Oral history of British science

Land, Frank (5 of 18). An Oral History of British Science.

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  • Subjects

    Computer Software

  • Recording date


  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home, Ivybridge

  • Interviewees

    Land, Fred Frank, 1928- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 5: FL’s father: born 1888, apprenticeship in England; Anglophile, more fond of England than mother, who also had relatives in England. [02:17] Comments on internment: good comradeship amongst prisoners, experiences of Amadeus Quartet and Sir Claus Moser, who FL later knew at LSE; hard experiences of Jews mixed up with Nazi prisoners; father learned to cook. [06:38] Remarks on: probably having a cook in Germany; mother cooking little. [08:00] Description of childhood home in Berlin, much smaller than he remembered, stronger memories of garden where they played. Remarks: on childhood gramophone and scooter; children's camps in Germany and Czechoslovakia. [13:40] Remarks on reading as a young child; Erich Kästner books, such as 'Emil and the Detectives'; not remembering fairy tales. [16:54] Remarks on tastes of childhood, mainly ones not eaten in Britain such as smoked eel; anecdote about childhood scarlet fever changing his tastes; [20:05] anecdote about a meal at Gidleigh Park; eating meat dishes rather than chicken in childhood; [22:03] changes in diet when he was evacuated. [25:43] Comments on: ATC membership, being bad at drill, leaving after war; flying bomb attacks in London. [28:16] Comments on hobby of photography: plate studio camera; developing films; becoming school photographers with friend Steven; studio photography; insisting that his 1980s home had a darkroom, which had to be converted to a nursery for daughter's child; attracted by trying to create quality photographs to decorate; mixed feelings about digital photography; careful photographer but prolific; did own processing. [35:18] Remarks on: stamp collecting as a teenager; his criteria for a good photograph, more concerned with composition than technicalities of photography; changes in photography equipment. [40:10] Comments on LSE: got a 2.1, similar marks as his brother; started a PhD on Sterling Balances, as a result of a discussion with Professor James Mead; enjoying historical aspects of research on shipping conferences for Julia Hood; worked with economist Dorrance on exchange rates; decided to pursue commercial career. [44:20] Comments on first job for Lyons in statistics office, where he enjoyed investigations; details of day to day administrative jobs, which was of great value in showing him business data processing; information infrastructure and systems thinking at Lyons; frustration with colleagues working to how much time they have rather than to complete jobs; example of making a mistake; [52:25] colleagues, boss Alex Kirby and managements arrangements; value of experience in later career; description of open room they worked in; using adding machines, which many clerks thought denigrated from their capabilities; limited knowledge of LEO computer project. [ 57:37] Comments on the Phillips Machine: an analogue computer that modelled the economy using the flow of water; built by LSE lecturer Bill Phillips, New Zealander, engineer, captured by Japanese in war, friend of FL; description of Phillips Machine's modelling of the economy; FL still thinking about economics in similar terms, leading to disagreements with current policies; underlying Keynesian economics; visual representation; [1:05:15] featured in PEP booklet written by Len Tivey, along with LEO computer. [1:06:57] Remarks on Bill Phillips: knew socially at LSE; FL's wife's first tutor; subsequent career in Australia; escaped from Japanese in war; combined engineering with economics. Remarks on: limitations of economists’ understanding of society; giving up on traditional models of economics; early reservations on traditional models of economics, exemplified by undergraduate project on an unconventional and unaccepted Romanian economist's view of protectionism [1:15:25] Comments on not connecting LEO with Phillips Machine; [1:16:30] first learning about LEO and being selected for a course; 'LEO Chronicle' diary of events; meeting MC later; RL's position in a different department. [1:19:14] Remarks on: reasons for working for Lyons, but also approaching other Jewish headed companies, such as Marks and Spencer; complications of being 'not quite British'; O and M, Organisation and Methods, department and its different status in Lyons than other companies.

  • Description

    Interview with computer programmer and information systems theorist Frank Land.

  • Related transcripts

    Frank Land interviewed by Tom Lean: full transcript of the interview

  • Related links

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

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