Frank Hirst and his team at The University of Melbourne took a year to reassemble the computer ― a measure of the machine’s complexity.

On 14 June 1956 the computer ― renamed CSIRAC ― was ceremonially switched on in the university’s new Computation Laboratory.

For the next eight years, CSIRAC provided a computing service for science and industry, operating for approximately 30,000 hours and tackling around 700 projects. These included calculations for weather forecasting, forestry, loan repayments, building design, psychological research and electricity supply.

Because demand was so great, clients might wait weeks for access. Those with longer jobs often worked through the night.

Students gained their first experience in programming and machine logic on CSIRAC. At university open days CSIRAC performed to the general public, playing early computer games and making mortgage calculations.

CSIRAC could be a temperamental machine; even turning on the electric jug for tea could cause it to fail! Engineers Ron Bowles and Jurij Semkiw not only kept CSIRAC operational but also continued to improve its storage and speed.

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