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Communications of the ACM

Communications of the ACM

The Manchester Mark I and atlas: a historical perspective

In 30 years of computer design at Manchester University two systems stand out: the Mark I (developed over the period 1946-49) and the Atlas (1956-62). This paper places each computer in its historical context and then describes the architecture and system software in present-day terminology. Several design concepts such as address-generation and store management have evolved in the progression from Mark I to Atlas. The wider impact of Manchester innovations in these and other areas is discussed, and the contemporary performance of the Mark I and Atlas is evaluated.

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