Stardust: tales from the early days of computing, 1948 – 1958

Speaker: Simon Lavington

Thursday 17th January 2019

Tue 19th February 2019


17:00 for 17:30

BCS, 5 Southampton St, London WC2E 7HA

Manchester Metropolitan University, Room 5.05




About the seminar

This is the story of the life and times of nine Ferranti Mark I and Mark I Star computers that were launched into an unsuspecting market place between 1951 and 1957. This was a family of very early supercomputers, digital dinosaurs that lumbered from Manchester to Toronto, Amsterdam and Rome, consuming a diet of applications that ranged from atomic weapons to cotton spinning to music. This is, above all, the story of the people who struggled to tame the dinosaurs and put their primitive powers to useful work. Many of these pioneers are still alive, which has permitted the talk to be embellished with rare photos and intriguing personal anecdotes. Whilst the talk does give plenty of technical details, the socio-economic and human backdrop always shines through.

About the speaker

Professor Simon Lavington is a stalwart of the Society and an authority on early British computers. He has published several books on the subject, most recently a comprehensive history of the Ellioitt company.

Click to see a podcast of this event.