Spare parts firm saves world’s first computer
The world’s oldest computer which helped win World War Two for the Allies, rebuilt after the Cold War, will continue to run thanks to a donation from a Billingshurst firm.
Langrex, which sells obsolete and hard to find commercial, industrial and military components and is based in Daux Road, donated 100 valves to the National Museum of Computing at Bletchley Park.
During WWII it housed ten Collosus computers, the first programmable electronic, digital computer, but were disassembled after the war. Thanks to the work of experts a rebuilt Collosus was completed in 2007 with the valves donated after an appeal to help keep the machine running.
Ben Whiting, IT support manager at Langrex, from Rudgwick, who went to the Midlands to donate the valves on behalf of the firm, said it was a fantastic visit since he worked in the navy as a radio mechaniser, and had a strong interest in cryptography.
He said: “Because I was really interested the idea was I would go up and donate the valves and get a guided tour around the museum.
“It was a really exciting trip for me.”
The company heard about the appeal when James Rhodes, partner of the firm with his father, took a call from a client telling him about Bletchley Park’s appeal.
Each of the valves has a value of around £10, so the donation equated to around £1,000, but he was glad to help the museum keep Collosus running.
The valves are used in the computer to control electronic current through a vacuum.
Ben said that while being given a tour around the museum he was told that former Prime Minister Winston Churchill claimed Collosus contributed to ending the war two years early.
Ben added: “So it’s a big part of history.”
Bletchley Park, in Buckinghamshire, was where the Allies attempted to crack enemy transmission codes during WW2.
Langrex was originally based in Streatham, London, but moved to Croydon, and then Billingshurst seven years ago.
For more information visit www.langrex.co.uk
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