Oral history of British science

Bird, Raymond (Part 15 of 15). An Oral History of British Science

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  • Subjects

    Computer Hardware; Electronics

  • Recording date


  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home, Newbury

  • Interviewees

    Bird, Raymond, 1923- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 15: Comments on job at ICL preparing the company for BS5750, a standard to control production and quality of equipment, and being employed after he left ICL to assess computer companies for BS5750 before becoming a BS5750 consultant. [04:00] Comments on preparing a company for BS5750 and criteria for a company's compliance, such as organisation and quality testing. Remarks on dealing with reluctant staff to uncover problems that bosses have hidden, techniques for getting people to talk, such as silence. [10:20] Anecdote about uncovering a room full of junk components at a company. Remarks on assessing ICL and on drawing standards. [13:45] Remarks on: starting his own assessing company, changing focus to look at smaller companies; dealing with companies; changes in organisations to ensure standards are kept; enjoyed work, made friends; process becoming automatic with experience. [16:10] Anecdote about BS5750 training course advice for dealing with bosses. Remarks on mainly working with electronics or service companies, retiring in his early 70s after his wife's death in 1990. Remarks on: visiting high-tech companies around Cambridge, reasons for enjoying work. [19:45] Remarks on activities since retirement: travel, reading, shooting, visiting children. Comments on holidays: adventurous but safe; desert crossings; childhood experiences of exploring on his bicycle; posting to India in RAF where he visited Rawalpindi, Kashmir, Himalayas; camping across Europe with his family postwar; scuba diving in Australia, Mediterranean and Red Sea, where he visited Mons Claudianus and became interested in deserts. [25:00] Comments on interest in deserts: exploring the eastern desert and Roman Castelli with a friend; meeting an archaeologist and getting interested in tablets; visiting western desert, Bahariya, Farafra and Dakhla Oasis in 1990s; cancelled trip across desert to Ghana and Niger leading him meet rock art expert Andras Zboray, with whom RB has since been on several trips to help find rock art; cancelled trip to Sudan; subsequent trips with Kit Constable Maxwell and south pole trekker Hannah McKeand to Egyptian, Libyan and Algerian desert; following Long Range Desert Group routes across Libya with Richard Noble. [29:55] Remarks on visiting Jebel Akhdar mountains in Oman with his engineer son-in-law Gerry. Comments on expeditions to Leh, Ladakh and Lamontagne in the Himalayas, as organised by Phillipa Treadwell and Susie Raye. Comments on visit to the source of the Oxus River in the Wakhan Corridor in Afghanistan, remarks on the history of the area and anecdote about landing at war torn Kabul airport. [34:20] Remarks on highpoints of career: design of HEC computer; not liking being a manager; not being able to pick up only one single individual who influenced him more than others. Discussion about interview: enjoyed it, ego trip, refreshed memory, not sure of its historical value, being set in his ideas, quality of memory, telling his children. [38:35] Remarks on: desire to ally interview to photographs. Discussion over possible uses for interview, American purchases of archives. Remarks on treatment of computer history, with reference to ADB's status as almost a genius. Further remarks on taking part in project as a whole.

  • Description

    Interview with electrical engineer and computer designer Dr Raymond Bird.

  • Related transcripts

    Raymond Bird interviewed by Thomas Lean: full transcript of the interview

  • Related links

    Visit this interviewee's page on the 'Voices of Science' web resource

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