The ICT 1301 Resurrection Project.
The GEC Factory staff.
The Role of the SPON Steet Factory Staff
Who When and Where.
Professor Anthony Davies
worked in the GEC factory where the early machines were made
These are some of his remenicenses
Actually, I am pleased to know that the GEC872 transistors are surviving well. They (and the lower
frequency GET103, GET104) were very robust against overload and various forms of misuse, and when Mullard
took over, there was general disappointment on the GEC side that Mullard rather quickly began to phase out the
GEC types and put the emphasis entirely on what we considered to be inferior Mullard OA types.
I also remember being rather cross with Mullard at about that time, after they discovered that customers were
scratching the black paint off OA71 transistors and using them as if they were OCP71 phototransistors. To prevent
customers turning cheap OA71s into expensive OCP71s, they started filling the glass envelopes of OA71s with a
non-transparent material which prevented them acting as phototransistors even when the black paint was scratched off.
When I worked at Hazel Grove, the GET872s were considered to be r.f. amplifier transistors, I do not think that
they were designed or characterised for use as switches. In 1959, computers used valves, not transistors. A
Ferranti Pegasus computer was installed at Southampton University while I was an undergraduate there, it had
its own large purpose-built building, and of course it was all valves (mainly double triodes). The main store
was a rotating magnetic drum.
I have had another look through my GEC notebook.
Maybe the following is
of interest: From an entry of June 1962, I wrote that the Spon Street Machine Shops (called Section 218) 'sell'
their products to the other GEC Divisions (this being a new principle in GEC at the time, I suppose introduced
y Lord Weinstock) and at that time much of their activity was making metal parts for the 1301 and for products
associated with government and admiralty contracts. The activity included cutting up huge sheets of copper clad
laminate to make the printed circuit boards for the 1301. They also punched the main locating holes, etc.
although the etching and drilling of component holes was done elsewhere by a punched-tape controlled drilling
machine. Some small boards were etched in groups of five or so on a single board, and then cut up afterwards.
This activity resulted in many small offcuts of copper laminated board being scrapped, and from the scrap, I
acquired a certain amount of supplies for electronic gadgets that I was making at home. I had a large bottle of
Ferric Chloride from a local chemist' shop and made simple printed circuits by hand, one of the by-products of
great annoyance to my wife being brown stains on my handkerchiefs which could not be washed out.
The Spon Street machine shops were considered very old fashioned in their structure, most of the machines were
belt driven from rotating pulleys coupled to shafts along the ceilings going to a single drive-source.
The crticisims which I used to hear were that GEC was too miserly to spend money on updating this ancient
concept to modern machines with their own motive power. The workers were very keen on their tea breaks, all
machines stopped completely when it was tea break time, and any visitor or student or apprentice who tried
to do anything resembling 'work' durng a tea break risked triggering a strike. Overtime was important, the idea
being to do as little work as possible during normal working time, and so to maximise the amount of overtime,
when the pay rate was doubled. I noticed that I called it the ICT 1301 in my notebook at that time, so
although it was considered to be a GEC Computer', ICT must already have taken ownership of the name by 1962.
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 !
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wherever you see it on the Site.
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