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The Early Years

Clearly the main topic of this section is the Atlas Computer that gave the Laboratory its name and the special purpose Atlas Building that was constructed to hold the computer and its associated staff. The building expanded over the years and the pages in that section plot its evolution. The pages on the Atlas Computer describe both the hardware and the innovations in software that Atlas provided.

By the time Atlas was up and running, the concept of time sharing had become a reality and a Sigma 2 front end processor was developed to allow interactive editing associated with Atlas which was primarily a batch processing system

High quality text and graphics output on both paper and film was provided by an SC4020 microfilm recorder that provided a unique service for many years especially to people interested in doing computer animation. Associated with the SC4020 was a PDP15 satellite computer that provided previewing facilities for the SC4020 and a range of interactive graphics facilities for users.

Chilton Atlas: Dave Howarth (left), Doug House, Dennis Bennett and Heather Rolling

Chilton Atlas: Dave Howarth (left), Doug House, Dennis Bennett and Heather Rolling
Large View

The Later Years

In 1971, the ICL 1906A arrived as a replacement for Atlas. About the same time, work started on replacing the ageing SC4020 with a modern microfilm recorder. This led to the purchase of the FR80 which expanded the range of output media to include microfiche and was able to generate colour as well as black and white output.

Other equipment was installed in the Atlas Computer Laboratory particularly in the communications area but the set described here give a good idea of the range of facilities provided by the Atlas Computer Laboratory during its life.

Atlas 50th Anniversary

On December 5th, 2012, a Symposium was held in Manchester to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the turning on of the Manchester Atlas.

Chilton Computing 50th Anniversary

On November 13th, 2014, a Symposium was held at Chilton to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of computing at Chilton.