Early Ferranti Bracknell Computers

Speaker: Peter Niblett
Date: Thu 17th January 2013
Time: 14:00

Fellows Library of the Science Museum, Exhibition Road, London SW7 2DD

About the seminar

This talk covers an introduction to programming computers and the speaker's contribution to the software for various machines developed largely for Royal Navy real-time ship-borne systems. The rationale behind the Hermes/F1600 range order code is discussed.

Some details are given of the supporting software generated, the program development facilities provided and the type and range of applications undertaken. Mention is made of the emphasis placed on Quality Control procedures to achieve acceptable reliability in the software output.

Other computers developed by DSD, Bracknell are also mentioned.

About the speaker

I first programmed a computer in 1956 to help with my Theoretical Physics research at UCL. I joined Ferranti (Bracknell) in 1958, assigned to military contract work for the Royal Navy. The work expanded rapidly and I was eventually responsible for teams of programmers using the Hermes/F600 range real-time computers, mainly for RN ship-borne applications.

I moved to Cwmbran in 1974 to set up a programming facility to support Bracknell, hoping to benefit from being able to fish in a different pool and to offer a less hectic environment than in the South East to potential staff.

This move was successful and a large part of our Engineering activity was transferred to Cwmbran from the early 80s. I eventually left Line Management and became a Software Consultant to the DSD Management, covering both technical and infrastructure topics (including Expert Systems, Security, Data Networks, etc.) with continual liaison with other parts of the Company.

I left in 1990 as the situation which led to the Company's demise developed.

Click to see a podcast of the event