English Electric KDF9

English Electric KDF9

English Electric KDF9

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Description:
KDF9 was an early British computer designed and built by English Electric, later English Electric Leo Marconi, EELM, later still incorporated into ICL. It first came into service in 1964 and was still in use in 1980 in at least one installation. The present article presents a synoptic overview of the architecture of the KDF9; for a more complete account, see ‘The English Electric KDF9’, and ‘The Hardware of the KDF9’, at the links below.

Architecture

The logic circuits of the KDF9 were entirely solid-state. The KDF9 used transformer-coupled diode-transistor logic, built from germanium diodes, about 20,000 transistors, and about 2,000 toroid pulse transformers. They ran on a 1 MHz two-phase clock. The maximum configuration incorporated 32K words of 48-bit core storage (192K bytes) with a cycle time of 6 microseconds. Each word could hold a 48-bit integer or floating-point number, two 24-bit integer or floating-point numbers, six 8-bit instruction syllables, or eight 6-bit characters. There was also provision for efficient handling of double-word, 96-bit, numbers in both integer and floating point formats. However, there was no facility for byte or character addressing, so that non-numerical work suffered by comparison. Moreover, there was no standard character set. Each I/O device type had its own more or less similar character code. Not every character that could be read from paper tape could be successfully printed, for...
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