Photo of the great grandfather of computers

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Here is the first known photograph of the great grandfather of modern digital computers – but you couldn’t use it on the train or take it jogging with you.

The panoramic black and white image, which has been unearthed in the archives at The University of Manchester, shows a development version of ‘The Baby’ taking up a whole room with its towering Post Office racks and jumble of wiring.

The Small Scale Experimental Machine – to give the Manchester invention its full title – successfully executed its first program on 21 June 1948 – and paved the way for the computers, iPods and mobile phones we all take for granted today.

Built and designed by Tom Kilburn and Freddie Williams at The University of Manchester, it was the first electronic digital computer capable of storing a program.
There are no photographs of the original Baby from June 1948. The panoramic image is often described as a photograph of the Baby machine, but it actually shows an intermediate stage, beginning to resemble the later University Mark 1.

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