The National Museum of Computing team beats Eggheads

A team from The National Museum of Computing recently competed on BBC2's Eggheads – and won

A team from The National Museum of Computing (TNMOC) beat the Eggheads on BBC 2’s popular quiz programme on 5 October 2016.

The team from TNMOC called themselves the Harwell and the Dekatrons, after the 1951 Harwell Dekatron, the oldest working digital computer, which currently runs at the museum.

Dekatrons team captain, Andrew Herbert, said: “We were up against arguably the best all-round quiz team in the country, so we had to select our opponent in the head-to-head section very quickly.

“We did our research and it paid off. It was fascinating watching the Eggheads team at work – if they didn’t know a topic particularly well, they would work around the question from all sorts of angles to try to guess the correct answer. We can learn a lot from that strategy.”

Three minutes after Eggheads had aired, a delighted 90-year-old Colossus veteran emailed the museum to congratulate us. Now, that’s fast – I think she should be on our next team.

TNMOC said the £4,000 prize money will be used to support day-to-day museum operations.

The Harwell and the Dekatrons team was Colin Eby, Andrew Herbert, Phil Mainwaring, Andy Taylor, John Wilson and Matt Yeomans (reserve).

Originally used by the Atomic Energy Research  Establishment in Harwell between 1951 and 1957, the Harwell Dekatron machine was regarded as slow but extremely reliable. It was then given to the Wolverhampton and Staffordshire Technical College, as a teaching computer, where it was renamed “Witch”.

Between late 2009 and 2012, a TNMOC team of volunteers restored the machine and it was rebooted on 20 November 2012 in the presence of two of the original designers and two former users.

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