1976 - DBH1 The Web Site 2021

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I was staying in Beit Hall in the centre of London. It was a dream. 30 yards from lectures, at long last in my own room which was quiet. I worked and enjoyed myself. I liked the place so much I even came back to uni 2 weeks before the start of the summer term.

The summer of 1976 was amazingly hot. The main heating pipes ran through my room and couldn't be turned off. The window was tiny. The drains 5 floors down began to stink of fish. Having the window open meant an appalling smell. In desperation I got a long length of rubber tubing and pinned it into a sheet. I connected the rubber hosing to the cold tap and let the water run all night. It was crude but better than nothing.

The temperature in that room from mid April until the end never dropped day or night below 100 F I took the finals and went home.


On July the 1st 1976 I started work. It was a blisteringly hot day. I had taken the final final exam the previous day and I wanted a holiday. I really didn't want to just start work. However I had to obey the word of my father. I have resented that lost holiday ever since. (Eventually in 2007 when I ceased to be MD I managed to take the holiday - and it felt really, really good!)

I was going to change the world. Instead of which I was the office manager in a small electrical contractor. The noble dream I had of continuing my father's work didn't feel like such a good idea when it was time to do it. I had gone from complete freedom to living with my parents.

I had gone from an environment where you could do anything (and I do mean anything!) with no disapproval from anyone to living with my parents who were from a different time zone where everything was disapproved of.

The only aspect of my job that I enjoyed was choosing the new computer system that would run the paperwork. I looked at all sorts of amazingly large and complex computers. I chose a computer system made by HP and was about to place the order. The rep from Olivetti then announced that they would have a machine which would have twin floppy drives and speak BASIC. This was incredibly advanced for 1976 and a must buy.

I attended a training course in Hazlemere. At the end of the course one lucky delegate picked up the demo machine and took it with him. We eventually got delivery of our machine on Christmas eve at 8.00pm. David Pritchard and I invented an accounting system and wrote it over Christmas so that when people returned to work, I was able to announce that we were now computerised. The system did sales ledger, purchase ledger, petty cash, wages, nominal and job costing. It did all this on twin floppy discs with a total storage of 256K (K!) and a ram of 16K. The code was elegant and tight and written in 2 weeks!

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