Manchester University computer. Inaugural conference. Manchester University.

Manchester University computer. Inaugural conference.

Publisher Information: Bolton: Tillotson's, 1951.

“The Best Single Account of the Ferranti Mark I Computer”

Manchester University. Manchester University computer. Inaugural conference. July [9-12] 1951. [Bolton: Tillotson’s, 1951.] 40pp. Text illustrations. 282 x 215 mm. Original maroon printed stiff wrappers, title gilt-stamped on upper wrapper, bound with a maroon cord at the spine. Label removed from spine, light edgewear, but very good. From the library of the Institut für Praktische Mathematik, Technische Hochschule, Darmstadt, with library stamps on front wrapper and title-leaf.

First Edition. Rare program from the Manchester University Computer Inaugural Conference, the second of the early British computer conferences after the Cambridge University conference held in June 1949. “The Manchester University Conference was held to inaugurate the Ferranti Mark I computer. The machine had been delivered to the University in February 1951 and by the time of the conference it was at the center of a flourishing computer laboratory. The Ferranti Mark I was the first commercially manufactured computer in Britain (and arguably in the world). To commemorate the event Ferranti underwrote the cost of the slim but elegant conference proceedings. . . . The Mark I itself was described by F. C. Williams, and the corresponding paper in the proceedings, which is superbly illustrated, is the best single account of the Ferranti Mark I computer” (Williams and Campbell-Kelly, The Early British Computer Conferences [1989], xiii).

As a major English industrial concern embarking upon a new business, Ferranti seems to have planned this conference with sales in mind. The program for the conference was elegantly printed and illustrated (a notable contract to the Cambridge conference’s dittoed and mimeographed conference materials), and was probably intended at least in part as a sales brochure. The list of attendees at the meeting published at the back of the proceedings shows that at least half were representatives of large industrial concerns—potential buyers of the Mark I—rather than the small group of academics and computing professionals that had attended the Cambridge conference two years earlier. In keeping with the commercial aspects of the conference, the manager of sales for the computer division of Ferranti, Dr. B. V. Bowden, delivered a paper on “The application of calculating machines to business and commerce” promoting the use of computers in these fields:

"Far more arithmetic is done every day for the purposes of business and commerce than is done in all the scientific and mathematical laboratories of the world. It is reasonable to enquire if these computing machines, which have been designed so far for purely scientific use, can be applied to the general problems of business and commerce. It is as well to remind ourselves of the speed of which these machines are capable; for example, experience shows that the average comptometer operator will perform and check about four hundred 10 x 10 decimal digital multiplications in an average eight-hour working day. The Manchester University machine on the other hand will multiply two 10-digit numbers together in less than three milliseconds, which means that it will, in a few seconds, do as much work as a comptometer operator does in a day. Furthermore, the machine is capable of remembering several hundred thousand digits, which is equivalent to the contents of a small filing system, all this information being available to the machine almost instantaneously whenever required" (p. 30).

Bowden later edited Faster than Thought, first published in 1953. Origins of Cyberspace 774 (this copy).

Book Id: 43247

Price: $7,500.00

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