Talk:Manchester Baby

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Abuse of sources[edit]

JFG, please explain this: [1].

The source is specifically there because it states, "It was called the "Small Scale Experimental Machine", but was soon nicknamed the "Baby"." Yet you are changing it to read, "The Manchester Baby, also known as the Small-Scale Experimental Machine ". This is as bad as Dicklyon [2] changing the titles of the cited sources to downplay their use of names.

I was advised earlier that "good faith" would be offered by those renaming the article. It is very far from good faith to abuse sources like this. Andy Dingley (talk) 17:57, 31 May 2018 (UTC)

And as expected, the tag team "That particular source is wrong" from Dicklyon. Sorry, but Dicklyon is not WP:RS for the history of computing in Manchester, but Manchester University's 50 year computing history project is. Andy Dingley (talk) 18:09, 31 May 2018 (UTC)
@Andy Dingley: I'm happy to explain my edits here. First, after closing the move request, I changed the first sentence of the article to The Manchester Baby, formally known as the Small-Scale Experimental Machine,[3] instead of The Manchester Small-Scale Experimental Machine (SSEM), nicknamed Baby, in order to be consistent with the outcome of the move request. I do not claim that one name is better than the other, I just re-ordered them in accordance with the guidelines for renamed articles. Then, Dicklyon replaced "formally" with "sometimes"[4] (and applied plenty of other name changes throughout the article, which I won't discuss here), and you reversed the order back to SSEM first,[5] citing the archived 50th anniversary source.[6] Seeing that, I switched the order again, to be consistent with the page move, while keeping your source and replacing "sometimes" with the more neutral "also".[7] The source you quoted documents both names, so it remains valid support for the lede sentence. It actually calls the machine "Small Scale Experimental Machine" twice and "Baby" nine times, never using the "SSEM" abbreviation; they also use "The Baby" in their navigation links and their URL. Again, the order of the names in that sentence derives from the outcome of the move request and the re-titling of the article to "Manchester Baby". I have no opinion on further edits after my contribution, and will refrain from touching this article again. — JFG talk 18:37, 31 May 2018 (UTC)
"Sometimes" is pejorative and judgemental. Then to start removing sources from Manchester because "they're wrong" (in some unspecified manner) is precisely why I have such a problem with Dicklyon, here and on every other article I see him touch. Andy Dingley (talk) 18:51, 31 May 2018 (UTC)
This is why I changed "sometimes" to "also". Face-smile.svgJFG talk 19:07, 31 May 2018 (UTC)

Any 1998 source that says "It was called the 'Small Scale Experimental Machine' " must be wrong, as that name had just been made up. No earlier source (OK, one 1997 by Burton) calls it that. This is just Burton trying to establish his new name. We don't need to pick that source to represent history. Dicklyon (talk) 19:39, 31 May 2018 (UTC)

1951 "A Small Scale Experimental Machine"
Your own page at User:Dicklyon/Baby#By date lists several. Andy Dingley (talk) 19:46, 31 May 2018 (UTC)
If you see any pre-dating the 50th anniversary rebuild project where Burton named it, point them out; and a small-scale experimental machine, a lowercase descriptive phrase, is not support for the assertion that it was called the ... Dicklyon (talk) 03:54, 1 June 2018 (UTC)
Dicklyon makes reasonable points, I think. Tony (talk) 04:29, 1 June 2018 (UTC)
We would have to disagree there. I see the widespread contemporary use of the term "small scale experimental machine" as an indication that this is what its name was, rather than Dicklyon's claim that because there was variation in hyphenation or capitalistion, its canonical name was something else entirely. As see so many times before (see his history with the railway projects), Dicklyon has picked the answer beforehand, to match his preconcieved dogma, then discards sources that disagree with him. That is the polar opposite of how we ought to work. Andy Dingley (talk) 08:55, 1 June 2018 (UTC)
What sources are you saying disagree with me, with my analysis or conclusions about what this computer was called? Do you disagree that before Burton, no source ever either refers to it as, or says it was called, the Small-Scale Experimental Machine, capped or otherwise? Dicklyon (talk) 15:19, 1 June 2018 (UTC)
Also, your analysis: the widespread contemporary use of the term [SSEM] ==> an indication that this is what its name was ignores the evidence that all that "widespread" use came after wikipedia used the term as a title. It's very clear that the term SSEM came from Burton's 50th anniversary rebuild project, and didn't catch on until after Wikipedia picked it up in 2004, and even then only slowly, and it still hasn't caught up with the original (informal) name Baby. If you disagree, kindly point to sources to explain why, instead of focusing on how much you don't care for me. Dicklyon (talk) 05:45, 2 June 2018 (UTC)
Once again, 1951 "A Small Scale Experimental Machine"
Your own page at User:Dicklyon/Baby#By date lists several. Now, perhaps these are "descriptive" terms because no-one has yet cracked a bottle of champagne over the front panel and had an official naming ceremony (and they certainly didn't for "Baby"). But the term "Small Scale Experimental Machine" is, by your own research, in use repeatedly in 1951, long before 2004. Yet because this disagrees with your conclusion, you persistently discount it. This is how you always operate - even when the evidence is staring at you, you ignore it. Andy Dingley (talk) 10:24, 2 June 2018 (UTC)
Andy, your statement is very personalised. Is that useful (to our readers)? Tony (talk) 10:37, 2 June 2018 (UTC)
Because this is fundamentally a behavioural problem - see the past chaos he caused on the railway projects.
As an independent commentator here, can you reconcile the statements, 1951 "A Small Scale Experimental Machine" and "the term SSEM came from Burton's 50th anniversary rebuild project, and didn't catch on until after Wikipedia picked it up in 2004" ? Andy Dingley (talk) 11:32, 2 June 2018 (UTC)
The relevant distinction there is "a" vs "the", or generic descriptive vs. name/title. Nobody capped small-scale experimental machine, or used it as a name, or used the acronym SSEM, until Burton did. In the 1997 manual he wrote: "The Small-Scale Experimental Machine (SSEM) is the 'official' name for the prototype Manchester Mark 1 as it existed when it successfully executed the world's first stored computer program on 21st June 1948." Nobody used SSEM before that, and nobody treated Small-Scale Experimental Machine as a name before that, and nobody capped it before that. His use of the present tense verb "is" (as opposed to was) suggests that he is proposing a new official name; that's OK, but it didn't really catch on until after Wikipedia adopted it 7 years later. Even with the this positive feedback circularity help of Wikipedia, it hasn't become as popular as the original name Baby. As for chaos on railway projects, I don't believe I caused any such thing; just because you complained about me at AN/I doesn't mean I did anything wrong there; in any case, that was a long time ago and not relevant to the present issues. Dicklyon (talk) 03:19, 3 June 2018 (UTC)
" Nobody capped small-scale experimental machine,"
And yet again, until maybe you actually read it, 1951 "A Small Scale Experimental Machine" Andy Dingley (talk) 12:47, 3 June 2018 (UTC)
I did that, and linked the search snippet so that others could, too. That is one of many citations to this paper with subtitle "a small-scale experimental machine" (but that one you linked dropped the hyphen and capped it, as some do). There's no suggestion in that paper, nor in references to it, that "a small-scale experimental machine" was ever treated like a name. It's purely generic and descriptive. If you look at the original paper, and search for strings like "experimental" and "machine" and "small scale", the closest you get to using this terminology in reference to the Baby is in this paragraph:
Dicklyon (talk) 17:41, 3 June 2018 (UTC)

Note of Geoff Tootill saying what "we" called it.... : This from Geoff Tootill, one of the builders of the SSEM, interviewed by Thomas Lean in 2010, seems conclusive to me .. and supports Chris Burton's claim that this is what the machine was "really" called. I am really confused as to why Chris Burton's claim (that this was what it was called) has been disputed or discounted and he has been "accussed" of making up the name SSEM in 1997 and then claiming it was the real name. A transcription is "The Baby computer which the journalists have called it. The Small Scale Experimental Machine we called it." (my capitals)

Tootill, Geoff (Part 6 of 12). The British Library - An Oral History of British Science. - The relevant bit is at 09:37
https://sounds.bl.uk/Oral-history/Science/021M-C1379X0002XX-0006V0
Best wishes (Msrasnw (talk) 15:27, 28 September 2018 (UTC))
There is no more authoritative source than one of the builders of the machine. Time to rename the article and reverse the edits in all other Wikipedia articles that were erroneously changed. --TedColes (talk) 17:17, 28 September 2018 (UTC)

70th anniversary lecture coming up this month at Manchester MoSI[edit]

See Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society news: "... the Manchester Lecture will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday 21 June 2018 at the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry (MSI). This year it is in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the creation of the world's first stored-program computer on 21 June 1948 at the University of Manchester. The computer is known as 'The Baby' and a replica of it is located at MSI." Dicklyon (talk) 06:00, 5 June 2018 (UTC)

RFC on capitalizing small-scale experimental machine[edit]

I see no clear consensus indicated by simple vote. I have also considered the strength of the cases made (the primary bench-mark for consensus) and see no compelling arguements. I have noted WP:CITOGENESIS. English does change with time, even if WP is the vehicle of change; however, this does not lead me to a conclusion in respect to the substantive question.

I have concluded that, as there is no clear consensus, the status quo should continue and believe this is for capitalisation of "Small-Scale Experimental Machine".

I will make further observations that they may inform future discussions on capitalisation.

  • As an hypothetical, the project at Whosit Tech was to genetically engineer a small-scale hunting dog (SSHD) ultimately named the Whosit terrier. There would still be dissent at the article as to "small-scale hunting dog". However, I would reasonably speculate that the cases presented would be somewhat different and that the consensus might be clearer. The hypothetical is analogous.

Further text hidden because of the limitation of the close-box size. Comments are welcome at my TP.

Regards, Cinderella157 (talk) 02:07, 9 November 2018 (UTC)
The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.


Should "Small-Scale Experimental Machine" be treated as a proper name (capped), or as a generic (lowercase)? 02:00, 27 September 2018 (UTC)

Refer to analysis of sources at User:Dicklyon/Baby. Dicklyon (talk) 03:56, 2 October 2018 (UTC)
  • Lowercase – As the evidence discussed at the recent RM shows, nobody treated this as a proper name until Burton did at the 1997/98 50th anniversary, and nobody followed him in that until after Wikipedia capped it as the article title in 2004 (see User:Dicklyon/Baby for detailed analysis of sources in support of this observation). Since that time, usage is mixed. This is essentially a case of WP:CITOGENESIS, as closer noted above, in which Wikipedia caused sources to gradually adopt caps. It's not too late to fix that. Dicklyon (talk) 02:04, 27 September 2018 (UTC)
  • Capped - See here - http://curation.cs.manchester.ac.uk/computer50/www.computer50.org/mark1/new.baby.html (Msrasnw (talk) 06:57, 27 September 2018 (UTC))
    The quote from it reads It was called the "Small Scale Experimental Machine", but was soon nicknamed the "Baby". It is also sometimes (unhelpfully?) known as the "Mark 1 prototype".(Msrasnw (talk) 13:09, 27 September 2018 (UTC))
    In this context it is being used as a proper name so should be capitalised. This is standard British English grammar and does not need an RFC. --Racklever (talk) 07:39, 27 September 2018 (UTC)
    That's Burton's style and naming from the 50th anniversary rebuild project; there is no evidence in sources that it was ever called the Small Scale Experimental Machine before it was called the Baby. As the analysis of sources shows, he was first to treat this description as a name, and nobody followed until after Wikipedia adopted it as article title in 2004. As I said above. This is circular (citogenesis). Dicklyon (talk) 15:13, 27 September 2018 (UTC)
  • Capitalise (and rename article to the correct title).
    Also please sign your RfCs - unless you're trying to hide deliberately, because you're always the editor pushing for simplistic formatting rules, whatever the relevant context. Andy Dingley (talk) 09:37, 27 September 2018 (UTC)
    The naming has already been decided by a big discussion. Small-Scale Experimental Machine is Burton's name for it, reinforced by Wikipedia's use of it as a title from 2004. That doesn't make it a proper name. Dicklyon (talk) 15:13, 27 September 2018 (UTC)
    And WP:RFCST says to "Include a brief, neutral statement of or question about the issue in the talk page section, immediately below the {{rfc}} tag. ... Sign the statement with either ~~~~ (name and date) or ~~~~~ (just the date)." I tried to make the question neutral enough that a signature was not relevant; could I have done better? Dicklyon (talk) 04:43, 13 October 2018 (UTC)
  • Capitalise As the phrase is a proper name, Wikipedia says it should be capitalised. Valid new proper names arise from usage. There is no doubt that the Manchester Baby was a small-scale experimental machine and the evidence shows that the capitalised version has been quite widely used. The citogenesis argument is not supported by Wikipedia:List of citogenesis incidents as those examples are of substantially incorrect information being deliberately inserted into a Wikipedia article and then gaining currency as a consequence. Furthermore, well before Wikipedia existed, textbooks contained erroneous information copied from other earlier authors. --TedColes (talk) 11:02, 27 September 2018 (UTC)
    The whole point of looking to the evidence in sources to is see whether it's a proper name. It only came to be treated as such after Wikipedia adopted it as a title in 2004, other than uses by Burton in his 1998 rebuild project. It is not too late to correct our 2004 error and treat it as the generic that it was for a half century before.
    I agree that "Valid new proper names arise from usage", but this is not such a case; this is case where the term still is not consistently capped in sources, even with the unreasonably effective agency of WP using it capped for 14 years; the analysis of usage at User:Dicklyon/Baby. Dicklyon (talk) 15:13, 27 September 2018 (UTC)
    This discussion is redundant in light of User:Msrasnw's strong evidence above that Small-Scale Experimental Machine is the appropriate name, according to the testimony of the late Geoff Tootill, one of its builders.--TedColes (talk) 17:17, 28 September 2018 (UTC)
    I don't see any strong evidence. Where is a working URL? Where is evidence for capitalization? This interview was from long after Burton's and WP's use of the name, and has no support in sources before 2010; and admits that it was called Baby in journalism. Tootill used "a small-scale experimental machine" as subtitle of his MS thesis, but never, as far as I can find, used "the small-scale experimental machine", capped or not. Dicklyon (talk) 02:13, 29 September 2018 (UTC)
    @JFG, Tony1, SMcCandlish, Checkingfax, Daniel.Cardenas, and Karol Langner: pinging the rest of the participants of previous discussion. Dicklyon (talk) 05:01, 29 September 2018 (UTC)
  • Lowercase – per MOS:CAPS. Having fun! Cheers! {{u|Checkingfax}} {Talk} 04:54, 30 September 2018 (UTC)
  • Lowercase—yeah, I initially balked at this, until I realised that the equation at the very opening of the lead is the invention of only one person, in the 1990s. MOSCAPS, please. Tony (talk) 08:27, 30 September 2018 (UTC)
  • Capitalise since it is a legitimate proper name. I think when the proper name was invented or came into use is quite irrelevant, what is important is that it is clearly useful, and denotes a specific computer that existed in the past. The result of the reconstruction project should be called SSEM replica or something similar. I changed my mind about this after considering the full discussion; my original response: Lowercase per MOS:CAPS; it's worth repeating what the intro paragraph states: Wikipedia avoids unnecessary capitalization. In English, capitalization is primarily needed for proper names, acronyms, and for the first letter of a sentence. Wikipedia relies on sources to determine what is conventionally capitalized; only words and phrases that are consistently capitalized in a substantial majority of independent, reliable sources are capitalized in Wikipedia. Karol (talk)
  • Caps As proper name. Likewise needs renaming. Only in death does duty end (talk) 01:11, 15 October 2018 (UTC)
  • Lowercase after looking at the analysis at User:Dicklyon/Baby. This appears to be a case of WP:CITOGENESIS and we should utilize MOS:CAPS. Central Midfielder (talk) 12:51, 21 October 2018 (UTC)
  • Lowercase – The device was called "a" small-scale experimental machine in contemporary documentation, not "the" Small-Scale Experimental Machine. Capitalization was introduced by another source decades later. — JFG talk 04:40, 25 October 2018 (UTC)
  • LC. This does appear to be a citogenesis case, and even if it were not, we'd go with what MOS:CAPS says, because among the sources that do use this phrase or a variant of it, they do not consistently capitalize it. One single claim by someone involved in the project, made 6 years after WP started "promoting" a capitalized version, isn't evidence of anything but what that person likes to use capital letters for. And that's assuming the interview was conducted in writing, and exactly how Tootill wrote it was reported faithfully by the interviewer, neither of which are facts we have proof of.  — SMcCandlish ¢ 😼  10:44, 8 November 2018 (UTC)

Geoff Tootill says "The Baby computer which the journalists have called it. The Small Scale Experimental Machine we called it." (my capitals).[edit]

Geoff Tootill, one of the builders of the SSEM, interviewed by Thomas Lean in 2010, seems conclusive to me, with respect to the machine being called the Small Scale Experimental Machine by its builders .. and this supports Chris Burton's claim that this is what the machine was "really" called. I am really confused as to why Chris Burton's claim (that this was what it was called) has been disputed or discounted and he has been "accussed" of making up the name SSEM in 1997 and then claiming it was the real name. A transcription is "The Baby computer which the journalists have called it. The Small Scale Experimental Machine we called it." (my capitals) But one can listen to it here:

Tootill, Geoff (Part 6 of 12). The British Library - An Oral History of British Science. - The relevant bit is at 09:37
https://sounds.bl.uk/Oral-history/Science/021M-C1379X0002XX-0006V0

My chief worry here is our (Wikipedia's editors) accusation that Burton made up this term and 1997 and has somehow been trying to spread around his new term as a genuine one seems unfair and unkind. I am not sure why this was assumed rather than his claim being believed... We - would seem in the context to mean those who made it. It would seem Chris Burton could claim on the basis of chatting with the people involved including Geoff that this was its name and the Baby is a nickname or the like? Could you let me know is there something I am missing here? Is there some other information that means Burton is not to be trusted on this. (Msrasnw (talk) 12:04, 1 October 2018 (UTC))

Why are you characterizing an observation from sources as an "accusation"? Burton did nothing wrong or untoward in adopting what he wanted as a formal name for his project, recreating a machine that before only ever had an informal name, often in quotes as 'Baby'. In his personal email to me he was crystal clear that the original creators did not have a name for the machine, and that the press called it the 'baby' or 'a baby computer', but he wanted a more definite name. He wrote:
... Bearing in mind that our project was focused precisely on replicating the system as it was on 21 June 1948, I tended to refer to that original computer as "the Small-Scale Experimental Machine" as described in the 1951 IEE paper (which was effectively Geoff Tootill's 1949 M.Sc. thesis.) This was to ensure that our team, as well as the various institutions involved were all crystal clear about our goal. ...
I trust him completely. This is entirely consistent with what he wrote in 1997: The Small-Scale Experimental Machine (SSEM) is the "official" name for the prototype Manchester Mark 1 as it existed when it successfully executed the world's first stored computer program on 21st June 1948. Here he is declaring it to be the official name, in a document addressed primarily to people on his project. Nothing wrong with that. If he had said "was the official name" I might quibble. I have no issue with him advancing that name. But it didn't catch on at all until Wikipedia used it as title in 2004, and even then only very slowly, because it's basically just an unnecessary capitalization of the preexisting descriptor from the 1951 paper subtitle. Dicklyon (talk) 03:21, 2 October 2018 (UTC)
I trust Tootill less; perhaps it's true that "The small scale experimental machine we called it", but there's no reason to cap that. And Burton contradicts it, saying When the replica project started, I many times discussed with Tom Kilburn what the atmosphere was like in 1946-49. I wanted to know how, in day-to-day conversation, they referred to the machine. His response was that they just used words like "the machine" or "the computer". No names were used by the authors, ever, in print; Tootill used "a small-scale experimental machine" as his thesis subtitle. No hint of a reason to cap this description. Dicklyon (talk) 04:01, 2 October 2018 (UTC)
I am glad you trust Burton and sorry for my confusion on this - And "what was originally known as the Small-Scale Experimental Machine (SSEM), (my bold) and informally as “The Baby,” gradually evolved into the Manchester Mark 1 computer." and "the Small-Scale Experimental Machine (SSEM) replica". Burton 2005. But am not so clear why you don't believe Tootill: The Small Scale Experimental Machine we called it. (Msrasnw (talk) 06:33, 2 October 2018 (UTC))
Tootill's account seems at odds with the evidence, and with Burton's account. But even if he's correct, he did not cap it; you did. Dicklyon (talk) 22:12, 2 October 2018 (UTC)
Seems to agree other evidence also Hilary Kahn and Brian Napper: 1998 The Small-Scale Experimental Machine, known as SSEM, or the "Baby", was designed and built at the University of Manchester, and made its first successful run of a program on June 21st 1948...From this Small-Scale Experimental Machine a more powerful machine was designed and built. (Msrasnw (talk) 22:37, 2 October 2018 (UTC))
And Napper in 2002. Rojas & Hashagen The Manchester Mark 1 Computers has under the section heading - The Small Scale Experimental Machine - the following text By June 1948 the team had built a Small Scale Experimental Machine to Tom Kilburn's design, the SSEM, or just "The Baby";. Brian notes that This paper was written with the assistance of Prof. Tom Kilburn (Msrasnw (talk) 22:54, 2 October 2018 (UTC))
Yes, Napper is discussed at User:Dicklyon/Baby as one of the very few who adopted the 50th-anniversay name before Wikipedia did in 2004, but after Burton proposed it. Napper was part of that 50th anniversary rebuild project that Burton led, as recounted here. So he doesn't really count as evidence that the name was adopted by anyone outside that project. Unfortunately, both Napper and his wife Kahn have died, so we can't ask for more recollections from them. Dicklyon (talk) 00:26, 3 October 2018 (UTC)
Napper wrote the paper using Small Scale Experimental Machine with the assistance of Kilburn. Napper and his wife Kahn were leading figures in the 50th anniversary celebration - and the project that Chris Burton led was only, albeit an important, part of this . I am not clear how much Napper or Kahn were involved with the rebuild led by Burton.(Msrasnw (talk) 00:53, 3 October 2018 (UTC))
Napper and Kahn were in charge of the computer50 celebration; Kilburn's project was associated with that; I don't know more about the structure than that. Dicklyon (talk) 00:58, 3 October 2018 (UTC)
Can you find a copy of the Tootill thesis? If the 1951 paper with subtitle "a small-scale experimental machine" is a faithful reproduction of it, it uses the term "experimental" only in "An experimental electronic computing machine" and "an experimental computing machine"; and uses "scale" only in "machine has been built on a small scale" and "in the small-scale machine" (twice). No caps, no names, no calling it small-scale experimental machine. Dicklyon (talk) 01:21, 3 October 2018 (UTC)

From this discussion, it seems that there's no evidence that Tootill ever capped small-scale experimental machine, or used it as a name, right? Dicklyon (talk) 04:37, 13 October 2018 (UTC)

Seems wrong to me - you can actually hear Tootill saying The Small-Scale Experimental Machine we called it - Copeland reports him "the development of the Small-Scale Experimental Machine [the Baby]". (Msrasnw (talk) 12:07, 13 October 2018 (UTC))
Also see section below on the origin of the name "Baby". Tootill is clearly mistaken in attributing it to "journalists". Dicklyon (talk) 03:24, 24 October 2018 (UTC)

Sources: Small-Scale Experimental Machine (SSEM) is the "official" name - The Small-Scale Experimental Machine we called it.[edit]

    • Napper (2002. Rojas & Hashagen The Manchester Mark 1 Computers has under the section heading - The Small Scale Experimental Machine - the following text By June 1948 the team had built a Small Scale Experimental Machine to Tom Kilburn's design, the SSEM, or just "The Baby";. This paper was written with the assistance of Prof. Tom Kilburn one of the inventors of the machine. Tootill says -
    • Burton says "what was originally known as the Small-Scale Experimental Machine (SSEM), (my bold) and informally as “The Baby,” gradually evolved into the Manchester Mark 1 computer."
    • Tootill says "The baby computer which the journalists have called it. The small-scale experimental machine we called it." Or with capitals "The Baby computer which the journalists have called it. The Small-Scale Experimental Machine we called it." as would seem to me more likely. And as quoted by Copeland .."To the best of my recollection FC [Williams], Tom [Kilburn] and I never discussed ... von Neumann’s ... ideas during the development of the Small-Scale Experimental Machine [the Baby], nor did I have any knowledge of them when I designed the Ferranti Mk I."

Is it possible that while there are less formal (journalist inspired according to Tootill) names for the June 1948 machine such as ‘Baby’ or ‘Prototype’, the formal name most of those involved at Manchester used as the official name was the ‘Small-Scale Experimental Machine’ SSEM and they saw this as having been launched in the IEE paper. This would seem to be supported by Tootill in his interviews, and by Napper at his celebrations and Burton in his work? Why is it being insisted that Burton made this up rather than him reporting what Napper or Tootill or Lavington or others more connected to the project told him? Why have we ended up with Manchester Baby - not the Manchester "baby" computer or the Manchester baby ... The use of Burton's "The Small-Scale Experimental Machine (SSEM) is the "official" name for the prototype Manchester Mark 1 as it existed when it successfully executed the world's first stored computer program on 21st June 1948" and Tootill's views would seem to be the best sources on what it was and should be called. It is where repected sources are saying what is called. What others seem - and now us seem to be doing is - following Tootill's decsription using the journalists' term. I think to show respect to the inventors of the machine - and those working on it's celebration and reconstruction we should have used the title Manchester Small-Scale Experimental Machine (SSEM). The original research done by WP on the name and the claims being made - (No one called it the Small-Scale Experimental Manchine before Burton ) do not seem to me supported and seem to contradict sources. (Msrasnw (talk) 12:07, 13 October 2018 (UTC))

So, if the computer was called by this descriptive title, and "baby" was a journalistic invention, Small-Scale Experimental Machine was a proper name and so should be capitalised.--TedColes (talk) 14:04, 13 October 2018 (UTC)
But it was never called small-scale experimental machine until after they decided to call it that 50 years later, as far as we can tell from evidence, while it was called the Manchester Baby for many decades, and that name is still more popular, even after Wikipedia adopted and promoted the SSEM name. Your Copeland quote of Tootill is from 2001, several years after the 50th anniversary project, in which Tootill was involved, proposed that the SSEM name be used as the "official" name for the machine they reconstructed, even though it had never before been used as a name. Dicklyon (talk) 15:50, 13 October 2018 (UTC)
After reading the whole discussion, I now think the name should be capitalized. It does looks like SSEM was invented or used after some time, but that doesn't mean it can't be a proper name. The exact origin of this proper name has little to do with its usefulness, in my mind. And proper names are used because they are useful, not because they always existed. Many things have acquired proper names for hsitorical convenience, I see now reason why computers of historical importance should be any different. Karol (talk)
That sounds reasonable, but ignores the fact that in this case the name only came to be used capped through the agency of Wikipedia starting in 2004. After Burton and friends had proposed it in the 1998 50th anniversary project, nobody else had taken it up until Wikipedia did. We are not usually in the business of making up proper names for things, but that's essentially what we did here. Dicklyon (talk) 23:09, 13 October 2018 (UTC)

The Electrical Journal, Vol 147, 1951 p. 1643 "A Small Scale Experimental Machine"[edit]

A possibly useful extra source for the Small Scale Experimental Machine name and capitalisation: ...papers on high speed digital computers were presented, Prof. F.C. Williams being co-auther of each of them. That on "A Small Scale Experimental Machine" had Dr. T. Kilburn and Mr G.C. Tootill as co-authors.. (Msrasnw (talk) 11:26, 19 October 2018 (UTC)) https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=svgmAQAAIAAJ&dq=%22Small+scale+experimental+machine%22&focus=searchwithinvolume&q=Tootill

When does the evidence that Small Scale Experimental was in use long before Burton used it, become overwhelming? Williams, Kilburn and Tootill used the phrase un-capped in the title of their 1951 Proc IEEE paper and then, from the above evidence, it soon became a proper name and so was capped. To me the case seems to be overwhelming now.--TedColes (talk) 17:58, 19 October 2018 (UTC)
I still have not seen any place that capped it before Burton. I'd like to be able to see the one that Msrasnw mentions above; perhaps one of you can grab a screen shot at least, and upload it or email it to me? Maybe I'll see your point that one example is "overwhelming". Dicklyon (talk) 03:15, 23 October 2018 (UTC)
OK, I got the snippet to show now. I presume the quote marks there are to enclose a phrase taken from the title of the paper, similar to the immediately following "A Magnetic Store". I don't think they meant by this that "Magnetic Store" was being interpreted as a name, nor "Small Scale Experimental Machine". Too bad Msrasnw truncated the quote early to hide this fact. Dicklyon (talk) 03:21, 23 October 2018 (UTC)

What is the origin of "Baby" as a name?[edit]

Anyone know? The earliest I see is a paper by I. Jack Good, "The Baby Machine", which he wrote for Kilburn, proposing 12 op codes for the machine. I don't have this 1947 paper, but it's referred to by historians Croarken and Copeland in their papers. Anyone else have anything from around that time, such as the volume of collected docs that's hard to find? Dicklyon (talk) 04:18, 23 October 2018 (UTC)

"The Manchester Computer: A Revised History Part 2: The Baby Computer" by B. Jack Copeland has refs 45 and 46: on this:

45. I.J. Good, ‘‘The Baby Machine,’’ note, 4 May 1947, in Good, ‘‘Early Notes on Electronic Computers.’’

46. Good, ‘‘Early Notes on Electronic Computers,’’ p. iv. In an earlier note (‘‘Fundamental Operations,’’ circa 16 Feb. 1947, in Good, ‘‘Early Notes on Electronic Computers’’), Good had listed a larger and considerably more complicated set of basic instructions. These included multiplication, division, | x |, two forms of conditional transfer of control, and an instruction transferring the number in the accumulator to the ‘‘house number in’’ house x. These instructions were intended for a machine with two instructions per word. (The Williams and Kilburn Baby had only one instruction per word.)

"The Beginnings of the Manchester Computer Phenomenon: People and Influences" by Mary Croarken has: "by summer 1948 Williams. Kilburn, and Tootill had built a very small prototype computer – which has become known as the Manchester baby" but now I'm not seeing the Good ref that I thought was there; maybe a different one by her. But she does reference I.J. Good. “Early Notes on Electronic Computers,” Apr. 7, 1976, Nat’l Archive for the History of Computing, NAHCiMUCiSeries 21A4, Manchester, UK. which is where a copy of it can be found according to Copeland. Dicklyon (talk) 04:37, 23 October 2018 (UTC)

This is relevant as it clearly contradicts Tootill's "which the journalists have called it" recollection of the origin of the name "Baby". Dicklyon (talk) 03:23, 24 October 2018 (UTC)

RFC !votes summary[edit]

Lowercase
  1. Dicklyon
  2. Checkingfax
  3. Tony1
  4. Central Midfielder
  5. JFG
  6. SMcCandlish
Uppercase
  1. Msrasnw
  2. Andy Dingley
  3. TedColes
  4. Karol Langner
  5. Racklever
  6. Only in death

OK, so no consensus to move to lowercase. I'll stand down. Dicklyon (talk) 02:16, 27 October 2018 (UTC)


The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.