Ferranti Mark I computer logic door

Contributed by Museum of Science and Industry

Ferranti Mark I computer logic door displayed in MOSI's Electricity Gallery. @Museum of Science & Industry

A tiny modern microchip has far more processing power than this valve-operated logic door.The Ferranti Mark I computer installed at the University of Manchester in February 1951 was the world's first commercial computer. It was based on the Small Scale Experimental Machine (nicknamed the 'Baby') and the full-scale Manchester Mark I computer, both developed at the University. The Baby was the world's first stored-program computer.

The Government's scientific advisor, Sir Ben Lockspeiser, saw the Baby in October 1948. Four months later he offered an annual grant of £35,000 for five years towards its commercial development. The Ferranti Mark I computer was built at the company's Moston factory.

Alan Turing, then director of the University's computer laboratory, wrote the operating manual for the Ferranti Mark I. The University decommissioned the computer in 1959. It was dismantled and given back to Ferranti. However, most of it was scrapped, leaving only four logic doors, a drum read head and two blocks of static heads.

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