Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Elliott Brothers

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February 1904. Motormeter.
October 1909.
1910. Ref AA below
July 1910.
1917.
November 1919.
November 1909.
1961. Ref AA below
1947. Exhibit at the Museu de Electricidade, Madeira

of Century Works, Lewisham, London, SE

Elliott Brothers (London) Ltd was a long established electrical instruments company which played an early role in the development of computers in the United Kingdom,

  • 1800 Company founded by William Elliott in Tash Street, Gray's Inn, London as a maker of drawing instruments.
  • By 1807 the business had been moved to a shop and workshop in High Holborn.
  • 1816 manufacturer of telescopes and barometers, etc.
  • 1830 moved to 56, Strand, London. Willliam took his sons, Charles and Frederick William, into partnership. The company began to manufacture instruments for surveying, for railways (e.g. steam pressure indicators) and scientific instruments of all kinds.
  • 1853 William Elliott died; his sons continued the business as Elliott Bros. [1]
  • In the second half of the 19th century the company began manufacturing electrical instruments.
  • 1889 Produced 'an improved indication piston'. Company described as 'the well-known opticians'. [2]
  • 1893 Elliott Bros. amalgamated with Theiler & Co, telegraph and instrument makers.
  • 1900 moved to new premises: Century Works, Connington Road, Lewisham. Began making speedometers and instruments for ships and aircraft.
  • 1914 Electrical and mechanical engineers. Specialities: ships' logs, gyro-compasses for use on battleships, Wimperis accelerometers and gradometers, all kinds of speed indicators, recorders and switchboard instruments, telegraph apparatus etc. Employees 400 to 500. [3]
  • 1916 Private company.
  • 1920 Jan. Physical and Optical Societies Exhibition. Exhibitor of electrical instruments. [4]
  • 1937 Electrical and mechanical instrument makers. [5]
  • 1945 Company went public.
  • 1946 Research laboratories were set up at Borehamwood.
  • 1947 The company merged with the weighing machine manufacturers B and P Swift. The company began to manufacture computers and flight automation equipment (made at Rochester).
  • 1950 The first Elliott 152 computer appeared in 1950.
  • 1960 The well-known computer scientist, Sir Tony Hoare, was an employee from August 1960 for 8 years. He wrote an ALGOL 60 compiler for the Elliott 803 and also worked on an operating system (Elliott 503 Mark II), although this was less successful and abandoned along with "over thirty man-years of programming effort."
  • 1961 Electrical and mechanical engineers, manufacturing fire control apparatus, precision and electronic equipment for H.M. Ships and instruments and equipment for aircraft. Commercial products include measuring and control instruments, control valves weighing and food preparing machinery and hydraulic pumps. 5,500 employees. [6]
  • 1963 John Lansdown pioneered the use of computers as an aid to planning; making perspective drawings on an Elliott 803 computer, modeling a building's lifts and services, plotting the annual fall of daylight across its site, as well as authoring his own computer aided design applications.
  • 1968 Supplied plug stringers for the Winfrith power station. [7]
  • Elliott Automation (as it had become) merged with the English Electric Co and was then taken over by International Computers and Tabulators (ICT); this marriage was forced by the British Government, who believed that the UK required a strong national computer company, shortly afterwards in 1968. The combined company was called International Computers Ltd. (ICL). Sometime later, ICL was acquired by GEC

See Also

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Sources of Information

  • [1] Wikipedia
  • Mosquito by C. Martin Sharp and Michael J. F. Bowyer. Published by Crecy Books in 1995. ISBN 0-947554-41-6
  • AA. [2] Image courtesy of Aviation Ancestry
  • Records held at Lewisham Local Studies and Archives; abstract from National Archives [3]