Elliott Brothers (computer company)

Elliott Brothers Ltd

Elliott Brothers (London) Ltd was an early computer
A computer is a programmable machine designed to sequentially and automatically carry out a sequence of arithmetic or logical operations. The particular sequence of operations can be changed readily, allowing the computer to solve more than one kind of problem...

 company of the 1950s–60s in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

, tracing its descent from a firm of instrument makers founded by William Elliott in London around 1804. The research laboratories were based at Borehamwood
-Film industry:Since the 1920s, the town has been home to several film studios and many shots of its streets are included in final cuts of 20th century British films. This earned it the nickname of the "British Hollywood"...

, originally set up in 1946. The first Elliott 152 computer appeared in 1950. Elliott's was a pioneer of Head-up display
Head-Up Display
A head-up display or heads-up display is any transparent display that presents data without requiring users to look away from their usual viewpoints...

s - HUDs.

The well-known computer scientist, Sir Tony Hoare
C. A. R. Hoare
Sir Charles Antony Richard Hoare , commonly known as Tony Hoare or C. A. R. Hoare, is a British computer scientist best known for the development of Quicksort, one of the world's most widely used sorting algorithms...

 was an employee there from August 1960 for eight years and wrote an ALGOL 60
ALGOL 60 is a member of the ALGOL family of computer programming languages. It gave rise to many other programming languages, including BCPL, B, Pascal, Simula, C, and many others. ALGOL 58 introduced code blocks and the begin and end pairs for delimiting them...

A compiler is a computer program that transforms source code written in a programming language into another computer language...

 for the Elliott 803
Elliott 803
The Elliott 803 was a small, medium speed digital computer manufactured by the British company Elliott Brothers in the 1960s. About 250 were built and most British universities and colleges bought one.-History:...

. He also worked on an operating system Elliott 503 Mark II for the computer, although this was less successful and abandoned along with "over thirty man-years of programming effort." (c.f. The Emperor's Old Clothes)

John Lansdown
John Lansdown
Robert John Lansdown was a British computer graphics pioneer, polymath and Professor Emeritus at Middlesex University Lansdown Centre for Electronic Arts, which was renamed in his honour in 2000....

 pioneered the use of computers as an aid to planning
Computer-aided design
Computer-aided design , also known as computer-aided design and drafting , is the use of computer technology for the process of design and design-documentation. Computer Aided Drafting describes the process of drafting with a computer...

; making perspective drawings on an Elliott 803 computer in 1963, modelling a building's lift
An elevator is a type of vertical transport equipment that efficiently moves people or goods between floors of a building, vessel or other structures...

s and services, plotting the annual fall of daylight across its site, as well as authoring his own computer aided design (CAD) applications.

In 1966 the company established an integrated circuit
Integrated circuit
An integrated circuit or monolithic integrated circuit is an electronic circuit manufactured by the patterned diffusion of trace elements into the surface of a thin substrate of semiconductor material...

 design and manufacturing facility in Glenrothes
Glenrothes is a large town situated in the heart of Fife, in east-central Scotland. It is located approximately from both Edinburgh, which lies to the south and Dundee to the north. The town had an estimated population of 38,750 in 2008, making Glenrothes the third largest settlement in Fife...

, Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, followed by a MOS
The metal–oxide–semiconductor field-effect transistor is a transistor used for amplifying or switching electronic signals. The basic principle of this kind of transistor was first patented by Julius Edgar Lilienfeld in 1925...

 semiconductor research laboratory. The Glenrothes site was closed in 1969 following the take over of English Electric
English Electric
English Electric was a British industrial manufacturer. Founded in 1918, it initially specialised in industrial electric motors and transformers...

 by GEC.

Elliott Automation

Elliott Automation (as it had become) merged with English Electric in 1967. The data processing computer part of the company was then taken over by International Computers and Tabulators
International Computers and Tabulators
International Computers and Tabulators or ICT was formed in 1959 by a merger of the British Tabulating Machine Company and Powers-Samas. In 1963 it also added the business computer divisions of Ferranti...

 (ICT) in 1968; this marriage was forced by the British Government, who believed that the UK required a strong national computer company. The combined company was called International Computers Limited (ICL). The real-time computer part of Elliott Automation remained, and was renamed Marconi Elliott Computer Systems Limited in 1969 and GEC Computers Limited
GEC Computers
GEC Computers Limited was the computer manufacturing company under the GEC holding company.-History:Starting life as Elliott Automation, the data processing computer products were transferred to ICT/ICL and non-computing products to English Electric as part of a reorganisation of the parent company...

 in 1972, and remained in the original Borehamwood research laboratories until the late 1990s. The agreement which governed the split of computer technologies between the two companies disallowed ICT from developing real-time computer systems and disallowed Elliott Automation from developing data processing computer systems for a few years after the split. The remainder of Elliott Automation which produced aircraft instruments and control systems, was retained by English Electric.


EASAMS was Elliott Automation Space and Advanced Military Systems Division, based in Frimley
Frimley is a small English town situated 2 miles south of Camberley, in the extreme west of Surrey, adjacent to the border with Hampshire. It is about 31 miles west south-west of Central London. It is part of the Borough of Surrey Heath...

, Surrey
Surrey is a county in the South East of England and is one of the Home Counties. The county borders Greater London, Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex, Hampshire and Berkshire. The historic county town is Guildford. Surrey County Council sits at Kingston upon Thames, although this has been part of...

 - first at the nearby Marconi Electronic Systems
Marconi Electronic Systems
Marconi Electronic Systems , or GEC-Marconi as it was until 1998, was the defence arm of The General Electric Company . It was demerged from GEC and acquired by British Aerospace on November 30, 1999 to form BAE Systems...

 plant in Chobham Road and later, when it became a limited company, at its headquarters in Lyon Way. It evolved its proprietary EMPRENT an early PERT planning system used for the construction of North Sea
North Sea oil
North Sea oil is a mixture of hydrocarbons, comprising liquid oil and natural gas, produced from oil reservoirs beneath the North Sea.In the oil industry, the term "North Sea" often includes areas such as the Norwegian Sea and the area known as "West of Shetland", "the Atlantic Frontier" or "the...

 Oil platform
Oil platform
An oil platform, also referred to as an offshore platform or, somewhat incorrectly, oil rig, is a lаrge structure with facilities to drill wells, to extract and process oil and natural gas, and to temporarily store product until it can be brought to shore for refining and marketing...

, and for the BAC TSR-2
The British Aircraft Corporation TSR-2 was a cancelled Cold War strike and reconnaissance aircraft developed by the British Aircraft Corporation for the Royal Air Force in the late 1950s and early 1960s...

 which later was incorporated into MRCA
MRCA may refer to:*Member of the Royal College of Anaesthetists, post-nominal letters awarded on completion of the primary FRCA examination and 12 months specialist training...

 multi-role combat aircraft which finally became Panavia Tornado
Panavia Tornado
The Panavia Tornado is a family of twin-engine, variable-sweep wing combat aircraft, which was jointly developed and manufactured by the United Kingdom, West Germany and Italy...

. EASAMS senior management was highly conservative, and a number of innovative engineers working on 'private venture' projects such as Hierarchical Object Oriented Design HOOD
Object-oriented programming
Object-oriented programming is a programming paradigm using "objects" – data structures consisting of data fields and methods together with their interactions – to design applications and computer programs. Programming techniques may include features such as data abstraction,...

 and Ada
Ada (programming language)
Ada is a structured, statically typed, imperative, wide-spectrum, and object-oriented high-level computer programming language, extended from Pascal and other languages...

 language development left to form their own companies, including Admiral Computing which later merged with Logica.

EASAMS Ltd was an independent company within GEC, founded in 1962 to provide services in system design, operational research and project management
Project management
Project management is the discipline of planning, organizing, securing, and managing resources to achieve specific goals. A project is a temporary endeavor with a defined beginning and end , undertaken to meet unique goals and objectives, typically to bring about beneficial change or added value...

. In the 1990s EASAMS became part of Marconi Electronic Systems
Marconi Electronic Systems
Marconi Electronic Systems , or GEC-Marconi as it was until 1998, was the defence arm of The General Electric Company . It was demerged from GEC and acquired by British Aerospace on November 30, 1999 to form BAE Systems...

 before losing its identity.


The following Elliott computer models were produced:
  • Elliott 152 (1950)
  • Elliott Nicholas (1952)
  • Elliott/NRDC 401 (1953)
  • Elliott 153 (DF computer) (1954)
  • Elliott/GCHQ OEDIPUS (311) (1954)
  • Elliott 402 (1955)
  • Elliott 403 (WREDAC) (1955)
  • Elliott 405 (1956)
  • Elliott 802 (1958--1961) 6 were sold
  • Elliott 803
    Elliott 803
    The Elliott 803 was a small, medium speed digital computer manufactured by the British company Elliott Brothers in the 1960s. About 250 were built and most British universities and colleges bought one.-History:...

     (1959) about 250 sold, mainly 803B
    • 803A had 4 or 8K of 39 bit words of memory and all internal data was held in a single 102 bit long serial path.
    • 803B had 4 or 8K of 39 bit words of memory. The single data path was split into several shorter (48 bit long) serial paths to reduce instruction execution time. A hardware floating point option was available.
  • Elliott ARCH 1000 (1962)
  • Elliott 503 (1963) software compatible with 803
  • Elliott 900 series (1963)
  • Elliott 920 (used by Marconi Elliott Avionic Systems, at Elstree, in the Radar Research Lab, in late 70's)
  • Elliott 502 (1964)
  • Elliott 4100 series (1966) A joint development with NCR Corporation
    NCR Corporation
    NCR Corporation is an American technology company specializing in kiosk products for the retail, financial, travel, healthcare, food service, entertainment, gaming and public sector industries. Its main products are self-service kiosks, point-of-sale terminals, automated teller machines, check...

    . Elliott selling to the scientific market and NCR selling to the commercial market.

External links

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