UTECOM: 55th Anniversary of Official Opening on 11th September 2011

Invited guests inspect
UTECOM on Opening
Day, 11 Sept 1956
Operations in
the early days

A few reminders:

The Front Panel Magnetic Drum Display Panel GEORGE mask

The Premier of NSW the Hon. J.J.Cahill officially named UTECOM
on 11th September 1956 and “started its operation by pressing a switch”
while at the N.S.W. University of Technology
(later renamed as University of NSW)
to open a Symposium on Automation and Australia.

On 11th
September 2006, a number of us convened at UNSW, in the building of
the School of Computer Science and Engineering, the successor to the
School of Electrical Engineering (as we knew it years ago), to mark
the 50th anniversary of the official opening of UTECOM.

On that occasion,
Robin Vowels unveiled an interim plaque commemorating the

Subsequently a permanent metal plaque was obtained.

It is mounted on the eastern pillar of the external doorway

of a new passage into the [Old] Main Building passing within

a metre of the western side of where UTECOM stood.

The booklet “UTECOM,
A Turing Engine for the University of NSW

produced by John Deane early in 2006.

It contains a thorough description of DEUCE hardware and programming,

and details many events related to obtaining UTECOM and to its use.

He lists its facilities such as GEORGE and GIP, and papers derived from

its use that in many cases were presented at computing conferences.

John Deane is one
of the CSIRO inventors of WiFi; he is currently President of the
Computer Museum Society (ACMS) of which I am Hon. Secretary.

Keith Titmuss has
for quite a few years been writing a collection of chapters
describing the hardware units of the DEUCE computer. Keith goes into
great detail of the method of operation of each unit type, and
includes logic and circuit diagrams that he has redrawn from the
“draughtsman quality” original charts. There are quite a
number of photographs, and extensive component lists.

He has produced a set of three volumes.
The major opus, on the magnetic drum and associated units,
is contained in volume 3 – it is extremely
the drum’s method of operation is quite intricate.

The web site
by John Barrett (who lives in Australia) contains
extensive information on DEUCE sites, people, photos, manuals, and
some memorabilia. Do look!

Robin and Keith and
I continue to communicate regularly on DEUCE and UTECOM matters.

When Robin visits
Sydney we try to get together to plan and review other documentation.

I have been considering a complementary volume
to Keith’s three: a “UTECOM companion”, to contain
information such as:

  1. profiles of UTECOM staff such as when they started and finished; their rôles
  2. profiles of University people who used UTECOM for processing; when; their purpose …

    for example, papers for conferences, research, thesis projects
  3. profiles of external users and commercial customers - likewise
  4. any photos or scannable memorabilia;
  5. anecdotes from staff and users
  6. programmes developed; their function
  7. profile extensions beyond the closing down of UTECOM
  8. anything else people might like to suggest!

I ask all of you to
consider the above for a while, and respond to me by email or by
ringing me on (02) 9743-4279 any night between say 7pm and 11pm.
Would you be happy to contribute to the “Companion Volume”?
The audience would mainly be ourselves, probably, but historical
information of this nature deserves to be preserved and I would
prefer you to feel the same way. You would need to consider privacy
aspects of any information provided in line with modern trends,
though I doubt any of us has anything very controversial to disclose.

If you know someone
who fits one of the “profile” categories above but whom I
might not have contacted, please forward this web link,
or let me know their contact details.

Believe it or not,
there are DEUCE emulators available, so if you’ve been missing
that “UTECOM fix”, get in touch. There is also a
40-second video of yours truly operating UTECOM in 1961 (it was a
setup – part of a UNSW promo). There is also an audio file of
some processing.

[ There is a UNSW video at YouTube, search for UNSW COMPUTING

It includes UTECOM and John WEBSTER. jg.]

John Webster

(02) 9743 4279

26 Brays Rd,

Concord nsw 2137

[WIP triad]

Hon. Sec. Australian Computer Museum Society Inc.

Web Version 1.05, 13-SEP-2011, © John GEREMIN for ACMS Inc.