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Science and Industry Museum

The Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society's 2018 Manchester Lecture, held at the home of the world’s only working replica of the Baby computer, revisited the beginnings of the computer age.

At 11.00 on 21 June, 1948, the world changed—for the modern computer age was born in Manchester.

On that groundbreaking day, the Small Scale Experimental Machine, or 'Baby', became the first computer to run a stored program. 52 minutes later, history had been made.

The Manchester Lecture was part of a special evening to celebrate the 70th anniversary of this momentous occasion. After a chance to see Baby working, attendees were welcomed by the President of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, Dr Diana Leitch MBE, who invited Dame Mary Archer DBE, Chair of the Science Museum Group, to give a short talk entitled From Babbage to the Baby: the Science Museum Group’s Computer Collection.

Dr James Sumner, Lecturer in the History of Technology at the University of Manchester, then delivered a talk entitled Bringing up Baby: Establishing and Promoting Computers in Manchester, running through the history of Baby from the principle that inspired its building to the computers that would succeeded it.


As home to the world’s only working replica of Baby—built 20 years ago with some of the original parts—the Museum of Science and Industry will be hosting events to celebrate the anniversary of this world-changing machine.

The first was a lecture organised by the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society on 21 June, while on 23 and 24 June there will be a number of family-oriented events, including a Baby-themed Pi: Platform for Investigation and Revolution Manchester Show.