“Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, artists gradually became aware of the unusually precise nature of the imagery generated by computers, as did people from other fields.
Among them was a lecturer at the University of Manchester, Desmond Paul Henry. The university was responsible for important early advances in computer science, not least in building the world’s first stored-program computer, the Manchester Small-Scale Experimental Machine, which was nicknamed ‘Baby’ when it was completed in 1948. Henry took a keen interest in such developments, but as an observer, not a participant. He taught philosophy at the university, and had discovered computers as a technical clerk for the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers during the Second World War. In 1951, while browsing around the second-hand bookstalls on Shudehill in Manchester, Henry went into an army surplus warehouse and spotted an old Sperry bombsight computer used by British bomber aircraft to calculate when to release their bombs. He bought it for £50, a substantial sum at the time, and rigged it up to guide ballpoint pens and, later, technical tube pens across paper. After his first machine died, Henry recycled some of the components into a new one and subsequently repeated the process to build a third. He exhibited his mechanical drawings at local art galleries in Manchester and also in ‘Cybernetic Serendipity’, the 1968 survey of computer art at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, which later toured to the United States.”
–Rawsthorn, Alice.Hello World: Where Design Meets Life. London: Hamish Hamilton, 2013. (viacarvalhais)