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First European NC Machine Tool

The First NC Machine Tools

The first NC machine tools were developed from the innovative ideas of American John Parsons, when in 1942 he enquired at Sikorsky Hellicopters about a contract to manufacture rota blade stringers.  By the early 1950’s a number of US companies were working towards the first commercially viable NC Machine, including Arma Corporation, Cincinnati, Giddings & Lewis, Monarch and Kearney & Trecker.  A few prototype machines were demonstrated at the Chicago Machine Tool Exhibition in 1955.

Brighton and the First European NC Machine Tool

In the UK, CVA Ltd of Portland Road, had ties to Kearney & Trecker since WWII, this gave them an advantage in the development of this new technology.  In their own documented history, where the key milestones were used in important sales presentation, the Company claim that in 1956 “the first European numerically controlled contour milling machine was developed in collaboration with Ferranti, and installed at DeHavilland Propellers Lostock just outside Bolton”.  It’s not clear at which of the Brighton factories the machine was produced; probably different parts were made at their factories around the town, and final assembly was carried out at Eaton Road

Modern Materialistic Lifestyle

In 1956 NC was in its infancy, however now worldwide there is probably not a single manufactured item that has not in some way been made possible because of NC machine tools and their successor CNC.  Our modern materialistic lifestyle, where everyone owns numerous manufactured items, has been made possible because of pioneers of NC; CVA/Kearney & Trecker/KTM played a significant role in the development and advancement of this technology!


NC is the acronym for Numeric Control, where the machine tool is positioned using numeric data, however NC Controllers have no computer memory.

CNC is the acronym for Computer Numeric Control, where the machine tool is positioned using numeric data and the CNC Controller does have computer memory.

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The First NC Machine Tool Manufactured in Europe 1956
From the private collection of Peter Groves

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