Dr Catherine Ross has been a decade working on the extensive archives of the Met Office and is a mine of information on its history, role and contributions to many aspects of our nation and individuals . Amongst that is the use of and impact of technology. Catherine traces the use of pre-digital IT back to the employment of the Victorian telegraph to transmit readings and broadcast predictions and storm warnings. Between then and the invention of the stored program digital computer, Dr Ross charts the use of other technologies, including “computors” and the early vision of how armies of people with mechanical calculators might have presaged the use of super computing.
The Met Office was one of the first users of digital computers as we know them in 1951, running its programs on the Leo at Cadby Hall. Its first own computer was a Ferranti Mercury. The Met Office’s ever more sophisticated numerical modelling of the atmosphere has created a continually expanding demand for computing power. That has made it one of the most demanding users of processing power, leading it to use larger and larger supercomputers from Control Data, Cray and IBM.