For more than 35 years, I had been in a profession that perhaps was not the perfect one for me. I had worked with computer manufacturers, NCR, Sperry Univac, Texas Instruments, in a presales postsales role. This meant going into a potential customer, advising what the requirements are, recommending a solution, then creating or programming that solution, installing the computer hardware and software, training the customer, and looking after them after the installation.
I also worked for end users on their computers systems, redesigning and implementing new changes in software and hardware. Companies such as Associated Tyre Specialists (ATS), Peter Pan Playthings, The National Coal Board.
What ever needed to be done, I would do it.
It occurred to me that as I was designing the computer system, I was emulating what human being was doing. As they would write down an invoice amount in the ledger books, so I would have to do the same. I would follow a process, the strategy/s of the company’s employee, how they thought, how they processed information in their brain, how they worked.
On 15th February 1971, (is Phillip 94?), the UK went decimalised, they introduced decimalisation. Prior to this date, the UK had a very logical currency system. There were:-
Pounds, Shillings and Pence
12 Pennies equaled a Shilling
20 Shillings equaled a Pound
so there where 240 Pennies in a Pound.
The British understood the system, the same as we understand feet, inches and miles, pounds and ounces, and we drive on the correct side of the road.
In these early days of computers, there were no packages to run an application such as MS Word, Excel, Explorer, accounting, payrolls, etc. Each individual computer had its’ own programs written for it specific to the requirements, the way the individual company did things, their strategy. It was my job to do the writing of the programs. There were only a few people in the world, like me, who had the capability and knowledge.
The changeover on 15th February 1971, decimalisation, meant that each and every computer program had to be modified to:-
100 New Pence to the Pound
Not only that, but the existing values, balances held, would have to be converted :-
£1.10.6d equals £1. 52.5 New Pence
and we had to be correct, any errors could bring a company down, finish them.
My fellow programmers at the computer manufacturer NCR, worked like Trojans, 48 hours a day.
At midnight of Saturday the 14th February, the converstion programs were run, and companies tested and ran their new programs.
All Sunday, we stood by our telephones, waiting for calls asking for help. But, nothing. We had done it.