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Sir Frederic Calland Williams, CBE FRS[2][3] (26 June 1911 – 11 August 1977),[2][4] known as 'F.C. Williams' or (less often[citation needed]) 'Freddie Williams',[5] was an English engineer.[6][7][8][9][10][11]

F.C. Williams
Born Frederic Calland Williams
(1911-06-26)26 June 1911
Died 11 August 1977(1977-08-11) (aged 66)
Nationality English
Citizenship British
Education Stockport Grammar School
Alma mater
Known for
Scientific career
Thesis Problems of spontaneous oscillation in electrical circuits (1936)
Doctoral students Tom Kilburn[1]



Williams was born in Stockport, and educated at Stockport Grammar School. He went on to the Victoria University of Manchester where he was awarded Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees. He was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1936[12] where he was a postgraduate student of Magdalen College, Oxford.[13]

Research and careerEdit

Working at the Telecommunications Research Establishment (TRE), he was a substantial contributor during World War II to the development of radar.[14]

In 1946 he was appointed as head of the Electrical Engineering Department of the University of Manchester. There, with Tom Kilburn and Geoff Tootill, he pioneered the first stored-program digital computer, the Manchester Small-Scale Experimental Machine, more popularly known as the “Baby”).[14]

Williams is also recognised for his invention of the Williams-Kilburn tube, an early memory device.[14]

He died in Manchester, aged 66.

Awards and honoursEdit

Williams was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1950. His nomination reads


  1. ^ Kilburn, Tom (1948). A storage system for use with binary digital computing machines. (PhD thesis). University of Manchester. EThOS 
  2. ^ a b Kilburn, T.; Piggott, L. S. (1978). "Frederic Calland Williams. 26 June 1911-11 August 1977". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 24: 583. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1978.0020. 
  3. ^ a b "EC/1950/25 Williams, Sir Frederic Calland: Library and Archive Catalogue". London: The Royal Society. Archived from the original on 30 April 2014. 
  4. ^ "Corrigenda: Frederic Calland Williams. 26 June 1911-11 August 1977". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 25: 0–1. 1979. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1979.0001. 
  5. ^ "Frederic Calland Williams (1911 - 1977)". Archived from the original on 7 January 2010. 
  6. ^ Williams, Frederic; Kilburn, Tom (1948). "Electronic Digital Computers". Nature. 162 (4117): 487. doi:10.1038/162487a0. Archived from the original on 6 April 2009. [dead link]
  7. ^ Anderson David, Delve Janet (2007) Frederic Calland Williams: the Manchester Baby's chief engineer IEEE Annals of the History of Computing 29 (4): 90-102
  8. ^ Williams, F.C.; Kilburn, T. (1949). "A storage system for use with binary-digital computing machines". Proceedings of the IEE - Part II: Power Engineering. doi:10.1049/pi-2.1949.0078. 
  9. ^ Anderson, D. P. (2009). "Interview An interview with Maurice Wilkes". Communications of the ACM. 52 (9): 39. doi:10.1145/1562164.1562180. 
  10. ^ Shelburne, B. J.; Burton, C. P. (1998). "Early programs on the Manchester Mark I Prototype". IEEE Annals of the History of Computing. 20 (3): 4. doi:10.1109/85.707570. 
  11. ^ Burton, C. (1998). "The Manchester baby reborn". IEE Review. 44 (3): 113. doi:10.1049/ir:19980302. 
  12. ^ Williams, Frederic Calland (1936). Problems of spontaneous oscillation in electrical circuits. (DPhil thesis). University of Oxford. EThOS 
  13. ^ WILLIAMS, Prof. Sir Frederic (Calland). Who Was Who. 2017 (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc.    (subscription required)
  14. ^ a b c Napper, Brian (October 2000). "Frederic Calland Williams (1911 - 1977)". University of Manchester. Retrieved 11 December 2015.