The Ferranti Mark 1 ushered in the era of commercial computing. Having already completed work on a fast-evolving series of experimental computing machines, Manchester scientists Tom Kilburn (1921-2001) and Freddie Williams (1911-77) went on to develop a commercially viable model. This was the Ferranti Mark I, the first of which was delivered to Manchester University in February 1951, only one month before the competing UNIVAC I began work in the USA.
Alongside its claim to fame as the world’s first commercially available general-purpose electronic computer, the Ferranti Mark 1 was also used to produce what is thought to be the earliest recording of electronic music. The songs ‘Baa, Baa, Black Sheep’ and a shortened version of ‘In the Mood’ were played on the computer in the autumn of 1951 in Manchester and recorded by the BBC. In addition, Dietrich Prinz wrote a chess program for the Mark 1 - the first computer chess game.
- North West
- University of Manchester
- Key Individuals
- Freddie Williams, Tom Kilburn,