Recollections ofManchester University

(1945 - 1955)

After more than 50 years and a separation of more than 40 years from the people and the place it is indeed a challenge for me to reconstruct a picture of those exciting times. I will do my best.

We are fortunate to be able to access so many excellent records and histories that have been maintained and made available universally through the power of the internet and the industry of our historians and librarians. I thank you all for stimulating my memories of those times.

I will now attempt to add some information that might not be recorded.

The arrival of two young Welshmen straight from the first post war degree course in the Physics Department at Manchester in the (Electro-Technics) Electrical Engineering Department was in itself a curiosity. Dai (Edwards) and I had chosen the electronics option in our third year in the Physics Department and had come under the spell of Freddie Williams.

Following graduation in the summer of 1948 we were given the choice of National Service, Coal Mining, Nuclear Engineering or Control/Electronic engineering. We had no difficulty in deciding to move along the yellow tiled corridor and enter the wonderful world of bottoming pentodes and pugnatrons that F.C. had fascinated us with in our final year as undergraduates.

Therefore in September 1948 resplendent in our new white lab coats we arrived in the period immediately following the birth of the "baby" and were soon involved in its development into the working prototypes used by Ferranti to design and produce their first commercial machine the Ferranti Mark 1.

I will expand on two aspects of those years in Manchester first that of the magnetic drum development activity and then the use that I observed made of the Manchester Autocode tradition in industry and in Universities outwith its place of origin.

On the date of delivery of this paper here in Manchester (Thursday 18 June) we are able to capture these pictures of the original team of engineers who built the Baby and then developed it as a prototype for the Ferranti Mark 1

Tom Kilburn centre front, Geoff Tootill left back and Alec Robinson front right built the baby in 1947/48

Laurie Allard right back developed the CRT's at GEC

Dai Edwards centre back and Tommy Thomas left front joined the Mark 1 team in September 1948.

We hope to capture more pictures during the celebration.

This page is reproduced from www.tommythomas.org.uk with kind permission of Tommy Thomas