Digital computer component, from 'SILLIAC', Vacuum Tube Register, Australia, 1955-1956
The SILLIAC was one of the first three computers in Australia and was the first automatic computer built in an Australian university. SILLIAC was a copy of ILLIAC, the first automatic computer built at the University of Illinois, USA.
Sir Adolph Basser donated 50 000 pounds in February 1954 (later doubled to 100 000 pounds) to the then Nuclear Research Foundation, founded by Professor Harry Messel, to enable the Australian version to be built. The computer was constructed in the School of Physics at the University of Sydney and at Standard Telephones and Cables Pty Ltd (now Alcatel Australia), Sydney, during 1955 and 1956. The first successful scientific calculation on the machine was performed on 4 July 1956 with SILLIAC officially opened by Sir John Northcott, Governor of NSW and Administrator of the Commonwealth of Australia, on 12 September 1956.
SILLIAC became an invaluable tool to the University of Sydney and the surrounding business community. It served both as an invaluable computational tool and as a training ground for the first generation of computer specialists. SILLIAC ran twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year until it was finally dismantled in 1968.