Something for the weekend: Whatever happened to Baby computer?
Following our passing reference to the remains of the 1948-vintage ‘Baby’ computer, Team Insider spotted in the MOSI Museum of Science & Industry in Manchester earlier this week, we’ve had some requests for further and better particulars, so here we go…
Work started on the Small Scale Experimental Machine (soon christened ‘The Baby’) in 1946 and later transferred to the University of Manchester. By 1948, worked had reached the point where data could be permanently stored as charges in the phosphor within the machine’s cathode ray tube.
How much data? A whole 2048 bits – which is 256 bytes or 0.25kb – and translates to about 256 characters – the equivalent of one-and-a-half tweets in new money.
Sadly, after that, it was all down hill for The Baby, as the project moved on to the Manchester Mark 1 computer which in turn eventually developed into the world’s first general-purpose commercial computer, the Ferranti Mark 1. Still, during its brief moment in the sun, The Baby had the distinction of being the world’s first stored-program electronic digital computer.