Features of the Ferranti Atlas Computer.

[London: Printed by Specialised Printing Services Ltd.] May 1961

A4 (217 x 210 mm), 2 leaves, 13 pages, 9 leaves of photographic and line illustrations. Original grey printed wrappers, blue comb binding. Bookplate of the Lyon Playfair Library, Imperial College, London, with stamps on title-page and a sticker removed, shelfmark on verso, and two small stickers on upper cover.

“In 1956 the Manchester University computer team, under [Professor] Tom Kilburn [shown in plate 2], began working on the design of a supercomputer, originally called the MUSE (for microsecond engine), that was intended to be one thousand times faster than the Ferranti Mark I. The size and speed of this new computer meant that it would no longer be possible to run programs in series, since too much time would be spent transferring data between random access memory and peripheral devices such as magnetic drums and discs and other basic peripherals. To enable efficient use of the equipment and rapid turnaround of user jobs, the Manchester team developed what are now well-known techniques, such as multiprogramming, interrupts, pipelining, virtual storage, and paging. The work done on this computer project together with that arising from two parallel projects in the United States, laid the foundations for the hardware and software of the large mainframes of the 1960s and 1970s… At the time, Atlas was reckoned to be the most powerful computer in the world…” (Hook & Norman, Origins of cyberspace, note to item 604, another document on the Ferranti Atlas).


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