History of Computing Collection: Technical Manuals Collection

  • Reference
      GB 133 NAHC/MAN
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
      English unless otherwise stated.
  • Physical Description
      12 li.m.
  • Location
      Collection available at University Archive and Records Centre, main University Library.

Scope and Content

Computer manuals, technical magazines and brochures dating from the 1940s to the early 1990s. This collection largely consists of material from the Department of Computer Science at the University of Manchester., although additional material has been acquired from other sources. The collection offers an insight on the development of analogue and digital computing between the 1940s and the 1980s by showing the technical details of machines as described in computer manuals, technical and promotional brochures produced by computer houses.

There is a particularly good coverage of computers manufactured by Ferranti (Pegasus, Mercury, Perseus, Sirius, Orion, Atlas, Argus), ICT/ICL (1300, 1500, 1900 models, DRS), English Electric (DEUCE), Elliott Automation, GEC (4000, 4100 series), EMI (EMIDEC) as well as US companies including Honeywell, Burroughs, Electronic Associates, DEC, Control Data Corporation, IBM and Calcomp. There are also manuals relating to components and semiconductors.

The collection assists those who want to know more about technical publications or promote a comparative analysis between the progress of computing technologies in Britain and the US. It can also supply additional information for historical research on other NAHC collections such as EEC, Ferranti and ICT/ICL. Firms represented in this catalogued collection include:

The Collection includes a significant amount of uncatalogued material. Firms and organisations represented in the uncatalogued section include: AEI, Allied Computer Technology, Applied Data, BBC Computers, Block and Anderson, Brunsviga, California Computer production, CDC, Computer Control Co., Computer Research Co., Condor, Creed, Data General, Digital Equipment Electronic Associates, Electronic Machines Ltd., Ferranti, ETA Systems, Facit, Fairey Aviation, General Electric, Honeywell, IBM, Indata, Intel, Metropolitan Vickers ltd., National Physical laboratory, NCR, Norsk Data Electronic, Olivetti, Oracle, Quantime, Raytheon, RCA, Redifon, Royal McDee Corp., SEA, Short Bros., Sinclair Computers, Solartron Electronic, Ludwig Spitz Ltd., STC, Trend Computing, Underwood Corp., Univac.

Administrative / Biographical History

See Scope and Content Note


It is arranged by the place of production; the firm; and the date of production. In some more relevant cases (i.e. Ferranti, ICT/ICL) it is also arranged by the machine name. When possible, the items in this collection refer to other items in the NAHC catalogue discussing the same subject (e.g. Pegasus [see also items MUC/32; NRD/C31 and C35; PRI/C4; ARL/D4]). 

Access Information

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

The majority of the manuals listed in this catalogue were acquired by the University of Manchester Department of Computer Science, where they were used as part of a technical literature collection. This collection was transferred to the NAHC in the late 1980s. Most material about LEO and Deuce was donated by Mr. Andrew J. Holliman in 1994 [all material from IEE Archives, donated by Tim Procter, assistant archivist on 14 November 1994]

Other Finding Aids


Alternative Form Available

Copies of some of these manuals may exist in other collections.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies and photographic copies of material in the archive can be supplied for private study purposes only, depending on the condition of the documents.

A number of items within the archive remain within copyright under the terms of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; it is the responsibility of users to obtain the copyright holder's permission for reproduction of copyright material for purposes other than research or private study.

Prior written permission must be obtained from the Library for publication or reproduction of any material within the archive. Please contact the Head of Special Collections, John Rylands Library, 150 Deansgate, Manchester, M3 3EH.


Although this collection is not being actively developed accruals are possible.

Related Material

Other HHC collections which contain material of direct relevance are NAHC/FER English Electric NAHC/EEC, Leo Computers, NAHC/LEO, ICT/ICL NAHC/ICL, and the Trade Catalogue Collection NAHC/TC. See also the Computers in Survey Analysis Collection, NAHC/CSA.