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BRITISH SOCIETY FOR THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE

ACE 2000 CONFERENCE
SCIENCE MUSEUM OF LONDON, 18 MAY 2000
NATIONAL PHYSICAL LABORATORY, 19 MAY 2000

ACE 2000 will mark the 50th Anniversary of the Pilot Model Automatic Computing Engine, London's first computer. Alan Turing's 'Proposal for Development in the Mathematics Division of an Automatic Computing Engine (ACE)', written in 1945, is the first relatively complete design for an electronic stored-program general-purpose digital computer. The contemporaneous U.S. document 'First Draft of a Report on the EDVAC' contained little engineering detail, especially concerning electronic hardware; Turing's proposal, on the other hand, contained detailed electronic circuits, specimen programs in machine code, and even an estimate of the cost of building the machine (11,200).

The Pilot Model ACE ran its first program on May 10, 1950, at the National Physical Laboratory. With a clock speed of 1 MHz, Pilot Model ACE was for some time the fastest computer in the world. DEUCE, the production version of the Pilot Model, was constructed by the English Electric Company. In total more than 30 were sold. NPL's full-scale ACE began work in 1958. The fundamentals of Turing's ACE design were used in the Bendix G15 computer. The G15 was arguably the first personal computer and over 400 were sold worldwide. DEUCE and the G15 remained in use until about 1970. Another computer deriving from Turing's ACE design, the MOSAIC, played a role in Britain's air defences during the Cold War period; other derivatives include the Packard-Bell PB250 (1961).

Speakers at ACE 2000 include leading historians of computing and the pioneers who constructed and programmed Pilot Model ACE and its derivatives, including the English Electric DEUCE and the Bendix G15.

ACE 2000 at the Science Museum, Exhibition Road, South Kensington, London SW7, 10.30 a.m. - 5.30 p.m., Thursday 18 May will celebrate the Pilot Model ACE and survey the ACE family of computers and the impact that these machines had on British computing. ACE 2000 at the Science Museum is hosted by the Computer Conservation Society.

ACE 2000 at the National Physical Laboratory, Bushy House, Queens Road, Teddington, London TW1, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m., Friday 19 May will focus on the history of computation at NPL

The Turing Project is grateful to the Science Museum of London and to the National Physical Laboratory for providing facilities for ACE 2000.


 

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