History of Computing Collection: Computer Manuals Collection

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 133 NAHC/MAN
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      407 items
  • Location
      Collection available at University Archive and Records Centre, main University Library.

Scope and Content

This mixed collection of manuals and brochures provides details of some of the earliest computing machines used in the UK from the 1940s to the 1980s. 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, as well as in technical and promotional brochures produced by computer companies. US companies make a substantial proportion of the collection, with material dating from the 1950s to the 1980s.

Computer manufacturers represented include: Powers-Samas, Ferranti (Argus, Pegasus, mercury, Atlas), English Electric (Deuce), ICT/ICL (1300 to 1900 series), Elliot Automation, LEO Computers Ltd. GEC, EMI, Data Recording Equipment Ltd., Business Information technology, RCA, Motorola, Semiconductors Ltd., Control Data Corporation, Electronic associates Inc., Nova computers, Mullard Ltd., Data General Corporation and IBM. There are programming guides and technical descriptions to mainframe computers, and also computer-related equipment including semiconductors, transistors, photocells, diodes, rectifiers and amplifiers.

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 HHC collections such as EEC, Ferranti and ICT/ICL.

Former reference: NAHC/MUC/4

Administrative / Biographical History

See Scope and Content note.


Arrangement is artificial, imposed by the archivist. When the collection was originally catalogued, standard NAHC series designations were used, although in this case, there is only a single 'D' (publications) series. This arrangement has been retained. Material is primarily arranged by firm and date of issue; in some cases, there is further subdivision into model type/version.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

Most of the items in this collection were collected by the former Department of Computer Science of the University of Manchester, and passed to the National Archive for the History of Computing in the 1990s. Some items were donated to the NAHC directly by interested parties(in these cases, donation information is given at the item level description).

Alternative Form Available

It is likely that copies of many of these publications exist at other locations.

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.


A decision has not yet been taken on whether this is an accruing archive. However, it is likely that any further computer manuals which do not form an integral part of another archive will be added to this collection.

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