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Peter Guest: Reminiscence written by Margaret Guest

Peter Guest  b.1934, died 1995 aged 61, LEO Maintenance Engineer

Margaret Guest, Peter's widow writes: Peter’s education badly disrupted during Wartime, leaving Wm. Penn School, Peckham, London aged 16 in 1951. Attended Woolwich Polytechnic 1951-55 for part time day release, obtained ONC in civil engineering while working for Sir Murdock MacDonald & Partners as a trainee draughtsman.  Further HND studies but National Service  in RAF intervened including training in communication hardware preparing to be a wireless operator and then posted to Aden where he worked for the Commonwealth Air Forces Communications Network with the rank of Corporal. Came back and worked for Vickers Armstrong at a factory in Crayford, Kent. At the time he joined they were building a valve computer for Powers Samas, the PCC, which had an immense number of problems and not many people capable of solving them!  He left when the PCC was going to be superseded by a future design done by ICT.

Early 1960 (the year we were planning to marry) Peter was employed by LEO in London (for a very small wage for the first 6 months) while getting a good grounding in all aspects of this new invention; engineering, testing, commissioning, etc. He was sent out to maintain computers at Ford Dagenham (LEOII/4) and Ilford Films (LEO II/9) while we lived in a caravan on the outskirts of Romford. He was also training on LEO III. At the time the head office of LEO Computers was in Bayswater.

Then, about 1964, after LEO amalgamated with English Electric, we moved to the South Coast where he was sent to commission a new English Electric computer for Lloyds Bank at Durrington, Worthing, while also troubleshooting other installations in London and the South Coast.

After the merger with English Electric he spent a lot of time up in Kidsgrove on the KDF9 commissioning and troubleshooting.

Our next move was to Long Ashton, on the outskirts of Bristol where he was Assistant Service Manager. Later becoming Area Manager working on computers for Wills Tobacco and an important (I think government) installation in Dorset. Later appointed Area Manager for West London and the Western Home Counties.
In 1967, when Marconi split its computer interests from English Electric, another move to Widford, Chelmsford, to work for Marconi who were embarking on a programme to produce the Myriad I and design the Myriad II.

He was also involved in the System 430 for English Electric-LEO (the first integrated circuit design) which caused many problems because of the high reliability requirements necessary for the military and traffic control for which it was intended. He was then Manager overseeing design, production, quality control, budgets, planning and responsible for 45 employees. It was a very stressful time for him.

Then there was a period of uncertainty, with a merger of Marconi with GEC looming.

This made up his mind to move again, to MDS Data  Processing, Teeside, Durham.

Peter first joined MDS as Quality Control Manager. MDS was an international company, main plant being in Utica, north of New York State and another in Germany and he made regular visits to both locations.  After all this travelling he decided to stay more local, so worked for local companies; Redifon, Comark and MBM near Brighton, before finally freelancing as a Business Consultant working from home.

He sadly died of Cancer aged 61.

Date : 2021

This exhibit has a reference ID of CH64031. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.

Peter Guest: Reminiscence written by Margaret Guest

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