Post Office MATS (Mechanical Accounting & Trunk Sorting) Units - and the need for mechanised accounting by Don Adams.
Date : January 2013
The main article is in PDF format - see the link below
I joined ICT from the RAF in the same year as the merger(1959) between Powers-Samas and the British Tabulating Machine Company.
Having been recruited to "service electronic machines in the Oxford Area" I most most surprised to find that I was going to be involved with all the other mechanical equipment. But the good pay offered, £10 per week to start, rising to £14 .10s after a year subject to being considered competent induced me to stay. I undertook a basic course at Croydon which covered the Hand Punch, the Automatic Key Punch (AKP), the Auto Verifier, and the Sorter. This was followed by two weeks with an engineer testing a High Speed Summariser. That was the only training I had on what was supposed to be my speciality.
During the two years working at the Post Office MATS Unit as described in my website and from the link below, I attended a two week ad hoc Electronic Multiplier(EMP) course. Originally the proper course had been of 15 weeks duration. So I ended up without knowing too much about it. After a year I went to Stevenage for a forty column 558 (Ferrite Core Computer) course. Held in a small satellite premises our mid day lunch was provided in the form of frozen whole meals, thawed by unseen on site microwave ovens - state-of -the-art technology for those days. I had one 558 to look after at the SEB at Newbury which was used for calculating electricity bills.
My next course was a ten week one at the most excellent the ICT Training School at Letchworth on the 1004, a Univac machine really. At about that time I also had the full course at Letchworth on the 542/550 slotted hole 80 column calculators.
In the mid sixties I was sent to Letchworth for a 22 week course on the
1902/3 computers. This involved 8 weeks on the computer proper followed by training on paper tape reader, card reader, barrel printer and tape decks. All these were completely new technology to me.
After being the engineer for the Oxford CIty Council I moved to BMC Service at Cowley. They had a 1904 computer which had 6 X 8Mb exchangeable disc drives so more courses were required . The computer was used to drive a world wide Morris/Austin cars spares service. The
1904 was replaced with a 1904A which was a very fine machine indeed.
BMC Service evolved into Unipart and they continued to use ICL computers from the ICL New Range. However high level management decreed that for compatibility reasons a change to IBM equipment was necessary, although in actual fact in wasn't. IBM quoted £5 million to accomplish the replacement but I was reliably informed years later by a Unipart computer person that the change eventually cost £15 million. IBM were always reckoned to have very good salesmen!
The full article can be seen HERE and is taken from a comprehensive web site at http://www.ventnorradar.plus.com/MATS1.htm
By Don Adams 2013
This exhibit has a reference ID of CH28254. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.
Click on the Images For Detail