Scott M. Campbell, "Computing Practices at the University of Toronto, 1952-1958"

History and Philosophy of Science and Technology Graduate Student Conference: The Transmission of Knowledge, August 12, 2005.

Abstract: In Canada, modern computing began in 1952 when the University of Toronto installed a Ferranti Mark I, the first high-speed electronic digital computer in the country. Toronto had no experience using such a machine, so they turned to Manchester University where the Mark I computers had been designed. By various means Toronto inherited the entire Manchester programming style, subroutine system, and tape libraries. They also borrowed a number of experienced programmers from England who could guide the learning process. Within about a year, Toronto had their own small group of able programmers. Unfortunately, programming the Mark I remained difficult for beginners and outsiders to learn. In response, they developed a new computer language for the Mark I that made it feasible to learn how to program in just a few hours. With minimal assistance, people could successfully submit programs by mail, without ever seeing the physical machine. This was the only contact many Canadian scientists had with an electronic computer until the late 1950s, and helped pave the way for the new discipline of computer science in the 1960s.

Copyright 2006 © Scott M. Campbell