Ferranti : Back In The Days

Ferranti : Back In The Days

By now, you have probably heard about Ferranti, right? You have learned that they bring along 40 years of experience – which they are using to design an automation strategy and to map out business processes. But do you know how Ferranti came to life – and that its role in our history has been quite extensive? Allow us to dig a little deeper in the exciting Ferranti timeline…

9th Of September, 1864

Sebastian Ziani de Ferranti was born in Liverpool, as the son of a photographer and a concert pianist.


Sebastian started out at the electrical engineering company Siemens Brothers, where he installed electrical lighting systems. In 1885, he set up Ferranti, where he focused on improving the electric meter – which turned out to be a commercial success. In 1888, construction of the London Electricity Supply Corporation began – a building which Ferranti designed himself.


In October 1890, the Power Station was active as the world’s first high-voltage generation station. in 1896, a second factory was built in Hollinwood. This factory provided steam-driven alternators, switchgear, rectifiers, and so on.


In 1922, Ferranti supplied seven transformers at 4.000 kilowatt-ampères, which made for the largest ever made in Britain. Following this, the production of transformers became a massive part of the company’s business. Only a year later, they began to produce AF transformers for radios, which marked the start of their thriving radio business. And finally, in 1929, the very first Ferranti radio (‘the Standard Model 21’) was launched.


In 1930, Dr. Ferranti died and his son Vincent took over the wheel, and in 1932, Ferranti added electric clocks to their domestic product range. This was followed by another change in 1935, when they chose electronic television instead of television that’s based on mechanical scanning. The 30’s ended on an impressive note: in 1938, they developed a new military radar system, better known as the Identification Friend or Foe Mark 1 system. This revolutionary project made sure Ferranti stood at the forefront considering radar defense technology.


In 1943, the first Scottish Ferranti factory opened its doors, mainly for the production of gyro gun-sights for aircraft. Later, this GGS was described as ‘the most outstanding instrument development of the War’.


In 1951, the world’s first commercially produced computer was installed at Manchester University: the Ferranti Mark 1. But this wasn’t the end of this story: in 1953, a team of computer engineers got to work and developed a new approach considering computer circuitry. In 1956, this new approach, that was based on standard ‘packages’, took care of the successful launch of the Ferranti Pegasus computer.


In 1961, Ferranti’s first air traffic control computer was installed at Manchester’s Ringway Airport. This computer, which bore the name ‘Apollo’, remained in service until 1982. In 1962, Sebastian de Ferranti took over the wheel upon the retirement of his father. In 1965, Ferranti began producing microwave communications devices, whilst continuing to produce numerical controlled measurement and inspection equipment.


In 1975, the government took a 62,5% stake in Ferranti – and injected £15 million in the company. In 1976, the first European microprocessor was launched.


In the eighties and nineties, Ferranti got into some financial and legal trouble, which eventually forced them into bankruptcy in December 1993. Thank goodness, the Belgian subsidiary lived on as Ferranti Computer systems – and is now a healthy, thriving part of the Nijkerk Holding!

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