SADIE, SUSIE and the Molecular 18

I began working for Business Computers Limited around October 1968, when I was 19. I started work as a Secretary, with the promise that I could learn computer programming. It was at the Tottenham Court Road office in London, where the salesmen were. It also had a small programming department. I worked for Derek Hough, who was a great boss, he saw the funny side of everything and made us laugh. He was about 36. Shortly after I began there, we were informed that the programming department was moving to Brighton and we had to move there too. I moved down there in March 1969.

The factory was in Portslade and the programming department was moved there and expanded. Lots of the young people moved down from London at the same time and we met outside of work socially. There were about 26 people in the department including 10 new people. Mick Moorhead was Head of the Programming Department and ran courses to bring new programmers into the company. If people did not pass the tests, they had to leave. If they got really good marks for the Sadie course, they moved on to a Susie programming course. A Sadie took about I week to programme, and had circuit boards.

The Susie took about 6 weeks to programme and had a large magnetic drum for memory.

After I kept reminding Derek that I wanted to be a programmer, and had found someone to take my place, I was allowed to go on a programming course. I did the Sadie and the Susie courses. We progammed in machine language. I think the calculations were made in a register (temporary memory) that had four compartments at the top and four at the bottom. I think 02 was a beta shunt. We subtracted numbers in the last two compartments to test for negative, to work out if the bottom number was larger than the top number.

I was a computer programmer/systems analyst. The salesman would tell us the customer's requirements, and we would make flowcharts to show how we would programme them. We did things like invoicing, stock control, and payroll. I think at the time they were planning a Sadie 5 and a multi Susie. Punch cards and paper tape were used for extra memory. Sometimes we visited the customer, I remember going to Birmingham and Manchester.

I had always wanted to live in Canada, and when I heard that BCL was going to start selling the computers in Vancouver, I asked for a job over there. In October, 1970 I moved to Vancouver and started working at M.P. Hofstetter (B.C.) Ltd. I worked for Max Muellder, and we did sell some computers. But I think we had competition from IBM and it was hard to compete with them, with British imports. The computers were expected to do more than in England, but I did programme them for it, and I was told that I was programming the impossible! Eventually Max left and they stopped selling them. I worked there until March, 1972. I remember visiting customers in Penticton, and also Westco in Vancouver. I think my starting Salary in London was £12 per week, which went up to £20 by the time I left, and then doubled in Canada to about £40 per week.

Other programming staff in Portslade: Stuart, Mike, Rena, David (lived on a houseboat in Shoreham harbour), David Moorhead, Paul Moorhead, Alan, Gordon, Brian, Richard, Peter, Anna, Alison.

Some British customers: BERL Ltd (Manchester), Brosters, Packaging Products, Conde Nast, IPC (?)