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Definition: Baby

The first computer to run a program in its own electronic storage. Developed at the University of Manchester in England by Professor F.C. (Freddie) Williams and graduate student Tom Kilburn, Baby's memory was CRT based, which Williams conceived as a storage device for binary information. In 1948, its "Williams Tube" produced a grid of 1,024 bits.

A Big Baby
Like the ENIAC, its American counterpart, Baby, officially known as the Small Scale Experimental Machine (SSME), was huge. Driven by 6,000 vacuum tubes and weighing one ton, it was 16 feet long and 7 feet high. Unlike the ENIAC, it did not require extensive rewiring to change the program.

An Early Prototype
Starting in 1949, Baby served as a prototype for two more powerful Manchester Mark I models, which were the forerunners of the Ferranti Mark I, commercialized by Ferranti-Packard of Toronto in 1951. ICL's Series 1900 was based on the Ferranti machine. In 1959, the MUSE was introduced, the final Manchester machine. It was a faster computer with transistors and magnetic core storage. The commercial version of the MUSE was renamed Atlas.