26th June 2018, 10:15am

70th Anniversary of the "Baby" – Celebrations and Lectures

21 June 2018 was the 70th anniversary of the creation of the "Baby" computer. The Lit & Phil marked the occasion with an evening of lectures by Dame Mary Archer DBE and Dr James Sumner delivered to a packed-out audience at the Museum of Science and Industry.

The event was the Lit & Phil's 2018 Manchester Lecture, a prestigious annual lecture, the subject matter of which reflects the achievements, concerns and opportunities of modern Manchester and its immediate region. While not a modern achievement for Manchester, the Baby was certainly an achievement that not only impacted modern Manchester but the modern world. Among the Manchester Lecture's special guests was 90-year-old Professor David “Dai” Edwards – then a young scientist who was part of the pioneering team behind the world’s first stored-program computer. Professor Edwards worked on Baby as it was expanded into the Manchester Mark 1, which led the way to the world’s first commercially available general-purpose computer.

 


Dr Diana Leitch (President) welcoming everyone to the Manchester Lecture 2018

 

The large audience was welcomed by the President, Dr Diana Leitch MBE, who awarded Honorary Membership of the Lit and Phil to Dame Mary Archer and Professor Dai Edwards and presented Dr James Sumner with a copy of John Dalton's papers before Dame Mary and James started their respective lectures.

 

 

Dame Mary Archer commenced the lectures with a look at the Museum Group's computer collection before moving on to Dr James Sumner's talk about the history of computing in Manchester, including a mention of the women who played an important role in Manchester's early computing developments. One such woman was the mother of Tim Berners-Lee (the inventor of the World Wide Web), Mary Lee Woods, an English mathematician and computer programmer who worked in a team that developed programs in the School of Computer Science, University of Manchester Mark 1, Ferranti Mark 1 and Mark 1 Star computers. 

 

 

 

 


Pictures from the evening

Images marked with a copyright watermark have been kindly provided to us by Tim Banks and the BABY Computer Volunteers. All other photos without a watermark have been taken by Society Member Dr David Leitch.



Council and Arts Section member Joanna Lavelle and new member, John Glenn, on the reception desk

The BABY Computer volunteers and Dai Edwards in front of the replica machine


Professor Dai Edwards in front of the Baby replica at MSI


Group left to right, in front of the Baby replica –Sally McDonald (Director of MSI), Professor Dai Edwards, George Baker (Lit and Phil Member and Computer Volunteer), Dr Diana Leitch (President Manchester Lit and Phil), Dame Mary Archer, DBE (Chair of Board of Trustees of Science Museum Group) 


One of the BABY Computer volunteers speaks to Stuart Flinders from BBC North West Tonight


"Happy 70th Birthday Baby!"
 

Dr Diana Leitch (President) presenting Dame Mary Archer DBE with a certificate of Honorary Membership of the Lit and Phil


Dr Diana Leitch (President) presenting Professor Dai Edwards with a certificate of Honorary Membership of the Lit and Phil


Dame Mary Archer giving her talk entitled 'From Babbage to the "Baby": the Science Museum Group's Computer Collection'

Dame Mary Archer giving her talk entitled 'From Babbage to the "Baby": the Science Museum Group's Computer Collection'

Khalil Rafiq, a biographer of Professor Tom Kilburn,  reads greetings from the Kilburn family

Dr James Sumner giving his talk entitled  'Bringing up Baby: establishing and promoting computers in Manchester'

Dr James Sumner giving his talk entitled  'Bringing up Baby: establishing and promoting computers in Manchester'
 

The packed-out audience in the Revolution MCR space at MSI


Diana Leitch (President) presents Dr James Sumner with a copy of John Dalton's papers

 

More photos are available over on the MSI blog here.

 

Top photo of Dai Edwards from the Museum of Science and Industry