The Manchester Mark 1 was one of the earliest stored-program computers, developed at the Victoria University of Manchester from the Small-Scale Experimental Machine (SSEM) or "Baby". It was also called the Manchester Automatic Digital Machine, or MADM. Work began in August 1948, and the first version was operational by April 1949; a program written to search for Mersenne primes ran error-free for nine hours on the night of 16/17 June 1949.
The machine's successful operation was widely reported in the British press, which used the phrase "electronic brain" in describing it to their readers. That description provoked a reaction from the head of the University of Manchester's Department of Neurosurgery, the start of a long-running debate as to whether an electronic computer could ever be truly creative.
The Mark 1 was initially developed to provide a computing resource within the university, to allow researchers to gain experience in the practical use of computers, but it very quickly also became a prototype on which the design of Ferranti's commercial version could be based. Development ceased at the end of 1949, and the machine was scrapped towards the end of 1950, replaced in February 1951 by a Ferranti Mark 1, the world's first commercially available general-purpose computer.
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