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Eric's brief history
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Date

Domestic

Dance, music & song

Computer
related

1937

12 March: Born at 20 Third Avenue, Torquay, third son of Amy & Ray. Was to be called "Jane".

 

1940

4th November: Move to Yarborough Road, Lincoln

Memories of brass band passing the back of the house. I could hear them but couldn't see them! I cried.

 

1941

3rd September: Move to cottages near Toft, Lincs. They were declared unfit for habitation when we left, and demolished.

 

1942

19th November: Move to Northorpe, Lincs.
Started at Thurlby Primary School. When I was forced to stay at home because of eczema/asthma I secretly cycled to school, didn't want to miss it!

Memories of Sam Knipe (80 year old neighbour) playing concertina and Dad on piano. Sam said "Your dad is the only one that can accord with me!" That's because Dad knew that his concertina could only play G and D7!

 

1946

12th June: Move to Beauchamp Road, Twickenham.
Move to Archdeacon Cambridge C of E Primary School. Dad was deputy head.

 

1948

Scholarship to Christ's Hospital refused for socialist reasons.
Started at Thames Valley Grammar School.

 

1949

7th January: Move to Albemarle Avenue, Twickenham.

Went to Mum's folk dance club, given accordion and asked to play. It took me a year, I still crashed out occasionally. My maths teacher Mr Blandford played accordion for the school folk dancing, I observed his left hand and tried to copy it.

I had my own shed, and bought lots of ex-defence bits of electronics to play with. Radar kit (makes a TV), navigation systems (analogue computers), motors. Unlike transistors, it was mostly high voltage valves and stuff.

1953

GCE O levels.

More playing at Mum's club. People like Patrick Shuldham-Shaw and Lesley Nichols visited. I was able to sit in with visiting bands, Nan Fleming-Williams, Don McBain, .... Joan Somebody and Elsie Avril played accordion and orcan flute at EFDSS gigs.
Danced and played with Thames Valley Morris, looked after by their squire Dr Christopher Penton (chief psycologist to the War Department), who took me to see traditional players like Jinky Wells (Bampton) and William Kimber (Headington). He made me play in front of William Kimber who told me to "make it snappy". Chris also told me when I said "This way sounds better, why don't other people do it?" he said "Because they didn't think of it. You play it the way you think best."

Made a noughts and crosses game playing machine for the school fete. And then a Nim machine.

1955

June/July: GCE A and S levels: good.
November/December: Various Oxbridge scholarships failed!

 

1956


September: Started at Nottingham University.

Early September: With Thames Valley Morris to Ring Meeting at Abingdon. Foresters Morris were admitted to the Ring. I asked to join them.
First week at Folk Dance Society (with my accordion) met Joy (who wanted an accordionist)! And her mum was a good cook, and the home was "open house" to visitors and friends.

January-June: Worked at Paint Research Station, 8 Waldegrave Road, Teddington. Great fun, given a variety of jobs to do! "Plot the speed of sound in a film of paint against temperature", played with home made electron m,icroscope.
September at Nottingham. Second week asked by Maths dept to make some electronic models for Alan Rose's logic course. They arranged for me to study the electronics degree too (I took two full degree courses at the same time).

1957

February: Brother Owen died. Summer holiday at Helensburgh with Mum and Dad, I popped over to Edinburgh to see Joy. The Christmas afterwards was desperately sad.

Ukrainian cossak show at the Bristol Inter-University folk dance gathering.
I was president of Nottingham Folk Dance Society from 1957 to 1959 and organised the inter-university gathering at Nottingham in spring 1958. The band was lead by Kay Grahamn (fiddle), looked at me at one point and said "Who's leading this band?"

Joy and I went to various EFDSS courses and events. Met Bert Lloyd et al.

I did an apprenticeship at Erricssons Telephones Beeston, learning uniselector relay technology, then constructing a drum storage device for digital phone exchanges. I used ferrite mixed with araldite to coat the drum, bad idea, it ruined the heads if you screwed them in too far.

1959

5th July: Graduated and got engaged to Joy, Eric-- "Will you marry me?". Joy-- "I'll think about it."

1959 Inter University gathering at Glasgow, I advised Jimmy Shand on tunes, and joined in with Jim McLeod's band, much livelier!

Started PhD to design, construct and use a computer to do logic (funded by British Railways hoping for the logic of points/signals interlocking to be automated). One year to construct, one year using it, 6 months writing it up.
I was appointed to the Maths staff as a "Tutorial Assistant" in my second year, giving me 2 unexpected extra years of pensionable service.

1960

Accidentally put on University payroll for helping out in calculating machine laboratories. It gave me two more years worth of pension.

Freds Folks first broadcast, leader Kevin, members me, Kath (drums, worked in Portland Building catering), with extras Stuart Woodhouse (bass) and Sam (guitar, Lincoln).
Regular broadcasts thereafter, all with Ken Clarke as MC. Guests included Tollerton Plough Play men (needed beer to get them talking, then they wouldn't stop), Rosemary Redpath, Isla Cameron, Steve Benbow ...
University Christian Socienty invited people like Sidney Carter, who came round to our house. "Change the songs any way you want, make it yours."

 

1961

Summer: Attended EFDSS course at Barford, met McDouall parents.

 

1962

1st May: Angus expected.
5th May : Angus started coming, but things slowed down, so Joy to hospital. I followed and slept in the nurses' home, and called back just before midnight.
6th May: Angus came 2am. I went back and immediately woke up Joy's parents and phoned mine!
July: PhD graduation.

 

Awarded PhD. In the viva the external asked a difficult question, "What would your computer do if ...?". The chairman saw my hesitation and immediately said "I'd have a nervous breakdown if I were you, what's the next question?". I was eternally grateful. Once the PhD was safely obtained I published a paper saying that special computers to do logic were a waste of time, you could do it on an ordinary computer.

1963

Chris McDouall came to Nottingham as a student, stayed with us, did a child study on Angus.

 

1964

27th January: Rory born at home.

Eric involved with the Manchester "Atlas" computer, many trips away e.g. to a course in London University who also had an Atlas, and to Manchester with Pitteway of our Computing Centre) and talks given at Nottingham.
Stripped out unwanted computers at Boots on Station Street. Gave away the bits. Then Boots found it was rented not owned. Oh dear!

1965

24th July: Hamish born. Bang goes any plan for two kids, then a gap, then two more. Three's enough!

 

1967

Busy year!

March - May: Whole family in Vienna while Eric worked at Institute for Advanced Studies.
May to June: Eric took Angus to school at Dunkirk, lunched with him, and took him home afterwards.
June 30th: Moved to Greenfield Street, bought for £3500 from Clare's family.
July 1st: Started director's job.

March: Appointed Director of University Computing Centre.
Professor at IAS Vienna.

1968

On one trip visited aged Auntie Grace (age 80+) in Detroit (she walked me off my feet), and relatives in Toronto.

First of a number of trips to USA, to see Internet prototype etc., called the ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency, part of the USA DoD), NASA etc.

 

1971

 

While I was playing for a children's dance show at Wollaton Park (MC Ken Clark) a stall-holder said "Can I bring my bass and play with you tomorrow?". It was Geoff Bocking, who then joined Freds band. I joined his singing group "Lazybones", in which I played bass.
? Kids started playing instruments.

 

1975


Took up pottery!

Departed Cripps Computing Centre.
Back to ordinary maths lecturer.
Worked in Tanzania for 3 months, first trip outside western culture. Also Sudan (I was called out to Sudan to solve Elliott 803 problems in Khartoum University, the problem turned out to be white ants in the processor) and Egypt (and 1979 and 1981 and 1991).

1983

March: Tour of US universities including Oklahoma as "Guest Honor Lecturer" talking on computers and music.
June: Visit Oil companies in Tulsa regarding computer performance simulation.
July: Taught Summer School at Victoria, Vancouver Island, Canada.

1985   My book "Unix for SuperUsers" was in the top 10 in California for a while.

1988

 

First of many trips to China.

1995

Caught boat to small island off Hong Kong. Found a morris team with no musician but a spare accordion!

 

Later

Many trips to Malaysia, Singapore, China, India

The other history page is here. This copy edited Tuesday 10-Oct-2017

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