Ferranti "The Atlas Supervisor"

Paper entitled 'The Atlas Supervisor' by T. Kilburn, R.B. Payne & D.J. Howarth, reprinted from Computers - Key to Total Control Systems from February 1962.

Introduction to the paper:

"This paper gives a brief description of work originating in the Computer Group at Manchester University. Atlas is the name given to a large computing system which can include a variety of peripheral equipments, and an extensive store. All the activities of the system are controlled by a program called the supervisor. Several types of store are used, and the addressing system enables a virtually unlimited amount of each to be included. The primary store consists of magnetic cores with a cycle time of under two microseconds, which is effectively reduced by multiple selection mechanism. The core store is divided into 512 word pages; this is also the size of the fixed blocks on drums and magnetic tapes. The core store and drum store are addressed identically, and drum transfers are performed automatically as described in Section 3. There is a fixed store which consists of a wire mesh into which ferrite slugs are inserted; it has a fast read-out time, and is used to hold common routines, including routines of the supervisor. A subsidiary core store is used as working space for the supervisor. The V-store is a collective name given to various flip-flops throughout the computer, which can be read, set, and re-set by reading from or writing to particular store addresses."

Atlas pioneered many software concepts still in common use today, including the Atlas Supervisor, "considered by many to be the first recognisable modern operating system".

We are extremely grateful to both Dawn and Kim Wakefield for the kind donation of the collection of their late father Richard Wakefield

Date : February 1962

This exhibit has a reference ID of CH15925. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.


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