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History of Computing Collection

Date range: 1920s-present

Medium: Archive/Printed

The History of Computing Collection (formerly known as the National Archive for the History of Computing) is an important source of information for the history of computing in the UK.

The History of Computing Collection comprises several discrete collections, both of archives and printed ephemera, and collectively these provide detailed and diverse information on the social and technical history of computing during the second half of the 20th century. It includes material produced by computer scientists, computer manufacturers, and public and academic organisations which developed and used mainframe computers.

Some of the important collections in the HHC are:

  • English Electric Company Ltd (NAHC/EEC);
  • Ferranti Ltd (NAHC/FER); [The Library does not hold the main Ferranti archive]
  • International Computers Ltd (ICL) (NAHC/ICL [The Library does not hold the main ICL archive]);
  • LEO Computers Ltd (NAHC/LEO);
  • Manchester University Department of Computer Science (NAHC/MUC and MUC/5-9);
  • National Physical Laboratory (NAHC/NPL);
  • National Research Development Corporation, which supported the British computer industry in the 1950s and ’60s (NAHC/NRD);
  • Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough (NAHC/RAE);
  • Royal Radar Establishment; Scientific Computing Service Ltd (NAHC/RRE);
  • Trade Literature Collection;
  • United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (NAHC/AEA).

There are also papers of several individuals involved in the development of computing, notably Douglas R. Hartree (1897-1958), Tom Kilburn (1921-2001), Alan Turing (1912–1954) and Sir F.C. Williams (1911–1977).

The genres of documents and publications in the Collection include:

  • Photographs of machines, components and production facilities;
  • Hardware and software manuals;
  • Trade catalogues, price lists, technical information sheets and promotional literature;
  • Working papers and reports by computer scientists;
  • Published reports, articles and monographs;
  • Correspondence.

See also:

Further information:

  • Catalogues available online via ELGAR (for links see above).
  • Geoffrey Tweedale, ‘The National Archive for the History of Computing’, Journal of the Society of Archivists, vol. 10, no. 1 (1989), pp. 1-8.


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