Showing posts from January, 2019

Early computing in Britain

Yesterday I spent a fascinating afternoon at a BCS Computer Conservation Society meeting, listening to Professor Simon Lavington's outstanding talk on Early Computing in Britain. Simon described the genesis of  Feranti's Mark I and I* computers and their early history in the late 1940s and early 1950s. This was a seminal period in the history of computing. I was just too young to experience it, but the first two computers I programmed were Ferranti Machines. Back in 1958, as an 11-year old, I wrote a short program in Pegasus Autocode; I finally debugged it a few years ago! Some years later, in 1966, I was lucky enough to get a gap year job working for David Hendry on the BCL compiler for Atlas , then the most powerful computer in the world. I knew very little about the Ferranti Mark I which was the predecessor of the Pegasus. Like all electronic computers of those early days the Mark I used valves (vacuum tubes) which were prone to failure when their filaments broke. A