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Tom Carrington: the real story of II/11

Tom Carrington, LEOII at Ford Dagenham.

Once more I have just looked up the LEO site and, as usual, got slightly irritated by the inaccurate designation of II/11. "Payroll" indeed! After the success of E1, the Ford payroll and the equal success of II/4 at Parts Division, the proponents of a LEO to carry out other administrative work were tasked with defining the next most obviously profitable area in which to continue. According to my then boss Ernie Renals, his boss, Alf Bradley, was told by the Managing Director, Charley Thacker, without alternatives that the next LEO was to be harnessed to the needs of Production Control. I was somewhat junior at the time, just out of "trainee programmer", but from my limited perspective, this, and the specific target of processing forward production plans so as to create part by part requirements lists were the manifest destiny of the next LEO. Although the Ford payroll, designed initially as E1 and run originally on LEOI, was upgraded and run on II/11 at Dagenham it was, in fact, a sideshow, however practical and profitable it may have been.

In 1960, this was serendipitously supported from the USA by a production control specialist/consultant, Ed Evans, whose perception was that there was a need for a bridge between the engineering view of nested assemblies of individual parts and the sales view of cars/models/accessories and options. At the level below the model, he then introduced the concept of the "Package" which defined the detailed requirements of the specific differences in parts required to build a car with whatever appropriate changes were made from the unadorned standard model. Bear in mind that this introduced a totally new concept of removing those items which were used in the standard but not in the upgrade or variant. (Many years later I spent time in Leyland Vehicles where the engineers had, by then, developed a virtually identical concept of the "virtual assembly".)

So what happened about all of this. Mr Evans wanted a parts breakdown based on a revised production plan to be specified in packages and he was high enough up the ladder to talk to the highest in the company. Clearly we needed a solution. So one night, after a day at the office, I carried Colin Baker who was working with us at that time, off to the pub in Dagenham village, probably the Three Kings, where we consumed a few pints and designed the automotive industry's first ever MRP system. I cannot claim that it was the first-ever MRP as LEO themselves already had a somewhat smaller system for Smith's Instruments in action but I have never found a reference to a similar but earlier system. A side issue was that my boss actually agreed to let me have the cost of the drinks on entertainment, a cost-effective decision! A further ramification was when I turned it over to Bob Vaughan and he and Dick Woodward did some further arithmetic which showed that the planned 8192 word store was undersized for the task leading to a change up to 12288 which went through with amazing ease. So, in a nutshell, that is the real story of II/11. 

Date : Unknown

This exhibit has a reference ID of CH58320. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.

Tom Carrington: the real story of II/11

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