National Archive for the History of Computing: Ferranti Ltd Collection

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Collection of documents relating to Ferranti Ltd's computer projects. Most of the collection (FER/C) comprises working papers and reports from the 1940s to the 1970s relating to the Mark I, MArk II and Atlas computers.

Administrative / Biographical History

A Ferranti Computer Group was set up in 1949 at the factory in Moston under J.D. Carter, manager of the Instrument Department, to make the computer designed by Professor F.C. Williams of Manchester University. Henceforth, in close collaboration with Manchester University, Ferranti produced a string of technically successful machines: the Pegasus, Mercury, Perseus, Sirius and Orion. Development work culminated in the ATLAS computer which, when it was delivered in December 1962, was considered to be the fastest computer in the world. Ferranti also installed the first computer in Canada (the Ferut), and its Canadian subsidiary (Ferranti-Packard) developed the FP6000 (the rights on which were later acquired by ICT). The commercial returns, however, were less satisfactory and in September 1963 Ferranti sold its computer interests to ICT. The firm, however, continued its development work on computerised control and command systems.

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open to any accredited reader.

Acquisition Information

Manchester University Computer Science Department, courtesy Professor D.B.G. Edwards. Material collected by Professor Simon Lavington. Ferranti Packard documents donated by John M. Chapman.

Related Material

See also the D.G. Prinz, Manchester University Department of Computer Science and NRDC collections ( NAHC/PRI NAHC/MUC; NAHC/NRD). The NAHC has an extensive collection of Ferranti catalogues and reports in the computer literature collection (NAHC/CL) and trade catalogue collection (NAHC/TC). More general corporate and business archives relating to Ferranti can be found at the Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester 2002.22

Bibliography

S. Lavington, Early British Computers (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1980).

Geographical Names