Papers relating to Department of Computer Science/ICL Legal Case

Scope and Content

The archive comprises the majority of 246 documents used by the University as evidence in its dispute with ICL. These documents were produced by the Department of Computer Science, and date from the 1950s to the 1970s. They include internal administrative documents, and various printed materials (such as computer manuals, reports, and other grey literature). Some of the documents relate directly to the development of the MU5 computer, but also its predecessors at the Department as the University wished to demonstrate continuity and lineage of its contributions to mainframe computing. The collection does not include any material directly relating to the legal case, although some of these papers are retained at the School of Computer Science .

Not all documents re present in the collection; some which were supplied from outside the Department were returned to their office of custody, while others paper not have been retained after the case was settled. Items have not been located, and have possibly been destroyed. Bursar's files relating to the Computing Machine Laboratory, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science departments are believed to have been returned to the Bursar's Office after the completion of the case; their current whereabouts are unknown. Items 136-139 were Vice-Chancellor's files relating to Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Departments, these are now part of the Vice-Chancellor's archive (VCA/7/1061-1064).Some other documents have also not been located.

Administrative / Biographical History

In the 1970s, there was a legal case between the University of Manchester and International Computers Ltd. concerning intellectual property issues relating to the ICL 2900 computer. The University held that ICL had not acknowledged the contribution of Department of Computing Science staff in developing certain aspects of this commercial computer, which was based on the Department's MUC5 computer. In the event, the matter was settled out of court in 1981, with compensation being paid to the University.

During the course of this dispute, the University identified a number of documents as evidence for its case, and it is some of these documents which constitute the following archive.

It has been decided to retain these documents as a discrete collection within the overall Department of Computer Science archives, as their original administrative context has been lost. The collection does not include any material directly relating to the legal case. The main value of the documents is they contain important information on the work of the Department in this period, and are the surviving remnant t of larger bodies of records, many of which have since been destroyed.


The documents are retained in the original order given in the schedule of documents used for the legal case. Documents were arranged simply with a sequential running number. These numbers, which appear on the documents, have been retained as the "Original reference".