Oral history of British science

Land, Frank (9 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 9: Comments on marriage in 1953, background to relationship at LSE, story about getting together at a ball, pressure from parents to marry as they were living together. Remarks on in-laws: getting on well after initial reservations, early deaths from cancer. [04:54] Description of first home: Georgian artisan's house, originally owned by EF; assorted lodgers and student parties; in Leytonstone, from where cows would occasionally block roads. [09:40] Comments on: heavy workload when he began at LEO; career prospects; suspected case of tuberculosis, actually sarcoidosis, and treatment; birth of daughter Frances, now a solicitor in Bristol; move to a grand house in Woodford; low salaries at LEO, compensated for by special nature of work. [15:38] Comments on merger with EE: disappointment at Lyons sell out; despising EE personnel; TRT's lower status compared to EE's less intellectual Wilf Scot; TRT's transfer to Shell, who couldn't accept his modernising ideas [closed between 18:21 – 18:41] FL's dissatisfaction with EE-LEO-Marconi, worsening after they refused to give him leave to join EF on sabbatical; [20:23] surprise at merger. [21:00] Remarks on Salmon and Gluckstein family members as managers: Anthony Salmon, quite good; RL's boss Felix Salmon quite bad; family indulgences and lack of loyalty to LEO team by selling out; Lyon's business problems that led to sale. [24:39] Remarks on: FL position at EE-LEO, responsible for all applications within company, but more a figurehead; KDF9 computer innovations in use of a stack and Whetstone ALGOL compiler; primitive nature of EE systems, based on Deuce and often still using machine code, compared to LEO work; limited utility of KDF6 business computer compared to LEO; accumulation of grievances with EE-LEO and FL reflection of CEIR job offer. [31:00] Comments on transfer to LSE: limited computer service under Gordon Foster; NCC grants for systems analysis research; FL recruitment to LSE job; dual role of computer service manager and management research fellow; need to reflect and pass on experience in systems work from LEO; [36:05] feelings on leaving industry, on the verge of further mergers, and affection for LSE [37:08]; early work at LSE: differences in his outlook from existing work by Mike Garside; RL's management of LEO computer service. [38:42] Comments on duties of LEO regional offices: clients Smith and Nephew - Birmingham, Renold Chains - Manchester, Colvilles - Glasgow; typical layout of LEO offices; Birmingham manager who became privacy commissioner; FL travelling between offices by car, rail or first class air. [42:01] Comments on managerial culture: company cars, wearing a suit to work, styles of address to superiors and inferiors, managerial toilets; story about Anthony Salmon hosting of a dinner to compete for an airline contract; [46:39] entertainment of important clients, importance learned from IBM; use of Lyon's establishments for catering from clients; [48:05] formal corporate dinners at Renold Chains; ICI's lavish hospitality befitting their status, with reference to current anger at BP; use of catering to impress; position of dinners in decision making process and for building working relationships. [53:38] Comparison of relationships with Ian Jackson at Renold Chains and Hargreaves of Smith and Nephew. Comments on life outside work: bringing up family; fitting around work and family life; playing bridge with LEO and LSE people; children Frances, Richard and Margy; limited interaction with EL over work and comparison of skills and career with FL. Remarks on FL becoming head of statistics department and its organisation. [1:00:51] Comments on British industry attitudes toward computers: reluctance of many companies[closed between 01:02:54 – 01:03:31] fates of British firms that didn't computerise, such as ICI. [1:04:51] Comments on his dissatisfaction with British computer industry: resources, innovation, cooperation; demise of ICL, feelings of betrayal after merger of LEO and management of ICL [closed between 01:08:31 – 01:09:46] feeling that LEO was something special; JP's side-lining. [1:10:57] Description of JP: great engineer, particular skill in use of innovation, modest, wife Helen. [1:13:35] Remarks on poor government support for computer industry, innovation at Post Office under Murray Laver.

  • 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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