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This article was contributed by Tony Fairhead.

 

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This SUSIE was used by a group of three companies owned by a public company all of which worked in the garment trade off Oxford Street, London. It prepared the wages calculations for the employees of three factories in the East End and produced sales invoices, and updated stock records, for the three companies which produced garments for Marks and Spencer, Freemans and Littlewoods as well as for the 'madam' shops around the country.

 

In due course this machine was superseded by a BCL Molecular 18 and SUSIE became surplus to requirements. I, as chief accountant, learned that due to the companies' lack of sufficient profitability and as the companies had a financial director and a financial controller I was next to become surplus to requirements.

 

I joined Trust Houses Forte Travel Division in 1975 and shortly after had a call from the financial controller of my previous employer who told me that although efforts had been made to find a buyer for the SUSIE none had been found, but that the office where it was kept had been sublet and as I had expressed a wish to have SUSIE I could come and collect it within the next week only.

 

I arranged for SUSIE to be allowed to stay on the floor below for another week and having got the key to the offices dragged the machine out of the offices onto the landing and inched the machine down the two flights of stairs. I had visions of the machine careering downstairs out of control so I decided that control would be better if I was in front of the machine, a more risky position. My imagination ran riot. However seemingly no damage was done to the stairs or SUSIE.

 

The following weekend an ex-army boxing friend of mine provided the muscle and helped transport the machine to deepest Essex. I was now one of the few proud possessors of one's own computer but without a clue as to what to do with it. I mentioned this acquisition to my immediate boss at THE Travel Division who had been the financial controller of the Airport Catering Services division of THF, which produced the inflight meals at Heathrow. He told me that ACS used multi-SUSIEs and that ACS had its own programmer. So a few days later I spent an afternoon in an office beside the main runway trying to hear above the noise and take in the very quick instruction in octal programming.

 

I learned I'd need a shuffle board to keep tabs on the arithmetic registers etc. I went away with a rudimentary knowledge but eventually I realised with my marriage on the rocks it was unlikely that SUSIE would play a large part in my business life, but I was wrong. When I eventually wrote a program, which did very little, I had to debug it using the one step facility. This gave me a thorough insight into the simple step by simple step approach to programming, and anything to do with systems. I put this into practice at my next employment where I reverse engineered some of the program design and assisted in the replacement of out of date software with up to date versions developed in house.

 

SUSIE turned out to me to be a very valuable acquisition and I have been troubled for years with he thought that she would have to be scrapped. Instead I am very happy to donate her to what is obviously a very good home. – The Centre For Computing History

 

Tony Fairhead

Date : 27th July 2010

This exhibit has a reference ID of CH9549. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.
 

Memories - BCL SUSIE MARK 2

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