The ‘Ferranti MK1 ‘ Computer. Freddie Williams & Tom Kilburn, United Kingdom, 1951.

Ferranti Mk1 Computer

The oldest existing recording of a computer music programme. The Ferranti Mk1 in 1951. Recorded live to acetate disk with a small audience of technicians. The Ferranti MK1 was the world’s first commercially available general-purpose computer; a commercial development of the Manchester Mk1 at Manchester university in 1951. Included in the Ferranti Mark 1’s instruction set was a ‘hoot’ command, which enabled the machine to give auditory feedback to its operators. Looping and timing of the ‘hoot’ commands allowed the user to output pitched musical notes; a feature that enabled the Mk1 to have produced the oldest existing recording of computer music ( The earliest reported but un-recorded computer music piece was created earlier in the same year by the CSIR MK1 in Sydney Australia). The recording was made by the BBC towards the end of 1951 programmed by Christopher Strachey, a maths teacher at Harrow and a friend of Alan Turing.

Ferranti Mk1
Ferranti MK1
Ferranti Mk1
Ferranti MK1



British Library ‘Sound & Vision’

6 thoughts on “The ‘Ferranti MK1 ‘ Computer. Freddie Williams & Tom Kilburn, United Kingdom, 1951.”

  1. I worked on the computer serial number 7 at AWRE Aldermaston
    We had to do preventative maintenance for 1 hour every day

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