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EMI Computing Services Division

Who else used EMIDEC?  

WHEN?    This is about EMI CSD in the late sixties.


Blyth Road, HAYES, Middlesex
Wasn't the phone number 573 3888 ?
The big building on the corner leading to
the bridge over the canal to the Blue Anchor
- many is the night I don't remember there!

The machine room was on the ground floor.
Layout was something like this...
CLICK for more detail

WHO?    CLICK to see the PEOPLE page, with a list of names and some photos

Random memory waves...

That strange thing called Data Control

Hidden in the bowels of the building behind operators and engineers. Data sheets received from the factory (mostly new pressings going into stock). Add batch control sheet and send to punch room (Mary and her serried troops) for punching. Check back in. Add "lead card" at front of punch cards. Possibly includes a "reconciliation total", usually created by manually (via comptometer) adding up the figures from the individual sheets. Pass cards to ops for running at specified schedule time (run would last several hours). Receive cards and printout back and check for any reconciliation errors. Check any transaction errors, track down the cause, and prepare correction transactions for submission with the next day's run. Distribute reports. John Wallis did stock control, and sales stuff was done by his boss Harry Shirley. [Ian Smith]

Brian Owens - the staff notice

One day, BoJO issued a staff notice - about "Completed Staff Work" - to tell us all to buck our ideas up and do things right. He included a copy of an article from some military handbook. This went down like a lead balloon. Messrs Wallace and Smith produced a spoof version (reproducing some of the many spelling mistakes!) and issued it clandestinely. [Ian Smith]
CLICK HERE to see the spoof notice.

The Blue Anchor

The Blue Anchor was just across the canal bridge from the computer building. It was run by Ernie Clack assisted by his wife Iris and her Polish brother barman, George. A lot of Scotch was drunk - mainly Teachers. Ernie disliked strangers drinking halves - "Where's your handbag" he'd say. We used to have monthly drink ups there ( known as GPUs).

I first came across toasted sandwiches there - wrapped in celaphane (however you spell it) and cooked still inside it, so that it was a hell of a job to separate toasted cheese from toasted wrapper!

The Blue Anchor was very handy as the operators would ring us there to let us know that the machine was available for testing - we used to book 30 minute slots. Eventually, Ernie had a special phone installed for use the other side of the bar by EMI computer staff! [Ian Smith and Ray Monk]

Gladys and Ethel

When we computerised the Record Stores we replaced a manual card system which was updated by two ladies called Gladys & Ethel - we named the tape files after them so they would not be forgotten! [Ray Monk]

Designing Emidec

"The logic design of the 1100 was a joint effort between Bob Froggatt and myself, assisted later by Mike Symons and another chap whose name I forget (he did a lot of work on the design of the tape system). The arithmetic carry system, multiplier, divider and, best of all, the binary-to-decimal/sterling converter were all mine. I also had my name on a patent for a system of head-switching on magnetic drums.

I joined EMI as a very new recruit in 1955, directly after leaving National Service, and I worked initially on a pilot machine, which formed the logical basis for the design of the BMC payroll computer - a valve-driven monster that consumed kilowatts of power just to light the valve filaments! Only one of these was made, because at that point Godfrey Hounsfield had joined the team and he introduced the idea of using transistors and ferrite cores in place of valves. We then had a rethink and came up with the basic design of the 1100.

I have attached a very scruffy scan of a newspaper cutting that I have kept since the early 1960s. I used the 1100 to calculate Pi to 10880 places of decimals (it took 13 hours) and this attracted a little bit of publicity at the time. Waste of time? Yes of course it was, but one does that sort of thing when one is young! I still have the print-out as produced by a badly adjusted Samastronic printer." [David Robinson]

Project names

CONEMI - Stock control
EMIART - Artist Royalties
EMIPAY - Payroll and personnel
EMIRSA - EMI Records sales
EMIWIP - Electronics work in progress
FASSET - Fixed assets
RECMER - Record Merchandisers
RECSTO - Record Stores
WRC - World Record Club