GEC Years
Honour Roll





The ICT 1301 Resurrection Project.

The Programer

The Role of the Programer

This was very easy ( said he with a smirk ) all you had to do was translate the system analyst's scribbles ( usually on the back of a cigarette packet ) into reliable fully working code which would do the job the System analyst wanted.

To allow you to do this you were ( if you were lucky ) given a set of standard subroutines to access Mag tape records, do simple math and produce output on the Printer, the Card Punch or produce a new Mag tape file.

To enable all of this magic you were not given a Compliler, a Help system or a half decent assembler.

No you were given " Relativiser's " or Relative Relativizer Numbers or R.R.N's

These allowed you to code without the restrictions of absolute Drum and Store (IAS) adresses, all of the addresses bieng "Relative" to each other. Hovever there were only 99 relativizers available.

And here is my most favourite quote from the Manual.
Page 35 of the Bible about programming this system says !

" When several general purpose routines are bieng incorporated into a program it is possible that different routines may make differing uses of the same R.R.N. this is a problem which can be easily overcome by resetting the relativizers using relative relativizers"

WOW ! now that's as clear as Mud can get ( HUH ! )

So hats off to the Programmers who got anything to work at all !

Who Where and When

Jim Biggin
And his Remenisences

Jim Contacted us about his early programming life at the Liverpool Victoria Friendly Society and his development of the first Actuarial Valuation Program for the company, on a 1301 computer, so without further delay click here to view a pdf of his words.

Jim's Story

Marion Clarkson
And her Remenisences

Marion worked at London and Manchester's ( London office ) and has first hand experience of a very rare magnetic tape system, it was Quarter inch. The very slowest ICT made ( but it worked well ) and allowed L and M to run a successful business for the 1970's.

Marion remembers the Coloured Crib Sheet at the back of the program manual, with a vivid recollection of its data flow between registers. Yes you programmed this beast in machine code !

Pat Taylor/Allen/Skinner
And her Remenisences

Pat did testing in the Factory and spent time in the Putney office
Pat has reminded me of some of the other people in putney, such as
Mike Curley and Mike Allen, the later of whom actually changed this ladies name.

Pat is going to raid her memories for news of what software she worked with !

Harold Clout
And his Remenisences

I worked at the PSA [formerly MPBW] site for some years - we ran two 1301 machines and two 1302 machines which I understood were the only two manufactured.
Most of my 1300 programming work was done on the 1301 machine - the team I worked in,
was allocated to the 1301 - although we did write some of our applications for the 1302. I can still remember the machine instructions even though it is certainly over 35 years since I actually wrote a 1300 program.

One of the application teams actually produced a system written in COBOL which took hours/days to compile. The standard interface on the 1302 enabled the attachment of some 7 track tapes which were used to transfer application data when the systems were rewritten for the 1900 series machines.

Royce Smith
And his Remenisences

Royce has contacted us to remind us about the languages from these days of computing hostory, Royce used MPL-2 a lot in Australia and now has been working on an interpreter to run MPL-2 on a PC. We are talking to Royce to see if he wants to make the interpreter available ?

Royce used MPL-2 a lot and even modifed the code when Sterling vanished and Dollar's came in !

Keith Lightfoot
And his Remenisences

Self Confessed Computer Geek
Christchurch, New Zealand
In 1969 I became a computer programmer, without even knowing what a computer was, let alone the skills required.

There were no computers in the school system, no computers in the home and no computers in the workplace, except for the odd scattering of huge mainframe computers, owned and operated by the machine companies or large organisations using highly trained specialist staff.

The subject of computers appeared without warning when an announcement was made from stage during school assembly, “anyone interested in being a computer programmer, see me afterwards!” by a careers advisor/teacher who had never seen a computer, let alone work with one. After completing a written aptitude test supervised by ICT staff members, I was advised that I was particularly suitable for the role.

No one was more surprised than me at this result, but I accepted the position without a clue of what was required and stepped into the world of IT along a handful of other brace souls, who had also scored well in the aptitude test.

Computer interface methods were very rudimentary in the sixties and seventies, operating systems were non existent or barely visible and computer geeks were definitely computer geeks. I have very fond memories of my time with the ICT 1301, it was definitely a very tactile relationship, it was big, beautiful, colourful and very noisy, and it needed loads of engineering TLC to keep it alive.

Looking back on the technology (or lack of it) and even trying to imagine how the USA managed to get men to the moon and back in 1969, makes their achievement all the more extraordinary. We programmed initially in machine code, then developed commercial applications using MPL, before replacing the unit with an ICL 1902 and moving to COBOL.

Steve Tringham
And his Remenisences

Thanks to the experience I had at Galdor I've worked in IT throughout my career for all sorts of businesses and organisations - starting with the DHSS and Surrey County Council.

I worked in Sperry Univac EXEC 8 Asssembler for a while at Surrey and develped interfaces to let schools BBC and RM Micro's connect up the the SCC mainframes.

Lots of development stuff from programmer to architect and most of the last 20 years in all kinds of IT and Software House management roles. I'm IT director here at Inpharmatica which is an interesting Biotech with a pretty large infrastructure - lots of Linux plus the usual corporate stuff.

all the best Steve.

Jeremy Haywood
And his Remenisences

I was a programmer at Putney Bridge (ICT), Selfridges and Carreras Rothmans in Basildon on 1301's (machine code) between 1962 and 1966. I renewed acquaintances with a 1300 at Invergordon Distillers in 1968.

The main (only?) application at Selfridges was "Purchase Ledger" - paying suppliers. (The telephone number was still Mayfair 1234). The standard ICT supplied (on punched cards) utility software was very hardware orientated. The time for the instructions could not exceed the given time, so you had to add up the instruction times carefully! Drum Sorts - according to core size.

Magnetic Tape Sort(s) for the machines with Ampex tape decks (terribly unreliable at Selfridges). Division was done by subroutine (ICT provided).

I seem to remember that PAYE subroutines were provided by ICT as payroll was a popular application.

On the scientific side there were applications packages available for Linear Programming and "Least Cost Mix"

(Cattlefeed formulation - again Linear Programming).

ICT attempted to get "Rapidwrite" (A COBOL forerunner) off the ground on the 1301 but it flopped. Carreras Rothmans was a test site for this but it was abandoned.

The main applications at Carreras were Sales Orders, Sales statistics and production control. I wrote some sales analysis programs detailing where TV advertising was successful (and where chewing tobacco was sold, then a lot in Yorkshire where it was chewed "down the pit" by coal miners.

Most user wrote machine code directly in "relativised" blocks. Later an assembler called MPL was provided by ICT and this was widely used on the 1300.

Other "funnies" about the machine I remember that it was possible to set it on fire by program (constantly energising the printer "sprag" solenoids).

The machines were later modified with fuses or cutouts to prevent this!

Also - every six months the engineers were supposed to tap each PCB with A "Thorlite" hard/soft headed hammer - to find loose connections.

I remember seeing the low voltage supply being modernised on the Carreras Machine in 1964 or 1965 - it was originally lead acid batteries (telephone exchange technology!).

Still earlier I spent 3 days while at school at Letchworth and Stevenage (1959?) and saw Tabulators being built as well as the prototype ICT 1400 (with double triodes). This was abandoned when the IBM 1401 was launched and ICT obtained the 1301 design (From GEC telephones in Coventry?).

Anything else you want to know about programming the 1301 might still be in the recesses of my grey matter - I also know of another former 1301 programmer who is still around and contactable.


The Roll of Honour.

So many people have given time and help with this project we have created a
Roll of Honour to ensure nobody is forgotten !

The Roll

(Designed for 640 x 480, 800 x 600 or 1024 x 768 Resolution) a 'POPUP' and 'FRAMES' free zone

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