x'16' (22): Michigan Digital Automatic Computer (MIDAC)

posted Dec 23, 2014, 7:56 AM by Jeff Ogden   [ updated May 17, 2017, 4:15 PM ]
Michigan Digital Automatic Computer

From the Virtual Museum Histories of Information Technology project at the University of Michigan

In 1951, under collaborative sponsorship from the Wright Air Development Center and the United States Air Force, the Willow Run Research Center of the Engineer­ing Research Institute, University of Michigan began development of the Michigan Digital Automatic Computer (MIDAC) with the intention of producing a machine to assist with “the solution of certain complex military problems.” MIDAC was the sixth such digital automatic computer at a research university, and the first computer of its kind in the Midwest. Using the MIDAC was no simple task—a team of scientists and researchers were required to determine if a problem could be solved using the MIDAC. Perhaps the most strik­ing feature of the MIDAC was its shear size and mechanical components. The MIDAC required 12 tons of refrigeration equipment to cool its 500,000 connections and tubes. Additionally, its main memory storage device was a rotating magnetic “drum,” which could store just 6,000 “words,” or short segments of data. The MIDAC became functional in 1953, and was operated by Willow Run’s Digital Computation Department under the leadership of John Carr III until 1958 when the Air Force removed the equipment.

MIDAC: Automatic Computer

Booklet: Willow Run Research Center, Engineering Research Institute, University of Michigan,
undated, perhaps 1952, 16 pages, PDF  Hathi Trust

A New Research Tool

Michigan Alumnus Volume 60, 1953/1954, pages 76 and 77  Hathi Trust

Video: The story of the UM's high-speed electronic computer "Midac" built under the sponsorship of the U.S. Air Force.


Michigan Report, University of Michigan Television
Original: kine pos, b/w, sound, 00:14:37, 1955
Guest: Professor John Carr, Willow Run Laboratories
Producer - director: Don Hall
Moderator: Dan Ritz (?)
Technical supervisor: Fred Remley
Graphic artist: Thomas Coates