These notes were provided to us by Andrew Howard, former employee at Ferranti, after he found our collection online.

Our entry on Ferranti, including a list of Ferranti systems in our collection, can be found here:


'I worked with Ferranti Computer Systems Ltd (and follow on names) from 1974 to 1991. I started in Bracknell, and was moved to Cwmbran in South Wales. I always worked on the military computers, and my specialism was eventually Networks.

The FM1600 range (B, D, E) was the main computer for the Royal Navy, as is acknowledged. I learned how to program them at a very low level as I was a hardware engineer, and have managed to forget most of my Fixpac. However, many an hour has been spent in front of those programmer's panels intoning things like 7004 0 2 0; 0100 28 0 24 to load programmes.

Incidentally, if you follow technical things, there is a clear path from the first Manchester Computer (Baby), through to the FM1600 instruction set. Its now very rare to have a 3 address machine. The final twist to this was when AMD invented us to the product launch of the 29000 microprocessor about 1988. This is a remarkably similar machine, 3 addresses, but the fields are byte wide, not 5 bits, and overall its a 32 bit machine, not 24. AMD were amazed when we said they had copied us! They thought they were very unusual, which indeed they are really, with the vast majority of processors being single address limited.

I and my design group developed interfaces to various peripherals and networks such as the ASWE Serial Highway.

I reworked a sequencer for the airborne FM1600D that flew in the Nimrod radars. An odd job, it turned the power rails on in the right order to maintain the programme held in core store. A hidden design constraint was to make it difficult for the analogue engineers used to power supply design to change the sequencer. This made the overall designs more robust!

You have also various Ferranti Argus M700 manuals. I will have approved the M700/ASWE Serial highway one, as I was the designated Engineer for PEC 4517. I spent a year of my life struggling with this highway interface as we militarised the design to be suitable for the Type 22 Frigates. The lead ship was HMS Boxer. The M700 military computers were developed around me in Cwmbran when we moved there in ~1980.

The ASWE serial highway was further standardised into DEF-STAN 00-19/1. I was part of this team. It helped set up the command and control and weapons systems architecture for the Navy for many years. 
I then went on to work on the ANSI X3T9 Fibre Distributed Data Interface (FDDI) before Ferranti started unravelling and I left for other places and career twists. I ended up joining ICL, later Fujitsu who were the successors to the first Ferranti commercial computers, so it was a funny closure to my career.

Before this list, I worked on the F100 microprocessor in the mid 1970s. This is in Manchester's museum. As the first 16 bit monolithic computer in Europe I am proud to have contributed, by drawing and checking logic diagrams. Again, I and my design team developed network interfaces. Paper tape, serial interfaces/teletypes/VDU etc and so on.'

Date : Unknown

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This exhibit has a reference ID of CH39625. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.

Memories - Notes on Ferranti, 1974-1991

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