Folklore Computation Department

These days there are two distinct computer organisations on Campus, the Computer Science Department, who carry out teaching and research; and Computing Services, who provide computing facilities for the entire university. Back at the dawn of computing, however, all this came under the remit of one Department. And when we start our story, it didn't even exist yet...

Nouse No. 18 Thursday, 23rd June 1966

Computation Dept.

The University's Department of Computation will be set up in October, in order to provide a computing service for the university and to carry out teaching and research in computation. Its director is to be Mr D.G. Burnett-Hall, at present at Hull University. Construction on the department's buildings will start at the beginning of August and should be complete by April 1967. The buildings will be two single-story blocks; one housing the computer and the other a lecture room and offices and they will be constructed on either side of the covered-way leading from the library to college V.

The computer, which is due to be delivered in June 1967, will be an Elliot 4130 and it will be possible to prepare programmes and data on either punch cards or on paper tape. In the meantime, use is being made of outside computers such as those at Chilton and at Imperial College, London.

College V is now Vanbrugh college, I'm not sure which of the two blocks was the one with the computer in it.

Nouse Thurs, Nov 9th 1967

Computer lies idle
Elliott take fuses

Because it has not been fully paid for yet, the suppliers of the £90000 computer delivered to the computer building during September have taken away its fuses.

Instead of mid-October as was hoped, the machine will not be fully working until four weeks before the end of term. When it would have started was ``unpredictable'' anyway, said Mr D G Burnett-Hall, Director of Computation.

Elliott-Automation Ltd. took the fuses because the machine still belonged to them, and York could not use it even with the fuses.


The government is waiting until a four-day trial-run by a branch of the Ministry of Technology before paying for the machine, and this cannot be done before mid-November. Two causes of delay are the large amount of testing necessary and the number of original faults.

Mr Burnett-Hall had no specific criticisms of Elliott. ``When you've dealt with firms before you soon become cynical about them.''

The machine's original Fortran compiler is unable to translate punch cards, a common way of giving computers information. One that will, however is expected in December.

Week's Delay

Programmes for university needs will continue to be sent with a week's delay, to Harwell, Berks, until our computer starts work, when Mr Burnett-Hall hopes to deal with each project in 12 hours. He expects, too, enough work to occupy the machine for eight hours a day, thus justifying the £3000 maintenance costs. Eventually there will be 16 hours' work daily.

More Information:

* Elliott Automation history
* Computer History on campus
* Computing Science-related history

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