The Manchester Small-Scale Experimental Machine was the world's first
stored-program computer. It was built at the Victoria University of
Manchester by Frederic C. Williams, Tom Kilburn and Geoff Tootill, and
ran its first program on 21 June 1948. The machine was not intended to
be a practical computer but was instead designed as a testbed for the
Williams tube, an early form of computer memory. It was considered
"small and primitive" compared to its contemporaries, although it did
contain all of the elements essential to a modern electronic computer.
As soon as the SSEM had demonstrated the feasibility of its design a
project was initiated at the university to develop it into a more
usable computer, the Manchester Mark 1. The Mark 1 in turn quickly
became the prototype for the Ferranti Mark 1, the world's first
commercially available general-purpose computer. The SSEM had a 32-bit
word length and a memory of 32 words. It was designed to be the
simplest possible stored-program computer; the only arithmetic
operation it could perform was subtraction. The first of the three
programs written for the machine found the highest factor of 218
(262,144), a calculation it was known would take a long time to run—and
so prove the computer's reliability. The program consisted of
17 instructions and ran for 52 minutes before reaching the correct
answer of 131,072, after the SSEM had performed 3.5 million operations.
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Today's selected anniversaries:
Hundred Years' War: Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in Rouen,
France after being convicted of heresy in a politically motivated
Jane Seymour, a former lady-in-waiting, became Queen of England by
marrying King Henry VIII.
The Treaty of London was signed to deal with territorial adjustments
arising out of the conclusion of the First Balkan War, declaring, among
other things, an independent Albania.
Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu announced the establishment of Biafra, a
secessionist state in southeastern Nigeria, an event that sparked the
Nigerian Civil War one week later.
Goddess of Democracy, a ten meter (33 ft) high statue made mostly of
polystyrene foam and papier-mâché, was erected by student protestors in
Tiananmen Square, Beijing.
A 6.9 Mw earthquake struck northern Afghanistan, killing at least 4,000
people, destroying more than 30 villages, and leaving 45,000 people
homeless in the Afghan Provinces of Takhar and Badakhshan.
Wiktionary's word of the day:
1. A small amount; an iota.
2. The dot (or diacritic replacing it) on the Latin letters i and j
Wikiquote quote of the day:
By striving to do the impossible, man has always achieved what is
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