Flossie the computer is rescued from scrapheap by National Museum of Computing

By Helen Davidson | 22 October 0213 | Updated: 22 October 2013

One of the first mass-produced computers, the ICT 1301, has been acquired by The National Museum of Computing, where it will be brought back to life for the third time in its 50-year history.

a black and white photo of a man in an office cellar with a large computer
Stuart Fyfe with Flossie at the Accounting Bureau during the early 1970s© Courtesy TNMOC
Affectionately known as Flossie, the vintage computer is huge, weighing in at 5.4 tons with a footprint of around six by seven metres. It took three container lorries to transfer it to TNMOC’s new storage facility in Milton Keynes.

Originally built in 1962 the ICT 1301 was the most complex computer of its time and one of the first that could be easily used in commercial and public organizations. Flossie did her service at the University of London, who used it for general accounting and the administration of the GCE exam results of students who studied in England and Wales during the 60s.

“The ICT 1301 marks a transition from simply knowing how to build computers, to being able to install one in almost any office without needing special facilities,” explained TNMOC Trustee, Kevin Murrell. “It transformed data processing in many business and used punch cards, magnetic tape reels and built-in printers.”

During the 1960s a wide range of companies used ICT 1301s including Selfridges, the Milk Marketing Board and various insurance companies. However, by the 1970s they were discontinued and replaced by more up to date computers like the ICL 1900.

But with it hulking size and iconic shape the ICT1301s were the quintessential data crunching computer and machines like Flossie made several TV and film appearances including episodes of Doctor Who and Blake’s 7 and various 70s and 80s films including James Bond’s the Man with the Golden Gun and The Pink Panther.

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Follow Helen Davidson on Twitter @helen__davidson.
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"Flossie" is 1301 serial number 6 - the very first of its kind out of the factory. International Computers and Tabulators (ICT) supplied to London University for administration use in 1962, the students never got near it. G.C.E. certificates were produced on its revolutionary line printer. 1MHz clock speed is OK to keep up with punched cards and high speed magnetic tape and discrete germanium transistors. Only 16,000 transistors are needed to do everything. Fast magnetic core store plus magnetic
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