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Dr Peter Niblett


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Reference 2001.286
Covering dates 1960-1985
Held by Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester
Extent 6 boxes/2 lm

Administrative history:
Biographical History
Dr Niblett started in computing in 1956 when undertaking a PhD in Theoretical Physics at University College London. There he used a machine designed by A D Booth of Birkbeck College. Having completed his PhD he joined Ferranti on 16 June 1958 as a member of the Computer Research Group based first at Portland Place but then transferred to Bracknell.
At Bracknell he worked on the ASAC-M, POSEIDON and F1600 Series computer development and participated in many studies concerning the potential use of these machines in military, real-time systems. For some of this work he made frequent visits to use the Ferranti PEGASUS computer at the Admiralty Research Laboratory in Teddington. He was intimately involved with the logic designer in the definition of the instruction sets for POSEIDON and F1600 and in the generation of the support software (such as bootstrap from paper tape, program input routines etc) and hardware test programs. It was during this time that Ferranti gave up its commercial interests to ICL, and Bracknell became a specialist, real-time system part of Ferranti - not then related to the Wythenshawe Argus development and application stream.
He was then put in charge of all program development for the Bracknell Division at the start of a period of rapid growth. After a relatively short time he was managing about 600 people both at Bracknell but also at various outstations including Royal Navy Establishments at Portsmouth and Weymouth. His staff were frequently involved in the setting-to-work of systems in various shipyards during construction and at sea on formal trials. He became particularly concerned with the management of software development, from estimating to controlling the recruitment, training and allocation of staff to projects. A further related aspect was the definition of standards and procedures to be used for operational program development to meet ever more stingent demands from the Ministry of Defence.
On the technical side he initiated the development of the FIXPAC [Fixed Point Autocode, in contrast to the Ferranti PEGASUS Autocode which was based mainly on the use of floating-point variables). They used the same symbols (such as "v" and "n") as Autocode as they were available on the 5-hole paper tape used at that time to refer to the F1600 machine registers. Any assembler has to take account of the constraints of memory then available - most commonly 4096 24-bit words. Dr Niblett was involved in the specification of real-time supervisors, the range of library routines and their comprehensive testing for accuracy. The growth of the internal computing facilities and their operation to meet the increasing need for program development time was a significant responsibility.
In 1974, it became necessary for the Division to seek premises in a new part of the country to tap a new pool of potential staff as it was proving to recruit and retain enough suitable people in the Bracknell area. He thus moved to Cwmbran, South Wales to set up a programming operation there and this grew quite rapidly and undertook the provision of software development tools and hardware test programs for all of the Bracknell Division.
In the early 1980s a Divisional reorganisation took place and a significant hardware development capability was brought to Cwmbran to support the whole of the Division. Eventually Dr Niblett ceased his line management role and became a Software Consultant, reporting directly to the Divisional Manager. In this capacity he became more concerned with computer facilities for management as well as for technical staff as well as with many new technical developments such as Expert Systems and Security issues. He also became involved with moves to maximise the benefits of closer cooperation between the Bracknell and Wythenshawe technical staff.
The Ferranti Company was in financial difficulties in the early 1990s. Dr Niblett's post was made redundant in 1990.

Contents:
Papers relating to the Computer Division at Ferranti International PLC
The collection is almost entirely technical in nature and deals with the development of various programming systems used by Dr Niblett during the course of his working life at Ferranti.



POSEIDON - INNER ORDER DETAILS  2001.286/1/1  Nov 1961

Contents:
1) Sheet detailing the INER Order Code
2) The contents of the 256 locations of the Fixed Program Store
3) A description of Poseidon initial orders

POSEIDON - DIAGNOSTIC ROUTINES  2001.286/1/2  1964

Contents:
Method of use, fault stop tables and program description with block flow diagrams

FM1600E COMPUTER SYSTEMS - DESIGN SPECIFICATIONS  2001.286/1/3  Dec 1974

Contents:
F1600 series instruction code specification for FM1600D/FM1600E, Report 2033, Issue 1/S15
FM1600D design specification, DS1100, Issue 6/S15
FM1600E central processor design specification, DS1111, Issue 4/S16
FM1600E input/output controller design specification, DS1112, Issue 4/S16
Ferranti B serial interface specification & operational description, Report 962, Issue 4/S15
Ferranti MK II store interface specification, C27/59, Issue 4/S15
Describes the particular features of some of the later variants of the F1600 Series

FM1600D/FM1600E COMPUTER SYSTEMS - PRINCIPLES  2001.286/1/4  Dec 1974

Contents:
Report 2034 Issue 1
Ch1 Introduction
Ch2 FM1600D/E System Architecture
Ch3 FM1600D/E Real Time Input / Output Operation
Ch4 System Configurations
Ch5 Standard Equipment Practice - STEP
Ch6 System Built-in Test Equipment
App A STEP Environmental Standards
App B STEP and Airborne Equipment Standards
Describes the particular features of some of the later variants of the F1600 Series

INTRODUCTION TO COMPUTERS, TECHNICAL TRAINING CENTRES, STUDENT NOTES  2001.286/1/5  May 1982

Contents:
Introduction to Computers and Language
The basis of the course given to new graduate recruits to the department, covering hardware specialists as background information and, of course, programrs as software practitioners. Similar courses were given to customers.

GENERAL INFORMATION  2001.286/1/6  c1969

Contents:
A Teletype 33 Modified ISO code
B Punching an Autcode Program Tape (Fixpac 3)
C Rules for Drawing Flowcharts
D Programming Group Document Library
E User Code for Computer Room
F System Implementation
G Programming Documentation
H Program History Files
I Catalogue of Reprints
J IMPS - Internal Memos for Programrs
K General Software Memorandum MTP Forms GS3 Issue 2
An internal compendium of many individual documents describing tips and procedures for many aspects of program development

SOFTWARE CONTROL PROCEDURES MANUAL VOLUME 1  2001.286/1/7  1986

Contents:
03260-725 General
Ch1 03260-726 PPAIS Standards
Ch2 03260-727 Computer Centres
Ch3 03260-728 Documentation
Ch4 03260-729 Associated Services
Developed to meet the demands of the main customer (MoD) for visible quality control in the generation of software, particularly for real-time military applications

SOFTWARE CONTROL PROCEDURES MANUAL VOLUME 2  2001.286/1/8  1986

Contents:
03260-730 General
Section 1 03260-731 Project Software Codes of Practice
03260-732 Software Development
Section 2 03260-733 to 741 Phase Procedures
03260-733 Ch1 The Pre-development Phase
03260-734 Ch2 The Initialisation Phase
03260-735 Ch3 The Design Phase
03260-736 Ch4 The Code & Test Phase
03260-737 Ch5 The Integration and Acceptance Phase
03260-739 Ch6 The Modification/Maintenance Phase
03260-741 Ch7 Phase Independence Task and Procedures
Developed to meet the demands of the main customer (MoD) for visible quality control in the generation of software, particularly for real-time military applications

REALTIME SOFTWARE DOCUMENTATION SPECIFICATION PZ188  2001.286/2/1  1980

Contents:
Software Documentation Requirement
Levels of Documentation
Data Documentation
Annex A - Exceptions, Additional Information, Support, Test Information & Symbology
Annex B - Glossary of Terms and Abbreviations
Annex C - Documentation Reference System
Describes the formal specification of documentation required for each real-time system software component and the design process.

DESIGN INFORMATION SYSTEM FOR SOFTWARE PZ188 EDT2  2001.286/2/2  July 1985

Contents:
Part A Specification
Part B Guidelines
Part C Specification Variations
Part D Examples (Never added)
Describes the formal specification of documentation required for each real-time system software component and the design process.

F 1600 SERIES PROGRAMMING MANUAL  2001.286/2/3  May 1978

Contents:
Ch1 Introduction to FIXPAC
Ch2 Symbols and Data Formats
Ch3 Complete FIXPAC Program
Ch4 Fixed Point Arithmetic Statements
Ch5 Logic Statements
Ch6 Shift Statements
Ch7 Index Register of Operations
Ch8 Q Staticiser Statements
Ch9 Jump Statements
Ch10 Subroutines
Ch11 Floating Point Statements
Ch12 Extra Code Statements
Ch13 Miscellaneous Statements
Ch14 Standard Interface and Peripheral Handling
Ch15 F1600 Machine Code
Ch16 The Compiler
Ch17 Assembly
Ch18 Directives
Ch19 Binary Formats
Ch20 The Bootstrap, Charbin, Checked Binary Output & Autochout
Ch21 Miss-minimal Software Scheme
Ch22 Utility Programs
Ch23 System Integrations
App A Instruction Code Tables
App B Summary of FIXPAC Statements
App C Syntax of FIXPAC Statements
App D Summary of Directives
App E Teletype 33 Modifies ISO Code
App F AB Field to Decimal Conversion
App G Binary to Decimal Conversions
App H Multi-Computer Working
App J Miscellaneous Programming Techniques
App K Glossary
App L FIXPAC Compiler Error Messages, Compiler/Assembly Stops
Describes programming in FIXPAC, the assembly level language for the F1600 Series of 3-address order code computers. This order code, described by Harry Johnson (by then DSD Sales Manager) as "function rich", was designed to allow rapid processing of individual bits of data as required in the real-time hardware control environments in which F1600 series computers were largely used in Naval Applications. The logical designer, as for the earlier POSEIDON computer, was Geoff Nutter, with myself involved to assess the practicality of use of the various features included from the program writer's viewpoint and to provide the early support software, such as bootstraps, "Initial Orders", hardware test programs (including checking their operation and assisting in determining any logic changes required), etc. FICPAC used the symbols available on the early on the early 5-hole PEGASUS teleprinters for PEGASUS AUTOCODE. The name FIXPAC refers to FIXed Point AutoCode, to distinguish it from the PEGASUSU item. In particular, "v" refers to the computer's "fast registers" (23 of them) and "n" to the store address registers.

INTRODUCTION TO DSD SOFTWARE  2001.286/2/4  Aug 1976

Contents:
Ch1 Manual Overview
Ch2 Assembly
Ch3 Compilers
Ch4 Computing Centres
Ch5 Coral
Ch6 Disc Working
Ch7 Documentation
Ch8 Drum Working
Ch9 Dumps
Ch10 Editing
Ch11 General
Ch12 Library Manipulation
Ch13 Macro Processors
Ch14 Magnetic Tape Working
Ch15 Operating Systems
Ch16 Packages
Ch17 Patching
Ch18 Source Code Production
Ch19 Supervisors
Ch20 Testing
A document describing the context in which DSD existed and in which the software was used.

DSD CODE OF PRACTICE VOLUME 1, PROGRAMMING MANAGEMENT MANUAL  2001.286/2/5  1970

Contents:
Ch1 Introduction
Ch2 Preparation of Proposals
Ch3 Estimating
Ch4 Administrative Procedures
Ch5 Project Software Control
Ch6 Project Software Liaison
Ch7 Administrative Structure of the Programming Groups (Never added) Code of Practice
Module Development Procedure
Section 1 Terms of Reference for Design Engineers
Section 2 Typical Module Development Procedure
Section 3 Module Technical Documentation
Section 4 Glossary of Terms
Further stages in the history of development of procedures for software development, covering both the management and technical aspects of the task from problem identification to setting-to-work the solution.

DSD CODE OF PRACTICE VOLUME 2, PROGRAMMING DESIGN MANUAL  2001.286/2/6  1973/1974

Contents:
Ch1 Introduction
Ch2 Program Development and Associated Good Practices
Ch3 Program and Document Issuing and Amendment Procedures
Ch4 Use of the Computer Centre and Services
Ch5 Documentation
Further stages in the history of development of procedures for software development, covering both the management and technical aspects of the task from problem identification to setting-to-work the solution.

DSD COMPUTER OPERATORS MANUAL, VOLUME 1, GENERAL INSTRUCTIONS  2001.286/3/1  1978/1980

Contents:
Part 1 General Principles of Computers
Part 2 Principles of F1600 Series Computers
Part 3 Administrative Procedures
Part 4 Miscellaneous Information
Part 5 Emergency Procedures
Relates to the operation of Ferranti's internal computer systems used on a service basis for application program development, frequently on a 3-shift rota

DSD COMPUTER OPERATORS MANUAL, VOLUME 2, OPERATING INSTRUCTIONS  2001.286/3/2  1978

Contents:
Part 1 Computer Operation
Part 2 Software Operation
Part 3 Peripheral Operation
Part 4 Test Procedures
Relates to the operations of Ferranti's internal computer systems used on a service basis for application program development, frequently on a 3-shift rota

CORAL 64 USER MANUAL VOLUME 1A, INTRODUCTION  2001.286/3/3  1969-1970

Contents:
Ch1 An Introduction to the F1500 CORAL 64 Compiling System
Ch2 An Introduction to CORAL 64
Shows Ferranti's early venture into compiler provision, based on the language initially developed at RSRE for a particular project. The first CORAL compiler was written under a contract from MoD (ASWE, Portsdown) in conjunction with CAP, initially involving Alex d'Agapeyeff and Barnsey Gibbons in person.

CORAL 64 USER MANUAL, VOLUME 1B, THE LANGUAGE  2001.286/3/4  1969

Contents:
Ch3 Coral Symbols
Ch4 Constants
Ch5 Simple Variables
Ch6 Arrays
Ch7 Tables
Ch8 Overlay
Ch9 Bit and Byte Modifiers
Ch10 Expressions
Ch11 Simple Statements
Ch12 Conditional Statements
Ch13 Loop Statements
Ch14 Switches
Ch15 Procedures and Functions
Ch16 Miscellaneous Features
Ch17 Direct Code
Shows Ferranti's early venture into compiler provision, based on the language initially developed at RSRE for a particular project. The first CORAL compiler was written under a contract from MoD (ASWE, Portsdown) in conjunction with CAP, initially involving Alex d'Agapeyeff and Barnsey Gibbons in person.

CORAL 64 USER MANUAL VOLUME 1C, SUPPORT SOFTWARE  2001.286/3/5  1969-1970

Contents:
Ch18 Compool
Ch19 The Supervisor
Ch20 The Test System
Ch21 The Supervisor Data Area Generator
Ch22 Examples of CORAL 64 Programs
Ch23 Guidelines for Efficient Programming
Shows Ferranti's early venture into compiler provision, based on the language initially developed at RSRE for a particular project. The first CORAL compiler was written under a contract from MoD (ASWE, Portsdown) in conjunction with CAP, initially involving Alex d'Agapeyeff and Barnsey Gibbons in person.

CORAL 64 USER MANUAL VOLUME 2 & 3, OPERATIONS  2001.286/3/6  1969-1971

Contents:
Ch1 Punching Rules
Ch2 Teleprinter Code
Shows Ferranti's early venture into compiler provision, based on the language initially developed at RSRE for a particular project. The first CORAL compiler was written under a contract from MoD (ASWE, Portsdown) in conjunction with CAP, initially involving Alex d'Agapeyeff and Barnsey Gibbons in person.

CORAL 66 USER MANUAL  2001.286/3/7  1977

Contents:
Part 1 Language Definition
Part 2 Compiler Operation
Shows our need to adopt the improved version of CORAL, as subsequently promoted by RSRE, for the F1600 Series. The advent of this definition of CORAL lead to our earlier version being called CORAL 64, to distinguish it from CORAL 66.

CORAL 66 USER MANUAL FM1600 SERIES  2001.286/3/8  1978-1985

Contents:
Ch1 Introduction
Ch2 Language Elements
Ch3 Program Structure and Scoping
Ch4 Declaration of Variables
Ch5 Data Access
Ch6 Labels Switches and Go to Statements
Ch7 Expressions
Ch8 Expressions (VAX Hosted Compiler)
Ch9 Procedures
Ch10 Code Statements
Ch11 Communicators
Ch12 Macros
App A CORAL66 Syntax
App B Comparisons with the BSI Specification of CORAL 66
App C Extensions to the BSI Specification CORAL 66
App D Floating Point
App E Features Retained for Compatability
Section 3 03260-742 Quality Characteristics and Check Lists
Section 4 03260-745 Quality Control System Reviews
Section 5 03260-746 Index to the File of Published Procedures
Shows our need to adopt the improved version of CORAL, as subsequently promoted by RSRE, for the F1600 Series. The advent of this definition of CORAL lead to our earlier version being called CORAL 64, to distinguish it from CORAL 66.

FORTRON IV USER MANUAL  2001.286/4/1  1975

Contents:
Part I Definition of Terminology
Part II Standard Fortran Statements
Part III Procedures and Subprograms
Part IV Side Effects and Restrictions
Part V Direct Code Compilation System
App A Stack and Storage Allocations
App B File Packages
App C Efficiency in Writing Fortran Programs

SAMOS USER MANUAL  2001.286/4/2  1978

Contents:
Ch1 System Configuration
Ch2 Job Control Language
Ch3 Terminals
Ch4 Text Editor
Ch5 User Written Macros
Ch6 Software Control Interface
Ch7 Stream Interface
Ch8 File Interface
Ch9 Direct Access to Peripherals
Ch10 Operator Procedures
App A Summary of Errors
App B System File Names
App C System Message File
Covers the multi-access operating system used on those internal systems for some time.

F1600 SERIES SUPERVISOR USER MANUAL  2001.286/4/3  1971-1972

Contents:
Part 1 General Description
Ch1 Introduction to the F1600 Series Supervisor
Ch2 Program Control
Ch3 Store Control
Ch4 Peripheral Control
Ch5 Program Selection
Part 2 User Instructions
Ch1 Use of the Supervisor
Ch2 User-Supplies Sub-routines
Ch3 Fault Finding
Ch4 Supervisory Subroutine Specifications
Ch5 Assembly Information
Describes Ferranti's Operating Systems for control of real-time applications. The 2 variations catered for different "size" target systems.

F1600 SERIES MINI SUPERVISOR USER MANUAL  2001.286/4/4  1978

Contents:
Part 1 General Description
Ch1 Introduction to the F1600 Series Mini Supervisor
Ch2 Program Control
Ch3 Peripheral Management
Ch4 Program Selection
Part 2 User Instructions
Ch1 Supervisor Use
Ch2 User Supplied Subroutines
Ch3 Supervisor Data Areas
Ch4 Fault Finding
Ch5 Supervisory Subroutine Specifications
Ch6 Assembly Information
Ch7 Summary of the Mini Supervisor
Describes Ferranti's Operating Systems for control of real-time applications. The 2 variations catered for different "size" target systems.

F1600 SERIES PUBLIC LIBRARY SUBROUTINE SPECIFICATIONS, VOLUME 1  2001.286/4/5  1977-1979

Contents:
Public Library Subroutine Specifications No 1 to 999
Made up a continually developing document as new sub-routines were developed. Each routine was extensively tested to see that it met its specification, particularly for numerical accuracy.

F1600 SERIES PUBLIC LIBRARY SUBROUTINE SPECIFICATIONS, VOLUME 2  2001.286/4/6  1979

Contents:
Public Library Subroutine Specifications No 53000 to 62370
CORAL Declaration Index
CORAL Standard Library SIP
Full Public Library SIP
Describes Ferranti's Operating Systems for control of real-time applications. The 2 variations catered for different "size" target systems.

F1600 SERIES TEST SYSTEM USER MANUAL  2001.286/4/7  1976

Contents:
Part 1 Introduction to the F1600 Series Test System
Part 2 The Preprocessor
Part 3 The Simulator and Commands
Part 4 Operating Instructions
Describes the system used to test real-time programs in a simulated environment.

F1600 SERIES MAGNETIC TAPE USER MANUAL  2001.286/4/8  1970-1972

Contents:
Part 1 General Information
Part 2 Magnetic Tape Data Package
Part 3 Datamec D2020 Magnetic Tape System
Part 4 Ampex TM-7 & TM-9 Magnetic Tape Systems
Part 5 Ampex ATM-13 Magnetic Tape Systems

POSEIDON LOGIC DIAGRAMS  2001.286/5/1  1960-1961

POSEIDON AUTOCODE AND LIBRARY SUB-ROUTINE BLOCK FLOW DIAGRAMS  2001.286/6/1  1963-1964

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