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Anatol (Tony) Zak
Anatol (Tony) Zak
Born on a beautiful farm in Poland 3rd July 1934 Anatol (Tony) Zak became one of the many Polish people to be forcibly evicted from their land. Poland was invaded by the German Army, swiftly followed by a Russian led ‘Liberation’ which devastated the country. Anatol, with thousands of others, made the terrible journey called ‘The Long March’ from Poland, through Siberia and Russia then into the Middle East, India and eventually to England.
Surrounded by brutality and death, starvation and terrible sickness, he somehow survived and, relying on his own dogged determination and natural intelligence, he propelled himself into his new land and a wonderful career.
Married in 1960 to Mary, Tony worked in the telephone exchange wiring up substations and then worked for Solatron achieving his HNC and working his way up and where he worked on the first oscilloscope that had a memory component. Moving to BISRA in Battersea where he learned about computer testing and settled with his own house and his first son, Peter.
He applied to English Electric to work on the LEO computers and started six months of training for the Leo III computer. He fondly remembered the final exam, fault finding using the logs and logic diagrams. It took him about ten minutes to find the fault and he left the room top of the class.
His second son, David was born in 1967 and shortly after Tony was selected to go to Katowice, Poland where his job was to keep the machine running. They achieved the average efficiency of 99.8% and were both treated like celebrities and a political threat. He and Mary welcomed many Polish engineers into their home when they came to England for training.
Now in charge of ten sites across Central London and he was asked to take over, and improve performance at Post Office and Telephone Exchange where, after a brief walk out by staff, they got down to business and increased efficiency to 97%.
From there Tony went to Letchworth and from there to West Gorton in Manchester working nights testing production machines and running trials. Taking charge of a machine destined for British Oxygen, onto the Plessey installation and then working in Feltham for British Gas and a disaster recovery site which was the first in England.
Tony said his biggest success, being a little smug, was at AA in Basingstoke. Their machine was breaking down once, and sometimes twice, in each 24 hour period, the customer was furious. But trawling through logs, looking for patterns Tony found the culprit. The cleaners hoovering, tripped the computer. Tony fixed the hoover too!
In 1991 Tony took early retirement and spent time travelling, gardening and taking delight in his family. He died, having survived and thrived, on 2nd May 2015.