History in depth
From the pioneering Baby computer to the world-renowned work of Alan Turing, computer science at Manchester has changed the world.
Find out more about the early work carried out by the Department of Computer Science by exploring the features below.
Tales of Manchester's history
Watch the clips below to get an idea of Manchester's history; including the Ferranti Atlas supercomputer and Tom Kilburn reflecting on his groundbreaking work.
Celebrating our heritage
Explore the commemorative events and website features that detail events from our Department's history in further detail.
The Small-Scale Experimental Machine, nicknamed the "Baby", was designed and built at The University of Manchester, and made its first successful run of a program on June 21 1948. Computer 50 celebrated its 50th anniversary with an in-depth website.
Digital 60 was a commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the first stored program computer - the Small-Scale Experimental Machine (nicknamed "Baby"). As part of the celebrations a number of events were held - documented by the Digital 60 website.
Digital 60: Play with the Baby
As part of the 60th anniversary celebrations, people were invited to race the Baby computer using their 2008 mobile phones. More activities and information can be found on the Digital 60 website.
The high-performance Atlas computer was developed in the period 1956 – 1962 by a team led by Professor Tom Kilburn at The University of Manchester. This website collects a number of Atlas anecdotes and histories.
BBC Archive: Electronic Brain (1949)
Watch a BBC news report from 1949 describing how the "electronic brain" that was the Manchester Mark 1 computer could solve maths problems at the rapid speed of 25 minutes (well, after a week of setup).
The Turing Centenary Conference
June 23, 2012 marked the centenary of the birth of Alan Turing. Turing worked at the University with philosophers on the Turing Test, wrote one of the first chess algorithms and pioneered work on biological morphogenesis.
Here are a range of online resources that delve even further into computer history:
Different uses for computers
From the outset, Manchester computers were used for many different things. As well as Alan Turing’s chess algorithms, the earliest remaining recoding of computer music was made by the Manchester Mk1 computer in 1951 at the same time as some of the earliest known computer generated love letters.
- The History Channel website on Turing's chess algorithms.
- Oldest known recording of computer music unveiled on BBC News.
- Hear the Manchester Mk1 computer generated music from 1951.
- Computer 'love letters' revealed at MSI in Manchester on BBC News.
The replica Baby computer can be seen in the Science and Industry Museum, Manchester.
To learn more about computer history, there are many museums with important collections including: