Oral history of British science
Edwards, David (Dai) (Part 5 of 13). An Oral History of British Science.
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Computer Software; Electronics
Interviewee's home, Preston
Edwards, David B.G., 1928- (speaker, male)
Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)
Part 5: Remarks on nature of department: people getting on well together, but not tending to socialise outside; TK commuting; TT and DE playing rugby together and using the lab facilitates to work on their motorcycles; technicians largely keeping to themselves; secretary known as 'The Fairy'; Christmas parties and parties at TK's; celebration of degrees at pub, sometimes with Ferranti personnel. [04:40] Remarks on relations between staff and students, having lunch together, later eating sandwiches and pies on the job while working on Atlas. Remarks on working long hours on Atlas and as a student. [mic noise] Remarks on getting married in 1953, birth of children in late 1950s, death of father in 1960s. [10:40] Comments on work in 1960s: Atlas; Biomark with Tropical Medicine Institute; magnetic tapes with ICI; X-ray goniometer. Comments on funding of computer development from funds earned by computer service from external user. [15:30] Comments on Ferranti: loaned equipment, had own computer interests such as Pegasus, occasional rivalry between proposals, [mic noise], limited contact with Ferranti when they produced Mercury, progress meetings between Ferranti and University, supply of complete units from Ferranti or Atlas, [20:20] subcontracted work to Plessey, description of meetings with Plessey at the Whitehouse, generosity of hospitality. [23:40] Comments on a 1957 visit to Portugal to give lectures on computing in the UK for the British Council [short pause]. Remarks on 1950s, 1960s and 1970s visits to the USA, Italy, Russia with TK, Sweden, Hong Kong, Switzerland with Keith Bowden [KB], [mic blowing noise] and Paris. [31:00] Remarks on benefits of travel: meeting people, discovering component costs abroad, learning about different techniques. Comments on 1957 visit to the USA and Canada to survey computer development: Toronto University, Ottawa government computing, Canadian insurance company, IBM Poughkeepsie, Bell Labs, MIT, J. Presper Eckert [JPE] and John Mauchly [JM] in Philadelphia. [34:30] Remarks on meeting JPE and JM, being surprised at lingering revolutionary war sentiment in Philadelphia. [mic noise] Comments on earlier patent dispute over CRT between FCW and JPE and JM. Remarks on visit to IBM: huge facility, surprised by lack of communication within company. Remarks on stressful nature of long work trips abroad. [40:20] Comparison of commercial computer production in the UK and USA: limited success in UK due to market size [mic noise] and inability to penetrate American market, faster American machines, Elliot and Ferranti military computing, lack of political support for Atlas computer project.
Interview with computer scientist and electrical engineer David (Dai) Edwards.