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About Charlie Portman

(From his talk at the Science Museum 1900 Seminar- May 1996)

Electronic Engineer


Circuit Development

-  Magnetic Drums, read/write circuits, servo-amplifiers

Logic Designer

-  drum test equipment, Newt, Sinus

Team Leader

-  drum subsystem commissioning

-   Sirius

Development Laboratory Manager

-          1904/5/9,1906/7 and 1904/5 E/F





I graduated from Liverpool University as an Electronic Engineer and joined Ferranti at Moston in the Drum Department.

I spent some time designing circuits to record on and read back data from the drum and to synchronise the rotation of the drum to the computer which it was going to work with.

During this time the need to automate the testing of drums led me into logic design, first on test equipment (using valve circuits) then on transistor based machines Newt, Sirius and Orion.


I became Manager of the 1900 Development Laboratory charged with developing the 1904,5 and 9 machines derived from Ferranti-Packard's FP6000.

We went on to develop 1906 and 7 and then the 1904E and its variants.


We also created the dual 4E known as the 6E and a paged version of the 4E which was used at Manchester University to support development of an early version MU5 operating system software