The ‘Baby’ that ushered in modern computer age


A machine that took up an entire room at a laboratory in Manchester University ran its first program at 11am on 21 June 1948.

The prototype completed the task in 52 minutes, having run through 3.5 million calculations.

The Manchester Baby, known formally as the Small-Scale Experimental Machine, was the world’s first stored-program computer.

It paved the way for the first commercially-available computers in a city known for centuries of science and innovation.

Dr “Tommy” Gordon Thomas was 19 and in the final year of a physics degree at Manchester when he met Sir Freddie Williams, who designed The Baby with colleagues Tom Kilburn and Geoff Tootill.

Now aged 90, he talked to BBC News from his home in New South Wales, Australia, about his memories of the ground-breaking machine.

“My job was to build a cradle for the baby,” says Dr Thomas. “It was a group of people who had worked together during the war…

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Last modified: July 2, 2018

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