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The Development of Computer Programming in Britain (1945 to 1955)

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129388D
Original Publication Date: 1982-Apr-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-05
Document File: 27 page(s) / 93K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

MARTIN CAMPBELL-KELLY: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

By 1950 there were three influential centers of programming in Britain where working computers had been constructed: Cambridge University (the EDSAC), Manchester University (the Mark IJ, and the National Physical Laboratory (the Pilot ACE). At each of these centers a distinctive style of programming evolved, largely independently of the others.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1982 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.

The Development of Computer Programming in Britain (1945 to 1955)

MARTIN CAMPBELL-KELLY

(Image Omitted: © 1982 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Permission to copy without fee all or part of this material is granted provided that the copies are not made or distributed for direct commercial advantage, the AFIPS copyright notice and the title of the publication and its date appear, and notice is given that copying is by permission of the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. To copy otherwise, or to republish, requires specific permission. Author's Address: Department of Computer Science, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, England. © 1982 AFIPS 0164-1239/82/0201 21-139

The Development of Computer Programming in Britain (1945 to 1955)

MARTIN CAMPBELL-KELLY .00/00)

By 1950 there were three influential centers of programming in Britain where working computers had been constructed: Cambridge University (the EDSAC), Manchester University (the Mark IJ, and the National Physical Laboratory (the Pilot ACE). At each of these centers a distinctive style of programming evolved, largely independently of the others.

This paper describes how the three schools of programming influenced programming for the other stored-program computers constructed in Britain up to the year 1955. These machines included several prototype and research computers, as well as five commercially manufactured machines. The paper concludes with a comparative assessment of the three schools of programming.

Categories and Subject Descriptors: K.2 [History of Computing -- people, software, hardware; D.
1.0 [Programming Techniquda]: General General Terms: Languages, Experimentation Additional Key Words and Phrases: EDSAC, Manchester Mark 1, Pilot ACE, Cambridge University, Manchester University, National Physical Laboratory

1. Introduction

By 1950 there were three influential centers of programming in Britain where working computers had been constructed: Cambridge University (the EDSAC), Manchester University (the Mark I, and the National Physical Laboratory at Teddington, near London (the Pilot ACE). At each of these centers a distinctive style of prig evolved, largely independently of the others.

During the early 1950s, numerous other computer projects were spawned in Britain. This paper describes the programming activity associated with each of these projects and how programming ideas from Cambridge, Manchester, and Teddington (and elsewhere) filtered through to them.

After a brief review of programming at Cambridge, Manchester, and Teddington, the paper examines the British computer community of the period 1945-1955 and how information was exchanged between the groups (Section 2). The programming systems for each of the

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