ERA 1101

ERA 1101A U.S. Navy team had built some early code-breaking computers during World War II similar to the Colossus machine in Britain. After the war, the group formed Engineering Research Associates (ERA) to continue building computers for the military and commercial sectors.

The first “Alpha” models initially funded by the U.S. Navy were delivered to the Army and the NSA. It is notably one of the first stored program computers that was ever built and then installed at a remote site.

The commercial version of the 1101 was revealed to the public in 1951, but by 1952  ERA was drained after a lengthy legal battle over conflict of interest claims due to the company’s military roots. The company was purchsed by Remington Rand around the same time as their acquisition of the Eckert-Mauchly Corporation, and was renamed the UNIVAC 1101 to capitalize on the name. Remington based a series of computers on the 1101 architecture well into the 1960s until it was finally phased out by newer technology. It continued to live on in name only in later Remington models.

Pilot ACE

Pilot_ACEBased on the full ACE design by Alan Turing, the Pilot ACE was one of Britain’s first computers. Designed at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), it ran it’s first program in May of 1950. Running at a blistering 1 megahertz, it was one of the fastest early computers and despite being a prototype it was extremely useful because of it’s ability to do floating point arithmetic.

With 800 vacuum tubes and mercury delay line memory, instruction time was anywhere between 64 ms to 1024 ms. It was successful enough that a commercial version, the DEUCE, was produced by the English Electric Company. Shut down in 1955, it was donated to the London Science Museum, where it has remained.


swacThe National Bureau of Standards completed its SWAC (Standards Western Automatic Computer) at the Institute for Numerical Analysis in Los Angeles. Rather than testing components like its companion, the SEAC, the SWAC had an objective of computing using already-developed technology.

Diode Logic

Diode Logic makes use of the fact that the electronic device known as a diode will conduct an electrical current in one direction, but not in the other. In this manner, the diode acts as an electronic switch.


seacThe beginning of image processing and the construction of the early National Bureau of Standards Electronic Automatic Computer (SEAC) computer made possible the experiments that led to image processing. SEAC was the first electronic computer with an internally stored program in the United States government. It was the first of three computers built at NBS. It was designed, built, and operated at NBS by engineers, scientists, and mathematicians.