Papers of Professor Sir Frederic Calland Williams

Scope and Content

The following papers cover most aspects of Williams' university career, the National Research Development Corporation material being particularly extensive:

  • NAHC/MUC/1/A: Biographical and Personal Papers, 1964-1978;
  • NAHC/MUC/1/B: Correspondence, 1947-1969;
  • NAHC/MUC/1/C: Unpublished Drafts and Working Papers, 1946-1975;
  • NAHC/MUC/1/D: Publications, 1939-1976.

Administrative / Biographical History

Frederic Calland Williams (1911-1977) was appointed to the Chair of Electrotechnics in the University of Manchester in December 1946. His wartime work had involved radar development at the Telecommunications Research Establishment (TRE) in Malvern. Here he had begun his work on cathode ray tube storage, which he was to bring to a successful conclusion at Manchester University with his invention of the "Williams' tube". The work involved the collaboration of Tom Kilburn, whose name appears alongside Williams on many of the Manchester patents.

The first patent for the "Williams Storage System"was filed on 11 December 1946 by the Ministry of Supply. This and a large number of other patents were managed by the National Research Development Corporation (NRDC). The NRDC negotiated rights on the Williams' tube with IBM and defended the invention when rival claims were made on the tube in the USA. Within the University, Williams defended the then novel idea that the discoverer should be able to patent the results of university research.