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Elliott Brothers (London) Ltd was a long established electrical instruments business which played an early role in the development of computers in the United Kingdom. Significant dates from the timeline of this company are:

Elliott Brothers was a pioneer of Head-up displays (HUDs).

The following Elliott computer models were produced:


An Elliott 4130 was used at RAF Finningley near Doncaster (now the Robin Hood Airport) to drive a duplicated system of cubicles fitted out as navigator stations for the later ill-fated Nimrod reconnaissance aircraft (modified Comets). The instructor could load a sortie and the 4130 would then "fly" it. Student navigators had to maintain a running plot, produce estimates and steering commands, interpret simulated radar images, and generally maintain an awareness of aircraft location. This 4130 was in service during the 1960s and 1970s, and had ferrite core memory, a teletype, two large fixed disc packs, a paper tape punch, a paper tape reader, and binary toggle input switches on the engineers' panel. A large incremental plotter was mounted in front of the instructor's station, on which the progress of the sortie could be monitored. The ferrite core storage was later upgraded to semiconductor memory, and the teletype was replaced by a text-output video terminal. The system was booted by hand: a short bootloader was toggled in from the engineers' panel, which then allowed a rudimentary operating system to be read in from paper tape, which in turn loaded the full operating system from disc. Maintenance of programs, and system diagnostics, were performed by a CP/M microcomputer connected to the CPU using a serial interface.

The Elliott 4130 at Finningley was still in use in 1990 in its upgraded (semiconductor memory, video terminal) form. It was still on site in 1995, but RAF Finningley was decommissioned in 1996, becoming the civil Robin Hood Airport. The School of Navigation at RAF Finningley, to which the 4130 navigation simulator belonged, then moved to No. 6 Flying Training Squadron at RAF Cranwell.

SUCFM is grateful for information on Elliott Brothers received from Ron Bristow (Elliott Bros 1951 - 1953 and 1955 - 1993, and sometime Custodian of the Elliott Archive and Historical Collection, now at the Oxford Museum of the History of Science). For a properly researched account of the Company see Dr Gloria Clifton, Bulletin of the Scientific Society, Bulletin No. 36 (March 1993), and her book Directory of British Scientific Instrument Makers 1550 - 1851.

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Version: 05 18 September 2014 updated by Dr John Wilcock