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Sixty-five years ago today, the Manchester Small Scale Experimental Machine—nicknamed “Baby”—became the earliest computer in the world to run a program electronically stored in its memory. This was a flagship moment: the first implementation of the stored program concept that underpins modern computing. Remembering the World's First Stored Program Computer "Baby" [googleblog.blogspot.com]
Developed at Manchester University by “Freddie” Williams, Tom Kilburn and Geoff Tootill, in size the Baby was anything but: more than 5m long and weighing a tonne (PDF). Its moniker was due to its role as a testbed for the experimental Williams-Kilburn tube, a means of storing binary digits (“bits”) using a cathode ray tube. This was a big deal because up until this point, computers had no cost-effective means of storing and flexibly accessing information in electronic form.