Elliott Brothers Develop British Satellite.


‘Elliott Brothers are working on a space research project for the British Government. An announcement by the Elliott Automation Group last Saturday gave this news after Air Ministry authorisation. But beyond this news no-one will say anything.’

So starts a story on the front page of Electronics Weekly’s first-ever edition dated September 7th 1960 which kicked off 50 years of continuous reporting on the electronics industry.

The story continues:


‘The statement said that a team of scientists in the research laboratories of Elliott have been working for some time in conjunction with the Royal Aeronautical Establishment, Farnborough, on ‘certain vital aspects’ of a British space project.’


“The project is classified”, the statement concludes, “and no further information is available.’


The story concludes:


‘Our Aeronautical Electronics Correspondent writes: “Elliotts have been engaged for some time on advanced navigation and guidance systems. They are also prominent in the computer field. It seems likely that it is the application of these techniques to a British satellite that they are now working on. This may be a communications satellite of the relay type, rather than a passive reflector type like the American Echo 1”.’



  1. Yes indeed David, Elliott Automation was a pioneering computer company and, in 1967, installed a state-of-the art MOS fab line – a year before Intel was founded expressly to pursue MOS! Unfortunately it was closed down by GEC in 1971. Still, it must have been a heck of a fine place to start work.

  2. When at college in the 60’s my first exposure to computing was an Elliott 803 and a language called Algol. It was quite an impressive machine for it’s time. The arrival of a magnetic tape drive to replace the paper tape (created and printer using Creed ASR 33 teletypes.) was the highlight of my final year.
    Elliott is another example of one of our pioneering companies that were lost to the sands of time. As a result of my Elliott exposure I joined NCR and later IBM.

  3. The Prospero satellite was launched in 1971 with a British rocket from Woomera. Saunders Roe on the Isle of Wight built major parts of the system which were tested at a still visible testsite close to the Needles before shipment to Australia. We don’t hear enough about what those teams achieved back then.

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