We Built Our Own Computers

At the age of about 15 and in the 5th Form at Queen Charlotte College in Picton, we had a wonderful Mathematics Teacher and mentor, Malcolm Gray. He was an inspiration to several of us, not only as a teacher of the ‘New Maths’ but in Electronics, Photography and as our Presbyterian Bible Class leader.

With the help of a book entitled ‘We Built Our Own Computers’, Malcolm encouraged three of us - John (now Hammond) Peek, Graham (“Scrub”) Woolley and me - to build one of the featured projects. This was in 1967 or thereabouts, long before even calculators were commonplace. Our project was the Binary Adder, but with (from memory) 5 bits, not the 3 bits of the book version. Very daring! My (late) father, Jock Penney, built the wooden part of the case, we used perspex for the front panel and I seem to recall most of the wiring and soldering was my task.

The project was a considerable success, eventually seeing us feature in an article in the local paper, the Marlborough Express. I know I still have a copy of the article but I concede I cannot find it.

These images are from the book and show the range of projects included.