I became friendly with Vivian Kelly (with whom I was in touch over the years but who sadly died in 2003) and recall Michael LeGoode and Ian, though like you I cannot recall his surname. I do recall that he had a motorcycle and sidecar and we often travelled together to Marconi House to use our carefully allotted slots to do our programme testing. As you have already documented Luton did not get its own machine until 1958.

I recall the names Phyllis and Joan as operators. The room where we programmers sat was adjacent to the computer room (Vivian Kelly had the desk facing me) separated only by a glass window through which we used to ogle these two pretty young girls. And yes, we knew that something was going on between Joan and Peter, the Maintenance Engineer.

Those were the days when the tea break was actually that. The 'Tea Lady' trundled her trolley down the corridor morning and afternoon dispensing strongly brewed tea and a selection of sandwiches and cakes.

I became known as the 'Music Man' for the following reason. Someone (I have no idea who) had written a programme that when running would cause a tune to play through the machine's in-built speakers. I disassembled the programme to see how it produced the various tones. I then rewrote it such that it responded to the 32 switches on the control panel as if they were the keys on a piano. Each adjacent switch, when held down, would cause the next higher semitone to sound as you went from left to right and played that tone for as long as the switch was held down. By this means it was possible for a "virtuoso" to play whatever they wished.

I said above that I took leave of absence in August 1959. This was to enable me to join my brother in the USA who was about to embark on a tour around the United States by car and invited me to join him and his wife on that venture. The idea was to stay about a year and then return. However I decided to stay longer and, by letter, offered my resignation from English Electric. In her reply Winifred Hackett said that she was sorry that they had lost their 'Music Man'.

I have another recollection that you may find amusing. One way of correcting bugs in the programme was to insert the tiny chips that were created by the card punches back into the rectangular holes in the card. A prudent programmer would then use the card copier to create a good version of that card. Not everyone was as prudent and some would simply live with a deck containing many inserted chips. The apocryphal story goes that one day someone picked up a colleague's deck and idly flicked through the edge of the deck. Needless to say, there then ensued a "snow storm" as the chips fell to the floor.

To complete my mini-autobiography I worked as a programmer for Univac (SS90) and then the Bendix Corporation (G-15 and G-20) in New York and then returned to the UK in April 1963. I joined IBM in London as a Systems Engineer and remained with them until I retired in October 1992. Among numerous projects, I spent many years working on IPARS (International Programmed Airline Reservation System) writing code in Basic Assembler, ending my career as an instructor in the Education Department.

I have lived in London since 1963 and to this day cannot pass Marconi House without recalling, with nostalgia, those days working in Luton with one of the earliest of commercial computers.

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