Ferranti Orion 1: An Introductory Overview

Speaker: Chris Burton
Date: Tue 27th November 2001
Time: 17:00 for 17:30 (probably)
Location: Manchester Science and Industry Museum



About the seminar

The talk summarises various aspects of the hardware of Orion 1. The software of that computer is touched upon minimally where it is relevant.

Topics discussed include the context of the development of this system in the Ferranti computer department in late 1950s - early 1960s. This is followed by an outline of the specification of the machine, and why it was designed that way by reference to its technology. A few of its unusual design feature are presented, followed by a superficial note about the forward-looking software characteristics. Finally, a few words about Orion’s rise and fall.

The presentation was dedicated to the late Charlie Portman who did so much to get the machine working and out to customers.

About the speaker

After a couple of years maintaining the Ferranti Perseus system in Bracknell and Stockholm, the speaker transferred into the development department and joined the Orion team for the final few years of its design completion. He then commissioned the second production machine at the Ferranti, London, Computer Centre. Thereafter he was involved with the early work concerned with transforming the FP6000 to the 1904, the basis of the ICT/ICL 1900 Series; managed the design of the early large 2900 series processors; then participated in advanced system developments; and finally had a senior role in the Alvey Project.

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