Playing Tic-Tac-Toe With a 1966 Computer

Chris Higgins
YouTube / Computerphile
YouTube / Computerphile / YouTube / Computerphile

In this delightful ten-minute video, Jeremy Thackray demonstrates the power of the Elliott 903 computer. The 903 dates to 1966, and is one of the few vintage computers at Cambridge's Centre for Computing History that's still up and running.

In the first bit, Thackray plays Noughts & Crosses (known to Americans as "Tic-Tac-Toe") and, predictably, the computer is quite good at it. At around five minutes in, Thackray reads in a new program, showing the speed of the paper-tape reader in loading the program (it really zips through the paper!). Behold the wicked power of 1966 computing:

I love the part at 8:35 when Thackray uses a machine to re-wrap the paper tape. There's a certain physicality to this computer that we've lost with modern machines. Remember: Even if its programs are on paper tape, a computer can still crush humans. Very, very, slowly.