Startling Work By Electronic Brain

h EDP order

CSIRO Problem In Computer Network

The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 June, 1953

Some of the more startling achievements of the modern "electronic brains", now being used for commercial and scientific purposes, were described yesterday by Mr. R. T. Reynolds, special representative in the Far East for the International Business Machines Corporation.

Mr. Reynolds said that large-scale versions of these machines were to be seen in America, Britain and Australia.

"Electronic brains" are largely used for scientific calculations and have tremendous capacity.

One of them, said Mr. Reynolds, has a memory capacity of over 400,000 digits and punched card output of 16,000 digits a minute.

"There is a basic difference in principle between the older mechanical brains and the new electronic brains", he said. "Both have electrical wiring or nervous systems, but the 'brain' of the mechanical calculator is made up of a series of relays, while valves serve as the 'brain' of new electronic calculator. The relay type can do about 10 additions a second, while it is possible for the electrons in the vacuum to do thousands a second.


"To show how far the revolution in office organisation has progressed, a small commercial equivalent of these electronic brains is now being mass-produced. Already there are well over a thousand in regular day-to-day use.

"They solve many practical problems, such as calculating the premium rates for insurance policies and the automatic calculation of public utility bills, with the last meter reading the only factor necessary to complete the entire computation.

"It is of interest to Australian businessman to know that such machines are available in Australia - and from non-dollar sources".

Editor : I suspect that Reynold's was "dumbing down" his thoughts for the benefit of the press and ultimately the great unwashed public!  It's a little hard to believe a senior IBM executive would still be talking in terms of an electronic brain"!  His comments on “non-dollar” sources is interesting - it implies some sort currency restrictions on trading with the U.S.