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Ferranti was an old (founded in 1882) British electrical engineering and equipment company, originally involved in producing equipment for electricity supply. By WW2 they had also become involved in electronics, and during the war had been involved in radar work. Like many others, their acquaintance with circuits that used pulses made the jump to computers an easy one.

They had contacts with the team at Manchester University who did the Manchester Mark I (also known as MADAM and MADM), so it was natural that they manufactured the productized version of that machine, the Ferranti Mark 1, for Manchester. When it was delivered in February, 1951, it was the world’s first production computer.

Through the 1950's, they continued to produce computers for the scientific and engineering market, including the Pegasus and Mercury. Later, they also made the Atlas, which was the biggest and fastest computer in the world at the time of introduction (1962), but, of more note in the longer term, was the machine on which virtual memory was introduced. The latter two were also based on machines done at Manchester.

In 1963, its commercial computing activities were merged into ICT, leaving Ferranti with only smaller real-time machines, for the industrial and military fields.

Further reading

  • John F. Wilson, Ferranti: A History - Volume I: Building a Family Business, 1882–1975, Carnegie Publishing, Lancaster, 2001
  • John F. Wilson, Ferranti: A History - Volume 2: From Family Firm to Multinational, 1975-1987, Crucible Books, Lancaster, 2007
  • Simon H. Lavington, Early Computing in Britain: Ferranti Ltd. and Government Funding, 1948-1958, Springer Nature, Cham, 2019 - mostly about the Mark 1, but has something about the other Ferranti machines

External links