Pegasus – a vintage British computer

The first Pegasus, produced by the UK company Ferranti Ltd., went into service in March 1956, at a time when all of the computers installed in the UK were designed and built in Britain.

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A Pegasus at Ferranti's London Computer Centre in 1956. Photo courtesy Ferranti Archive and ICL.

Pegasus was noted for its reliability and ease of use. It was the first computer to have a general register set architecture – a feature now seen in most modern computers.

40 Pegasus machines were built by Ferranti Ltd. between 1956 and 1962. Number 25, the only one still working, was installed in a special gallery in the Science Museum, London, in the autumn of 2000. Members of the Computer Conservation Society restored, and now maintain, Pegasus. A Pegasus simulator, running on a PC, is available.

The Science Museum has published an illustrated 60-page booklet written by Simon Lavington, entitled The Pegasus Story.

Some useful Pegasus links:

Chapter-by-chapter notes for the booklet The Pegasus Story.

List of 80 technical references used in writing The Pegasus Story.

The National Archive for the History of Computing, housed at Manchester University, where many of the relevant Pegasus NRDC papers are held. This web site also contains a useful guide to other sources of information on early British computers.

The Museum of Science & Industry in Manchester, where the Ferranti company archives are held and another (non-working) Pegasus is displayed.

Further information from Professor Simon Lavington, Department of Computer Science, University of Essex, Colchester CO4 3SQ.

Last updated: August 2003