The Old Pocklingtonian Old Pocklingtonian 2017-18 - Page 17

ARCHIVES COMPUTER DESIGNER DIGBY WORTHY (33-41) The OP office was recently contacted by Steven Kay, the curator of a large early transistor computer, which is held in the collection of The National Museum of Computing (TNMoC) at Bletchley Park, Milton Keynes. The computer is the Marconi Transistorised Automatic Computer (TAC) designed by a gentleman called Digby Worthy at the Marconi R&D Department at Great Baddow, near Chelmsford, Essex between 1959 and 1960. Steven wanted to know if this was the same Digby Worthy in an article he read, who, as a 15-year-old pupil at Pocklington School, designed and built a Differential Analyser (an early form of mechanical analogue computer) from Meccano in around 1939. From what we can gather they are indeed the same person! Looking back through the archives, we discovered that the Meccano Differential Analyser model that Digby built at school was exhibited by the English Electric Company. In reports, it is hailed as being remarkable for its simplicity with a system of belts and pulleys allowing the system to be constructed with only a handful of parts. Digby’s Marconi TAC as it is known, is a second- generation computer based on germanium alloy junction transistor technology. It was designed in 1959-1960 in response to a requirement for a computer to be used for real-time processing of RADAR information for an early warning system for the Swedish government. Later, two more were made for use at the Nuclear Power Station at Wylfa in North Wales running non-stop from 1968 to 2004. As far as we know, only five of this type of computer were ever produced and only the two from Wylfa survive. One is in TNMoC and the other is in the Jim Austin private computer collection near York. The one at TNMoC still works so Digby’s design has stood the test of time! As well as designing computers, it seems Digby was quite a character. According to legend, while he was a student, he found that introducing a little condensed milk into the inner tubes of his bicycle tyres meant that they would be self-healing in the case of a puncture! ARCHIVE ARTEFACTS 1. TAC in situ at Wylfa circa 1970. (Sources: The Meccano Set Computers: A history of differential analyzers made from children’s toys, Robinson T., IEEE Control Systems Magazine, June 2005; The Marconi Transistorised Automatic Computer (“TAC”). Kay S., TNMoC, photo: TNMoC 3. 2. 1. This looks like the base of a trophy, but what was it awarded for? Do you know anything about it? 2. Does anyone recognise this banner? Do you know anything about it and how the school came to have it? 3. Does anyone know anything about this blazer? Is it a school blazer or an OP blazer and what was it for? PHOTO MYSTERIES REVEALED FOL LOW US on twi tte r KEEP UP TO DATE ON ALL THE LATEST NEWS AND INFORMATION @PocklingtonOPs have we got your email? DON’T GET LEFT OUT. SEND US YOUR EMAIL TO RECEIVE THE LATEST OP NEWS! Here is the information we have come up with for last year’s ‘Down Memory Lane’ photos. The pupil in the school uniform pictured with the cricket team in photo 1 is the current OP President, Trevor Loten (70-80)! There were no responses for photo 2 unfortunately. For photo 3, we are pretty sure this is the 1975-76 under 12 B team. Thanks to Steve Baker and Jonathan Loney for their help with names as follows: Back row (L-R): Tim Baier, Paul Reaston, Michael Wardle, J.Smith?, Steve Baker, John Skinner, Steve Chick / somebody Digby, R.Clark?, D.Wynn, C.Davey?, Mark Currey Front row (L-R): Gary Haigh, Stuart Tragheim, Tim Dowling, Jonathan Loney, Russell Gardner, C.Anderson?, Andy Ramshaw Absent: J.Rainbow? 17