Computer ◆ Conservation ◆ Society
Title:

Seminar on EMI computers – A Reminder

Speakers: Keith Crook, Michael Knight, David Robinson, and Alan Thomson
Date: 19th February 2009
Time: 14.30 Room is open from 14.00 - meet up with society members
Location: Fellows Library of the Science Museum, Exhibition Road, London, SW7 2DD

About the seminar

We will begin with a 20-minutes Emidec promotional film made in 1961; not just technologically quaint, but a wonderful socio-economic historical document.

Michael Knight will describe the first commercial EMI computer, the Emidec 1100, at least from a trainee programmer's perspective. David Robinson will add more on the innards of the Emidec 1100, which was one of the first computers to use transistors.

Keith Crook will then describe the very large Emidec 2400 computer, and some of its distinctive features.

The Emidec 2400 was a NRDC funded development. Alan Thomson will describe the role of the NRDC in EMI computer development. The National Research Development Corporation was a government body charged with assisting the growth of the British computer industry in the 50’s and 60’s – with varying degrees of successs.

About the speakers

Michael Knight graduated from Cambridge University in 1961 (a History degree) and joined EMI as a trainee programmer, where he learned the rudiments of computing and contributed almost nothing of value. He thus feels a debt to Emidec and regrets that its existence and achievements are so often overlooked.

David Robinson was one of the designers of the 1100 in the EMI development team at Hayes. He studied mathematics at Kings College London and joined EMI in 1955 after completing his National Service. After his work on the EMIDEC 1100 he continued to work on other computer-related projects, and on the numerical control on machine tools. He left EMI in 1964 and joined Shell, where he worked in IT until his retirement in 1987.

Keith Crook graduated from Nottingham University in 1955 and started in the Emidec team shortly afterwards. There were very few computers in the country at that time, and they were designing from a blank sheet. It was probably the most exciting time of his entire career.

Alan Thomson graduated from Glasgow University in 1962, and joined a contemporaneous computer development. Continued working in systems development in ICL until 2002, and is interested in the history of the companies which formed ICL.

Background

The Emidec 1100 website has much about the computer, and memories of the EMI Computer Services Division at Hayes.

For a description of EMI's first, and even more forgotten computer, CP402 and its derivative 407, see the article written by Ron Clayden in Resurrection issue 16 December 1996.