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Does David Miliband still have young ladies to punch his holes?

As English Farmers face yet another year of RPA and Defra computerised troubles I have obtained an article on their computer setup:

The ICT 1900 series were 24-bit word machines (supporting 4 6-bit characters per word) and using octal for binary short-hand, as opposed to the IBM Systems using 8-bit bytes and hex. Basic memory on the smaller machines was 16K words (or 64 kilobytes equivalent), and there were even 8K word versions sold (although most actually had 16K memory factory installed in readiness for the certain upgrade order that followed!) - early machines using 'core-store' memory (ferrite rings on a copper wire matrix) and operated on binary hand-switches on the mainframe cabinet. Despite the apparent small memory size, quite sophisticated applications were run on the equipment and computer programmers paid great attention to the efficient use (and reuse) of memory.

I/O consisted of 80 column cards as 40 column cards (with round holes) were unable to cope with the full 64 character set, a card punch and 8 track paper tape - print was from a solid barrel line printer (120 columns wide).

Disk capacity was also very limited (early units supporting 4 or 8Mb removable multi disc packs) and similar attention to ensuring the efficient use of disk space was common. Early machines used storage on reels of magnetic tape and were then augmented by direct access devices (disks) typically with disk capacities of 1.6Mb, 4Mb and 8Mb were the order of the day. By the time 30Mb packs were available they occupied a cabinet 4 feet high (MEDS - Multiple Exchangeable Disk Store).


No doubt they are still using the same setup, suitably upgraded.

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