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Emil Gottwald: Reminisence

I joined LEO Computers in 1964 after graduating from Queen Mary College in London with a degree in physics. It was right in the middle of the boom in semiconductors, and even though I had specialised in solid state physics the prospect of working with semiconductors did not appeal to me, so I interviewed with LEO Computers and accepted their job offer.

I was part of a small group [I think there were 6 or 7 of us] working on "special projects" for JW [whose nickname BTW was 'Fred']. We had a small lab which housed a "research" computer consisting of components mounted on pegboard hung on the wall, and fed by paper tape. We worked on a variety of projects ranging from voice recognition [prompted by IBM's 'Shoebox' voice recognition device], to thermal printing and performance analysis. This was during the time of the LEO III/F, and we built a prototype performance analyzer for it consisting of a bunch of photocells mounted on the control panel, driving a paper tape punch to record which cells had detected a control panel light. It was a Rube Goldberg affair using rubber doorstops for the photocell mounts [the screw holes were used to fit over the console display lights at one end, and to house the photocells at the other - cheap and effective].

Don't know how that turned out as I left for the States around then. I remember JW blowing his top when he found out I was leaving, calling me into his office and reaming me out for not giving more notice. A more pleasant memory of JW has to do with his mantra to keep things simple. He once asked me to name a simple, reliable mechanism and I said "A car engine'. His reply was "How about a matchbox?" My time at Minerva Road is one of my fondest memories - I still have my CLEO and KDF9 Algol User Manuals and I seem to remember an AutoCoder manual lying around somewhere though I don't remember if that was from my LEO days or from college.

Date : Unknown

Creator : LEO

This exhibit has a reference ID of CH53403. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.

Emil Gottwald: Reminisence

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