Oral history of British science

Tootill, Geoff (Part 7 of 12). An Oral History of British Science.

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  • Subjects

    Computer Hardware; Electronics

  • Recording date


  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home, Wokingham

  • Interviewees

    Tootill, Geoff, 1922- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 7: Comments on Ferranti's outlook for computers in the late 1940s: small sale, high value sales in the short term, longer term outlook for mass production. Remarks on: GT and TK considering two or three computers as sufficient for Britain's needs; Ferranti having no particular uses in mind for computers; [01:51] TK and GT's early programming efforts; leaving computer development by the time that more powerful machines were available. Short anecdote about TK only writing one program: the first. Remarks on: split between mathematicians and engineers and software and hardware; Ferranti expecting customers to program computers themselves. [5:11] Remarks on: Ferranti not having any systems programmers; no difference between commercial and experimental computers at the logic design level he was working at; Ferranti's engineered computer making maintenance easier. Remarks on J. Thomas, the assistant Ferranti assigned to GT, the work of the drawing office, on leaving Ferranti before his computer design was implemented. [09:50] Remarks on checking Ferranti Mark 1 details with TK, FCW, AT and MN at the University of Manchester. Remarks on Ferranti view of computers and decision to put their development in the instrument division. Remarks on working at Moston laboratory and having an engineering works at Hollinwood where they made large transformers, where his aunt worked. [14:05] Comments on dispute with Ferranti over his salary and short story about a meeting with manager who tried to convince him to stay. Further remarks on his relationship with Ferranti and J. Thomas' role. Remarks on use of civil service pay scale by GT's manager to convince him to stay. [19:55] Short remarks on being an ex-civil servant at Ferranti and the importance of his expertise to them.

  • Description

    Life story interview with Geoff Tootill, computer engineer who was part of the team that built Baby, the world's first stored program computer.

  • Related transcripts

    Geoff Tootill interviewed by Tom Lean: full transcript of the interview

  • Related links

    Visit this interviewee's page on the 'Voices of Science' web resource

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