the new technology. SILLIAC and UTECOM in particular were widely used by organisations outside of the universities that housed them.

As more computers became commercially available, it became cost-effective for commercial organisations and government departments to buy or lease their own machines. From just four computers in Australia in 1956, there were 12 in 1958, and 34 in 1960. The number grew exponentially until it was impossible to count them all.

There exists a remarkable list of all the computers installed in Australia as of December 1962. It contains 74 machines. Though incomplete, it gives a good idea of the sorts of machines installed and organisations running them.

The computers in the listing come from ten different vendors, who were the dominant players in the early years of the Australian computer industry. These suppliers were often referred to as IBM and the BUNCH, which was an acronym for Burroughs, Univac, NCR, Control Data and Honeywell. The term was of US origin, and did not include the other major player in Australia, ICL, which came into existence when all the British suppliers merged at the UK Government’s insistence in 1968. In Australia, it was IBM and the BUNCHI (though that term was never used). Some players in the list were absorbed by BUNCHI suppliers during the 1960s.

To read the full article, click here.