Computer ◆ Conservation ◆ Society

Manchester “Baby” or Small Scale Experimental Machine

Williams and Kilburn built the Small-Scale Experimental Machine at Manchester University as the smallest practicable computer to check out the CRT store later to become known as the “Williams Tube” store. The SSEM was also known familiarly as the Baby Machine.

It successfully ran a factorising program written by Kilburn on the morning of 21st June 1948, believed to be the first time a stored program had ever run on an electronic computer anywhere in the world.

Further development and additions to the SSEM led to a machine suitable for productive computing, referred to as the Manchester University Mark I, from mid-1949 onwards. In turn, this was developed and engineered by Ferranti Ltd to become the Ferranti Mark I and Mark I* computers.

Because of the simplicity and historical importance of the SSEM, several emulators are in existence. Included here are:

32 64 containing an emulator for MS-DOS by Lee Wittenberg

64 containing an emulator for Windows by Lee Wittenberg.

32 64 containing an emulator by Andy Molyneux of Manchester University. This was on public display at the press launch of the SSEM Rebuild Project, 5th March 1996.

to the website of an emuator by David Sharp written in Java (and hence available across a wide range of platforms) either as an application or as an applet. This emulator is on display next to the SSEM replica at MSI and is strongly recommended by the SSEM replica team.