tom kilburn

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Tom Killburn

August 11th 1921, Dewsbury, Yorkshire, UK

January 17th 2001, Manchester, UK

under construction


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Developed the binary adder


Tom Killburn 1942

"... the most exciting time was June 1948 when the first machine worked. Without question. Nothing could ever compare with that."
Tom Kilburn, Autumn 1992 (2)

Chronology (1)

1942-46 War Work on Radar at TRE Malvern Member of F.C. Williams' electronic problem-solving group at TRE.
1947 The Williams-Kilburn Tube and the Baby
First effective storage device for electronic computers (2048 bits on a CRT)
1948 June "Baby", first working electronic stored-program computer ("ESPC")
The Manchester and Ferranti Mark 1s
Oct Basic design of Manchester Mark 1

1949 Apr Intermediary Version working (first full-sized ESPC)
Oct Full Manchester Mark 1 working (first ESPC with address registers and two-level store) --
1951 Feb First Ferranti Mark 1 delivered (first production ESPC).
Tom Kilburn takes over leadership of computer development from F.C. Williams. Computing Service started for wide range of organisations (becomes an independent service late 1960s).
1953 MEG and the Transistor Computer working
1954 Ffloating-point computer, MEG
1955 Expanded TC version (turned into production MV950 in 1956). MEG becomes production Ferranti Mercury 1957.
1956 MUSE/Atlas project started; aim 1,000 times faster than Mark 1s. Massive innovative effort moving from early '50s computer state to mid '60s. Effort required on 3 fronts: hardware techniques, operating systems and multi compiler production
1959 Ferranti joins project, renamed Atlas
1962 Atlas starts working
1963 Software fully working. Arguably most powerful and sophisticated computer in the world. In general the innovation matches simultaneous leading-edge projects in US, but is carried out largely independent of them. Main unique features Virtual Memory and (Brooker's) Compiler Compiler.
1964 The Department of Computer Science First UK (European?) Computer Science department.
1966-74 MU5 New machine with architecture dedicated to high-level language requirements.
1970 Makes major contribution to new ICL 2900 series architecture.
1972 Working with major O/S and compiler production system (under Derrick Morris) fully operational in 1973.

Honors and Awards

1965 Fellow of the Royal Society
1973 C.B.E.
1976 FEng, founder member of the Fellowship of Engineering
1978 Royal Medal of the Royal Society
1982 Computer Pioneer Award, IEEE Computer Society
1983 Eckert-Mauchly Award, ACM & IEEE Computer Society


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