Spring 1975 ... as seen by Computer Weekly

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40 Years Ago ... from the pages of Computer Weekly

compiled by TNMOC Volunteer Archivist, Brian Aldous

A selection of stories from Computer Weekly in Spring 1975.The full archive of Computer Weekly can be seen at TNMOC, where there are special rolling displays of front pages from 25 and 40 years ago. This article appears in the latest issue of Resurrection, the newsletter of the Computer Conservation Society.

Data transmission – a new role for the TV The concept of using the domestic television receiver as a medium for displaying text, and ultimately as a full-blown computer terminal, has been given an enormous boost with the announcement by Texas Instruments of its Tifax decoder for Teletext transmissions. (CW 447 p23)

First supermarket PoS systems in UK The first supermarket point-of-sale checkout systems in the UK have been ordered for installation at two hypermarkets set up by local retail co-operative societies in Lancashire. Both installations are to be based on NCR 255 systems. (CW 441 p40)

Used 2903 put on the market What could well be the world’s first ICL 2903 to be offered onthe second-hand market is now available from Computer Resale Brokers. The same company has also enabled a major upgrade for the IBM 370/155 belonging to J Lyons and Co in London. A flurry of activity is reported too at another used machine specialist, Promodata. (CW 447 p1)

ICL wins £4.5m deals for 2960s, 2970s Two orders worth nearly £4.5 million for large 2900 systems are among the latest deals being finalised by ICL. One order, a dual mainframe configuration for the Sainsbury supermarket chain, is for the 2960 which is due for launching in the autumn. The other contract, due to be signed next month, is for three large 2970 configurations for Brandon Applied Systems, which the San Francisco-based consultancy is planning to use to establish a UK conversion service for existing ICL users. (CW 443 p1) (Footnote: Only one of these machines seems to have been delivered in the end. Sainsburys received a large dual 2970 but Brandon met with little success in the UK. Their proposed partner, BOC Datasolve did acquire one 2970 but didn’t keep it very long. It ended up as half of a dual 2970 at H.J Heinz in Hayes.)

OCR data capture for £1,300 A complete OCR data capture system for as little as £1,300, something which would have been thought a ridiculous impossibility at one time, is now available and offered to a wide range of potential users by Senosa Ltd, which has successfully interfaced its Directdata 16 terminal with the Recognition Equipment hand held OCR wand. (CW 442 p40)

Weather project bid by ICL In a bid to capture the prestigious order for the massive system planned for the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts, at Shinfield Park, Reading, ICL is expected to propose a version of its Distributed Array Processor. (CW 447 p1)

Eclipse bid for business market In a bid to win a share of the growing market for commercial minicomputer systems, Data General has introduced the Eclipse C/300 series, designed for on-line database inquiry operations in such application areas as production control, distribution, maintenance services and the processing of insurance claims. (CW 435 p1)

First from Prime Transaction processing for small businesses is the aim of a new system from Prime Computer. Called First, it is based on the Prime 300 virtual memory minicomputer and can serve up to 30 terminals. (CW 435 p1)

NatWest plans new London centre One of the largest computer and clearing centres in London is planned for the NatWest Bank on a five-acre site in Whitechapel. (CW 435 p7)

IBM unveils 168’s hidden feature The presence of advanced I/O reconfiguration hardware in already-delivered multiprocessor 370/168s was disclosed when IBM in the US announced software extensions to make use of these facilities. (CW 435 p9)

Fairchild high density memory Claimed to represent a “significant advance in the density of solid-state memory”, a charge-coupled memory is to be put into large-scale production by Fairchild Camera and Instrument Corp in the US by autumn this year. (CW 435 p9)

EMI order Honeywell time sharing system Expenditure on bureau time sharing services by EMI has increased to such an extent that the company has decided to install its own time-sharing system, built around a Honeywell 66/10 worth £504,000. (CW 436 p1)

Meteostat bid from SPL An eleventh hour bid has been made by SPL International to get a share of the action in what may well prove to be one of the largest software development contracts ever awarded in Europe. (CW 436 p1)

Hardware/software boost for the 1100s A bumper package of hardware and software enhancements to the 1100 medium-to-large scale computer series has been launched by Univac. It includes two new processors, the 1100/20 and the 1100/40, both using all-semiconductor main memory and claimed to have up to twice the size and speed of the core memory 1106 and 1110 machines. (CW 437 p1)

Locus 16s for radar check A system for evaluating the operation of plot extractors at radar stations has been developed by Marconi, using modules from its Locus 16 system. (CW 437 p3)

DEC in bid for OEM market in Europe Following the setting up of a Components Group at Marlborough, Massachusetts, last summer, which was designed to compete directly for large volume OEM and end user peripherals business in the US, DEC has announced a similar operation in the UK and Europe. (CW 438 p32)

GEC upgrades 2050 capacity Directly addressable core capacities for data storage for GEC 2050 machines have now been upgraded from 64K to 192K bytes. (CW 439 p1)

EMI-Scanner system for whole body Following the worldwide success of the EMI-Scanner brain X-ray system, which has a current sales level of £25 million per annum, EMI is now to develop another computerised X-ray system for whole-body examination. (CW 439 p7)

‘Mid-life kicker’ for IBM 370 models In a move bound to provoke further speculation about the timing of a replacement for System 370, IBM has given the two big commercial machines in the range, the 158 and the 168, a “mid-life kicker’. (CW 440 p3)

GEC-Elliott system for Nairobi airport A complete public information system for Nairobi airport has been ordered by the Kenyan Government from GEC-Elliott Process Automation. The system, to be based on a GEC 2050 computer, will include traffic signs, GEC’s Infolux passenger flight information, a public address system and a network of VDUs. (CW 440 p23)

First UK orders for System 32 Two rapidly expanding small systems facilities management companies, Wellorax of East Molesey and Small Computer Implementation of Kings Lynn, are the first UK firms to order the IBM Sys/32 announced in London on Tuesday. (CW 440 p48)

SPL to design German network A challenging contract to help in the establishment of a packet-switched communication network for the state administration of the North-Rhine Westphalia province of West Germany, has been awarded to SPL GmbH, the German subsidiary of the British SPL International systems house. (CW 441 p1)

Ford’s first Univac The first Univac system ordered for the IBM-oriented Ford Motor Co is to be installed at the UK head offices in Warley, Essex, in May. Valued at £200.000, the 90/30 system with 128K main memory will be linked to two IBM 370/158s for testing of communications and developing applications packages. (CW 441 p40)

Trend wins £100,000 RAF job Telex and telegraph circuits operated by the Royal Air Force are to be evaluated with units supplied by Trend Communications of High Wycombe, Bucks, under a £100,000 contract placed by the Ministry of Defence. (CW 442 p1)

Laser aids star probe A photographic measuring system comprising a laser beam scanner linked to three computers is being developed at Cambridge Institute of Astronomy in aid of the analysis of photographs of stars and galaxies taken by telescopes. (CW 444 p56)

Maps contract awarded to PMA by OS Following its feasibility study of the market for large scale maps in digital form, PMA Consultants has been awarded a £54,000 contract by the Ordnance Survey to design a software system enabling small sections of maps to be selected for printing. (CW 445 p10)

Travel ticket system for UK The new Datasaab back-office system for handling accounts and ticketing for travel agents and tour operators, announced at the Hanover Fair, is now available in the UK. (CW 446 p1)

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