On the 29th July 2021 we received this from Ernest Morris, Past President of BCS, Past Chairman of CCS, and a founder member of WCIT
An obituary in The Times on July 1st of Clive Richards said that in 1968 or so Wedd Durlacher Mordaunt & Co bought “the first computer in the City of London” (a LEO III). I wrote to the editor of the Times to say that that was not so. The letter was not published, but in the interest of factual accuracy you might be interested to know that in 1960 C.T. Bowring & Co, a Lloyds Insurance Broker, installed an ICT 1202 computer in The Minories, and replaced it in 1965 with a Honeywell 400 computer which was installed in Tower Place (now occupied by Marsh, which took over CTB some time ago).
I was the manager responsible for that, and have always felt that perhaps that the 1202 was the first computer in the City.
On 27 July 2021 Rob Sherwin, responded to our article in Resurrection, the Journal of the Computer Conservation society
“There is no reference to ICL – Services – Baric Computing Services (My first role in IT was as a 1900 operator). This bureau was leading edge with many large British customers.”
Note from AIT – Certainly an interesting omission. Wikipedia notes re BARIC
This was a joint venture of International Computer Services Ltd (ICSL), a division of ICL, and Barclays Bank, that provided computer services. In the early days of computing many organizations avoided the capital costs of purchasing their own equipment and the recruitment of technical specialists by putting their work out to service companies, such as BARIC, which were known as computer bureaux. BARIC also ran special groups such as the Advanced Videotex team, which investigated how new technologies such as Prestel could be leveraged.
This company operated two ICL 1900 mainframes (1904E and 1905S, in manual and GEORGE II operating system modes) from its head office in Newman Street, London W1. This site housed management, sales and support staff and a large programming team (site closed late 1975). Sales and support offices were in Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cork, Dublin, Glasgow, Stoke-on-Trent, Leeds, Forest Gate London E7, Hartree House Queensway London W2, St Paul’s Churchyard London EC4, Putney SW15 (ICL headquarters) and Manchester. The Queensway site was above Whiteleys department store, and had been used in the 1950s and 1960s by the LEO arm of food company J. Lyons to run data processing and an early bureau service.
In response to the AIT post
Archives of IT offers a new timeline of the industry that has flourished since the invention of the stored program digital computer – see https://archivesit.org.uk/contributions/timeline/
- Are these the events that best summarise what IT and telecoms has done for us? Is there a better set?
- Which was the decade of greatest change? See https://archivesit.org.uk/contributions/90s-revolution/ True or false?
On 16 June 2021 Lee Vinsel Assistant Professor Department of Science, Technology, and Society Virginia Tech, responded
“Thanks so much for sending this to the SIGCIS list. It’s great to learn about.
Sorry if I missed this, but I wonder if it would be good to include stuff on Solow’s so-called productivity paradox – that is, we see computers everywhere but they don’t seem to contribute to productivity as much as their boosters say they do. This may also continue to be true.
Economist Robert Gordon would agree with you that the 1990s was one of the most crucial decades in computing history when it came to broad diffusion of computing power. (My bet is that the 50s-60s is the most important moment for sheer number crunching potential.) But Gordon also argues that the productivity bump that came from computers in the 1990s and early 2000s basically ended after 2004.
Maybe what I’m pointing to is how computers have been oversold as techno-solutions to so many problems.
Thanks again for sending the timeline. I believe I’ll use it in teaching.
Visitors to AIT might be interested in the related links, that expand on the Solow paradox and Gordon’s comments on productivity
https://cs.stanford.edu/people/eroberts/cs201/projects/productivity-paradox/background.html#:~:text=The%20productivity%20paradox%20(also%20the,go%20down%20instead%20of%20up and https://www.bbntimes.com/global-economy/robert-j-gordon-thoughts-on-long-run-us-productivity-growth ”
On 14 June 2021 Herbert Bruderer commented
“My new book and my blog posts might be of interest to you.
Milestones in Analogue and Digital Computinghttps://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783030409739
BLOG@CACM https://cacm.acm.org/blogs/blog-cacm “
“I think this looks excellent. I really enjoyed looking through it, and especially to listening to some of the clips.”
Sam Blaxland, Swansea University, May 2021 on the 90s Revolution
“The archives look to have a rich collection of source material from important figures. For my own research on the history of British telecommunications after World War II, looking at the Post Office and British Telecom before and during privatisation, I can see several areas that the archives would be helpful.”
Jacob Ward, Oxford University, May 2019