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Chris Metcalfe: Reminiscence
I fell out of secondary school at 16 in the late 1960s after failing most of my GCEs and joined the Civil Service in central London filing bits of paper as a temporary clerical officer. After failing to join ICL my father thankfully suggested I get a transfer (without interview!) to the Census Office computer section at Eastcote London. On arrival I was told I was a week early but as soon as I was introduced to the work I knew I was in the right work area which lasted 25 years! As a computer operator on the LEO 3/10 I started as peripheral loader (magnetic tapes, paper tape, printers) and when I got my Executive Officer grade I was in charge of running the computer. We had very sociable evening overtime sessions playing bridge whilst long computer programs ran. Typically four hour magnetic tape sorts with no restarts! I recall the water cooling system barely coped in the hot weather. I made my mark during a payroll run when a printer cheque number sequence problem occurred, by altering the tape block count in binary using the oscilloscope.
I later moved to the ICL 1904? computer on the same site and then transferred to the new Fujitsu? 1905E and George 3 at Newport South Wales. On promotion to Higher Executive Officer (only 1 in 5 applicants were successful I recall!) I headed the Operations Systems Support section. I wrote a world first macro to allow files to be deleted from an on screen list. 24 levels of nested IFs! Later moved on program system support and programming and EU & UK project work. Not too bad a career for someone who had few recognisable qualifications or had ever passed an aptitude test! I did get my AMBCS and still working!Date : April 2022
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