UTEC Simulator

The University of Toronto Electronic Computer Mark I (UTEC), was built between 1948 and 1952, and was the first modern, electronic, digital computer in Canada. It was a parallel, binary computer with a 12-bit word, eight instructions and its 512 word primary store was implemented with Williams tubes. Input and output was handled via paper tape. Unfortunately, UTEC was never used beyond demonstration and testing purposes. It was originally intended to be a prototype for the engineering team (mostly graduate students) to learn from and experiment with until they were ready to build a full-scale version. But rather than go ahead with the full scale UTEC, the university decided -- not without some arm-twisting from the National Research Council and the atomic research scientists at Chalk River -- to purchase a Ferranti Mark I instead. The latter could be installed within months, but a full scale UTEC might take years. Shortly after the Ferranti arrived in Toronto in 1952, UTEC was scrapped and the engineering team dispersed.

Of course, this is a simplified account; a more nuanced version is available in my dissseration. A contemporary technical description written by one of the engineers is here: R.F. Johnston, The University Of Toronto Model Electronic Computer, Proceedings of the 1952 ACM national meeting (Toronto), pp 154 - 160 (ACM digital library account required).

I am currently writing a UTEC simulator in java. At the moment it can run small programs, but is quite rough around the edges. I hope to publish a more polished java applet online in early 2007, at which time anyone will be able to write and run their own UTEC programs. Full source code will be available at that time, along with the necessary documentation. In the meantime, I'm placing Appendix A: A Short Primer on Using UTEC from my dissertation online.

A contemporary Globe and Mail article described UTEC as a "Push Button Brain", which inspired the title of my blog.

UPDATE (August 2007): The alpha-quality applet is still online for now at the old address. A much improved version is currently working, but I have not yet had time to polish the rough edges. Hopefully in the new year I will find time to get it online.

UPDATE (4 Feb 2007): A very alpha-quality applet is now online. It is only online for personal testing purposes. There is no documentation, nor do the Input or Output instructions work yet. In the coming weeks, updates and documentation will appear.

Copyright 2007 © Scott M. Campbell