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The Manchester Heritage

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129778D
Original Publication Date: 1993-Sep-30
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-07
Document File: 4 page(s) / 22K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

J.V. PICKSTONE: AUTHOR [+3]

Abstract

This article describes the wider historical and scientific context of the development of computing at Manchester, focusing on the relationship between the university and industry. It describes the role of the National Archive for the History of Computing in preserving this heritage.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1993 by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

The Manchester Heritage

J.V. PICKSTONE

GEOF BOWKER

This article describes the wider historical and scientific context of the development of computing at Manchester, focusing on the relationship between the university and industry. It describes the role of the National Archive for the History of Computing in preserving this heritage.

For the most part, it remains but little known that Manchester has fostered a tradition of investigation of worldwide importance. There is, however, no other city that better illuminates the historical relationships between the growth of science and the growth of industry. Throughout this special issue, Manchester's unique blend of industrial might and tradition for radical thought will provide the constant context to the varied stories of computing in and around this city. In this article, we will try to give some flavor of this rich heritage.

It is still possible, around King Street and St. Anne's Square, to get the feel of Georgian Manchester. This was the "better end" of town in the late eighteenth century, when polite society developed around the assembly rooms, the churches, and the chapels. It was a society of local gentlefolk, but especially of merchants and professional men. Their economic base was the textile industry, and from the 1780s the town boomed as workshops proliferated and large factories were built along the rivers in the neighboring countryside.

Unitarian Charles Percival established there a scientific society which has continued to the present as the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society. He also helped establish a college that gave higher education to laymen as well as future ministers. It was Percival and his friends who first advanced schemes for higher education for industrialists. They brought John Dalton to Manchester, as a teacher of chemistry and natural philosophy. It was here that the young Quaker asked himself why the atmosphere did not separate into the elements it was now believed to contain; he reflected on the solubility of gases, which his friend Thomas Henry was forcing into mineral waters; he thought about chemical combination, and about explaining chemistry to the young. It is to this college teacher, befriended by industrialists and by enthusiasts for Newtonian science and rational amusement, that we owe the atomic theory in chemistry. His book, A New System of Chemistry and Philosophy, was published in 1808. It was Dalton, as a scientific hero, who maintained the Literary and Philosophical Society through the difficult decades that opened the new century.

By the 1830s, Manchester was attracting tourists who came to see the future. They visited the mills and the infirmary to see production and its victims. In these very mills they could see Jacquard looms -- a glimpse...