Ferranti Mark 1 Computer - Everything you need to know  (2023)

Ferranti Mark 1 Computer - Everything you need to know  (1)
Ferranti Mark 1 Computer - Everything you need to know  (2)

Five facts about the Ferranti Mark 1 computer

  • The Mark 1 displayed a 20-bit word as a single line of electrically charged dots on the surface of a Williams tube display, with each cathode tube storing 64 rows of dots.
  • The Ferranti Mark 1 specification was uniquely similar to the final Manchester Mark 1 standard. To improve reliability, the Ferranti Mark 1 restored only one page per CRT.
  • Numbers were stored in two words, but the Ferranti Mark 1 stored instructions in one word.
  • The main memory consisted of eight tubes, each of which could store a page of 64 words.
  • A beep command was included in the Ferranti Mark 1 command set, allowing the system to provide audible feedback to its operators.

The history of the Ferranti Mark 1 computer: what you should know

The machine was invented by Ferranti of Great Britain and is based on the Manchester Mark 1 designed byfreddy williamsmitom kilburnat the University of Manchester. The significant differences between them were the size of primary and secondary memory, a faster multiplier, and more instructions.

Ferranti Mark 1 Computer - Everything you need to know  (3)

A complete version ofsmall experimental machine(also known as Baby) was underway only two months after successful trials in June 1948. Ferranti considered commercial manufacture, although the transition to commercial production was far from assured due to financial difficulties. On February 12, 1951, the manufacturer delivered the first machine to the University of Manchester. Later he sold seven revised versions.

Fast facts

Precio original
About $30,000
units sold

A 20-bit word was stored as a single row of dots of electrical charges arranged on the surface of a Williams tube screen, with each cathode tube storing 64 rows of dots. The main memory consisted of eight tubes, each of which could hold one page of 64 comments. The unique 80-bit accumulator (A), 40-bit "multiplication/quotient" (MQ) register, and eight "B-rows" or index registers were stored in different tubes, which was one of the Mark 1's distinguishing features . Design. Ferranti Mark 1 could also use two 40-bit words to address the accumulator. An offset value was stored in secondary storage using an additional 20-bit word per pipe.

For secondary storage, a 30-millisecond rotating 512-page magnetic drum containing two pages per track was used. The drum had eight times the storage capacity of the original Manchester design.

The instructions used a single address format with modified operands and were stored in the accumulator as in the Manchester machine. The total number of instructions was about fifty. The Ferranti Mark 1 was able to complete a multiplication of around 2.16 milliseconds on the new parallel drive, which had a crucial cycle time of 1.2 milliseconds (about 5 times faster than the original). The multiplier used almost a fifth of the machine's 4,050 vacuum tubes.

Ferranti Mark 1 computer versions: each edition

mark 1 star

After the first two computers, an improved version of the design known as the Ferranti Mark 1 Star or Ferranti Mark 1* became available. The improvements were mainly focused on cleaning up the instruction set to improve usability. The new machines translated digits to holes instead of the earlier mapping of holes to binary numbers, resulting in significantly simpler mapping.

Several instructions that used the index registers also had side effects that resulted in strange programming, but the manufacturers modified them to eliminate them. Also, the JUMP instructions on the original machines came "one before" the actual address, for reasons related to strange index behavior. Still, they were advantageous in theory and highly impractical in practice, so they were similarly adapted. Finally, as is customary with most written numbers, the five-bit values ​​were generated with the least significant digit on the right. These and other improvements have made newer machines significantly easier to program.

The weight of the Mark 1/1* was 10,000 pounds (5.0 short tons; 4.5 t). Between 1953 and 1957 at least seven Mark 1* computers were delivered to Shell Laboratories in Amsterdam. Another set up shop at Avro's Chadderton factory near Manchester, making aircraft. People have used it in a variety of projects, including Vulcan. The Ferranti Mark 1 and Mark 1* were designed by Conway Berners-Lee and Mary Lee Woods, parents of Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web.

the response of the public

Mark I's professional life was fruitful, both public and private. People used the machine primarily in applied engineering and scientific applications. One of the machines was shipped to Canada and housed at the University of Toronto. One of his first assignments was to do all the engineering calculations for the St. Lawrence Seaway, a series of locks, canals, and causeways that stretch between Canada and the United States.

Will continue...

  • Computer Atlas Explained: Everything You Need to KnowLearn about one of the earliest precursors to the supercomputer: the Atlas computer.
  • The history of the Colossus computerThe Colossus computer helped decipher secret messages to help the British and Americans during World War II. Read the full story here.
  • What is Steam Deck?Are you wondering what exactly Steam Deck is? We answer all your questions in this informative article.

Ferranti Mark 1 Computer - Everything you need to know  FAQs

What is Ferranti Mark 1?

The Ferranti Mark 1 was the world's first commercially available general-purpose digital computer. It was "a more polished and commercialized version of the Manchester Mark I".

Or what does Ferranti Mark 1 mean?

In their sales material, the Ferranti Mark 1 was referred to as the Manchester Electronic Computer, hence the Manchester Ferranti.

How big was the Ferranti Mark 1 computer?

The Ferranti Mark 1's main CPU is housed in two bays, each measuring 5 meters long and 2.7 meters wide.

How much did the Ferranti Mark 1 computer cost?

It was purchased at a "sale price" for around $30,000 and nicknamed FERUT by the University of Toronto.

When was the Ferranti Mark 1 computer developed?

The world's first commercial computer, the Ferranti Mark I, was installed at the University of Manchester in February 1951.

What was the Ferranti Mark 1 computer used for?

The Ferranti Mark 1 was the first commercially available general purpose computer. The Ferranti Mark 1 model was used, among other things, to predict election results, calculate salaries, and create actuarial tables.

Who invented the Ferranti Mark 1 computer?

Developed by Britain's Ferranti, the machine is based on the Manchester Mark 1 designed by Freddie Williams and Tom Kilburn at the University of Manchester.

(Video) The Ghost of Ferranti - all about the pioneering UK chip maker

How much memory did the Ferranti Mark 1 computer have?

The numbers were kept in two words, but the instructions were recorded in a single word (40 bits). The main storage (primary storage) consisted of eight tubes, each containing one page of 64 comments for 512 words in the main storage.

(Video) Ferranti Atlas: Britain's first supercomputer
About the Author

Ferranti Mark 1 Computer - Everything you need to know  (4)


Abby has a B.A. in English and has written short and feature films with a published novel, lyrics and poetry. She has also given interviews and articles on the folk music industry. In addition to writing and editing for A-Z-Animals and History-Computer, she writes for an ezine that features educational and entertainment materials. She has built several websites from scratch and provided them with content. In her spare time she loves science fiction and board games.

More on Computer History

Meta Quest 2 vs Oculus Quest 2: Is there a difference?

Nvidia RTX 3080 vs 3080-Ti: Full Comparison With Specs, Price & More
(Video) The First Day as a Programmer for the Manchester Mark 1 by Olaf Chedzoyk

The world's 10 biggest chipmakers and what they do
(Video) Ferranti Mark I

The 10 largest and most important battery manufacturers in the world

  • Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ferranti_Mark_1
  • Available here: https://www.bcs.org/articles-opinion-and-research/the-ferranti-mark-1-its-public-and-secret-life/
(Video) The Demise of Ferranti


1. Manchester University Transistor Computer
(Computer History Museum)
2. Top 10 Oldest Computers In The World | 2020
(Old Things)
3. Ferranti Argus 500 - restoration and demonstration | 1960's computer
4. 10 Famous People from Birmingham
(مشاهير وأشخاص)
5. Manchester Baby: world's first stored program computer
6. First Recorded Computer Music
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Virgilio Hermann JD

Last Updated: 03/10/2023

Views: 6031

Rating: 4 / 5 (41 voted)

Reviews: 80% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Virgilio Hermann JD

Birthday: 1997-12-21

Address: 6946 Schoen Cove, Sipesshire, MO 55944

Phone: +3763365785260

Job: Accounting Engineer

Hobby: Web surfing, Rafting, Dowsing, Stand-up comedy, Ghost hunting, Swimming, Amateur radio

Introduction: My name is Virgilio Hermann JD, I am a fine, gifted, beautiful, encouraging, kind, talented, zealous person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.