The Rebuilding of the "Baby"

The most exciting project completed for the June 1998 celebrations was the re-build of the original SSEM, the "Baby". The project was organized by the British Computer Society Computer Conservation Society with generous sponsorship and practical assistance from ICL, and with the University of Manchester providing space and support.

The rebuilding was carried out at Manchester Computing on the ground floor of the Computer Science Building. The Replica Baby was then transferred to its permanent home in the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester. Here it was reassembled and made operational again (in a remarkably short time!).

The Replica Baby is housed in the 1830 Warehouse, the world's first railway warehouse, at the inland terminus of the original Manchester-Liverpool railway. This is a powerful reminder of the major contribution on the world stage that Manchester has made to both the Industrial Revolution and the Computer Revolution.

A simulator for the Baby was made available, and a competition was organised to find the most interesting new program written for it.

The Replica Baby was officially handed over to the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester at a ceremony on June 21st 1998, on the exact anniversary (and rerunning the first program at the appropriate time!). The ceremony was followed later by the Competition Award Ceremony.

The team for the SSEM Rebuild Project consisted of experienced engineers, many of whom made significant contributions in the early days of computing in Manchester. The team leader was Chris Burton who, in addition to master-minding the rebuild effort, found time to give most entertaining talks about the trials and tribulations of sorting out exactly what the machine consisted of and then finding the valves, racks and other parts to re-create a working version.