The Atlas Computer was a joint development between the University of Manchester, Ferranti, and Plessey. The first Atlas, installed at Manchester University and officially commissioned in 1962, was one of the world's first supercomputers, considered to be the most powerful computer in the world at that time. It was said that whenever Atlas went offline half of the United Kingdom's computer capacity was lost. It was a second-generation machine, using discrete germanium transistors. Two other Atlas machines were built: one for British Petroleum and the University of London, and one for the Atlas Computer Laboratory at Chilton near Oxford.
Atlas Autocode (AA) was a programming language developed around 1965 at Manchester University for the Atlas Computer. It was developed by Tony Brooker and Derrick Morris as a variant of the ALGOL programming language, removing some Algol features such as "passing parameters by name" (which in Algol 60 means passing the address of a short subroutine to recalculate the parameter each time it was mentioned). It featured explicitly typed variables, subroutines, and functions. The AA compiler generated range-checking for array accesses, and allowed an array to have dimensions that were determined at run-time (i.e. you could declare an array as integer array Thing (i:j), where i and j were calculated values).
One of the first high level languages available on Atlas was named Atlas Autocode, which was contemporary to Algol60 and created specifically to address what Tony Brooker perceived to be some defects in that language. The Atlas did however support Algol 60, as well as Fortran and COBOL. Being a university machine it was patronised by a large number of the student population, who had access to a protected machine code development environment.
This is an introduction to Atlas Autocode by J S Rohl of the Department of Computer Sciences from Manchester University.
Reference Number :
Date Published : 1965
Platform : Atlas Autocode
Format : Comb Bound
This exhibit has a reference ID of CH28863. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.
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