Edsac 10 sketch Characters: Mrs.Covill Margaret H Sid Sid Edsac Margaret L Eric Eric MVW Michael Stan Stan Stringer Michael Chamberlain Peter Script Donald Donald: We now present a four dimensional film featureing the work at the Mathematical Laboratory, where, since 1947, there has been some interest in electronic brains. Since the time the name Edsac 2 became a household word the design of computers has become rationalised, that is to say, the functions of the machine correspond more closely with the biological functions performed. The first attempt in this direction was by Foreman, who in keeping with the well-known proverb "A bird in the hand is worth two in the Bush Room" , constructed a piece of apparatus which would operate from vocal stimuli, in particular the commands "stop" and "start". And now in this year 1992 we present Edsac 10, which receives information through its eyes and ears, and is equipped with a vocal output. Over to the Mathematical Laboratory. (Screens withdrawn and pause for assimilation of stage) We are lucky that on this very day the staff of the Laboratory is expecting a visit from the Chamberlain of the University, but the working day begins in the usual way. (Enter Mrs.Covill with broom) Edsac: Morning Covill Mrs.C: Good Morning Sir. (Smoke pours from behind machine) Donald: Edsac 10 is attended by a staff which includes a chef, a stoker, and a doctor. The doctor should be here soon if the national transport system is operating smoothly. (Mrs.C. sees smoke and reacts) Mrs.C: Mr.Barton, Mr.Barton, that there machine of yours is on fire. (She exits right. Sid enters, left, smoking and scattering matches) Sid: Somebody call ? (Looks around and then pulls out pools coupon, walks to Edsac and compares notes silently during Donald's next speech) Donald: The machine usually works right thro' the night and on this occasion it has been doing its football pools for the weekend. The binary system is very convenient for wins and losses and after extensive research a third character X was discovered making it possible to tackle the three draws. The Operating Manager if often seen at this time of the morning (Eric rushes in, left) Eric: Machine serviceable I suppose ? Sid: Well I er ..... (buzzer dah-dit. Eric exits right) Donald: The doctor begins the day by making a routine inspection of the machine's physiology. First he looks at the clock to see if it is correct (Sid compares clock and his watch). It is not but this doesn't matter as long as he records it in the Log (Sid notches a log). He then inspects the other main components of the machine (Sid opens and displays Adder, Multiplier, Main Bus, Little bus and other components on that side but not Store. Eric rushes in from left) Eric: What on earth's that (pointing to rabbit) Sid: Oh, that's just Celia's hare. (Eric exits, right) Donald: It is important to check pulses frequently. (Sid checks pulse of machine's left hand which is pushed thro' for this purpose and then withdrawn. Sid then looks in mouth) Sid: Say 99 Edsac: 1100011 Donald: The Director is only occasionally seen in the Edsac 10 Room since most of his time is occupied by other matters including the ever-present problem of the Laboratory plumbing. We are lucky to see him now as he is on his way to the garage to collect his car after repairs. (Mike, wearing beret and overcoat walks across stage and out. Eric then enters, left, and exits immediately as buzzer sounds) Now that the routine inspection is over the real work of the day begins with the arrival of the mathematicians. Most of these have now gone to the University of Illinois but there are always the theoretical chemists - "Boys will be boys" . (Stan enters) Stan: can I put a short one on Sid Sid: I should think so. (Stan approaches machine and shows it two photographs) Stan: Long speech ending "so can you tell me which day my exam is going to be? (noises off) Donald: The problem being presented is a standard routine which has been modified by the user. You will notice that the machine does not like this problem - the effect is known as the Miller Effect . The attendant now adopts a standard procedure to find the fault (Sid fetches the crock clip, clips it on, twiddles knobs. Taps a panel gently with a screwdriver; taps are echoed from backstage. Repeat taps; echoes again. Kicks the machine. Kicks echoed violently, finishing with crash. Sid tries to lever open the panel - it sticks. After much bashing he opens it, removes a bottle, drinks) Stan: Let's try feeding the problem in on tape Donald: Sometimes problems are presented to the machine on a reel of punched paper tape (Enter Stan with reel. He puts one end in machine and unwinds a few yards. Machine takes in tape rapidly and breaks it) Stan: There's only one thing left. We'll have to use punched cards. (Stan brings in cards, shiffles them. Sid cuts. Stan gives cards to machine which takes them, fans them out and says "I bid 2 spades") (Enter Eric, frantic) Eric: Now look, Sid. The University Chamberlain will be here in a few minutes. We shall have reporters from Varsity watching so its very important that everything goes smoothly. Now we've got a list here of all the questions that he's going to ask us, together with all the right answers. Let's just run through it quickly before he comes. Here's a copy for you Stan. Can you pretend to be the Chamberlain ? Here's a copy of his questions. Now he'll come in this way... I speak first... Good morning , sir. We are very glad to welcome you to our Laboratory. This is our new calculating machine. Stan: It looks a very complicated machine. Who keeps it in working order? (PAUSE) Eric: (lloking up): Sid, that's your line. You have to say, "That's where I come in". Sid: Oh, sorry Eric: Let's try it again. Give him his cue, Stan. Stan: Who keeps it in working order? Sid: That's .. where .. I .. come .. in Stan (sighing): How do you test the machine? Sid: I have a special program for that. Stan: What are all those little trap doors for? Eric: They contain various parts of the machine. Stan: I find it difficult to believe that there is not a little demon inside, working out all the answers. Tell me, how many valves are there in the machine? Eric: About 4000 Stan: Do you have many duds? Eric: We have about one failure a month. But we get most trouble with resistors. Stan: Do they burn out? Eric: No, their resistance usually falls rapidly. Stan: Who actually operates the machine? Eric: We have two very capable girls to look after that. Stan: What do they do? Eric: They keep the machine supplied with problems. Stan: Oh, do they have to prepare all the problems themselves? Eric: No. The preparation of problems needs a team of trained mathematicians Stan: That must be a difficult job. Eric: Yes it is. Stan: Its a wonder that it doesn't drive people mad. You must be glad of some relaxation after a hard day's work. Eric: Yes, indeed. Now, can we give you a demonstration? ... (Looks up and drops script) ... and then we show him the machine working on a problem. I only hope everything goes alright. Quick! Here he comes. Got your script ready, Sid? (Exit Stan, enter Peter) Good morning , sir. We are very glad to welcome you to our Laboratory. This is our new calculating machine. Peter: It looks a very complicated machine. Who keeps it in working order? (PAUSE) Eric (rising to the occasion): that is the job of Mr.Barton, here. Peter: I find it difficult to believe that there is not a little demon inside, working out all the answers. Sid: That is where I come in. Eric: No, no... No, the preparation of programs needs a team of trained mathematicians. Peter: Oh, do you have many duds? Eric: About 4000 Peter: Its a wonder that it doesn't drive people mad. Eric: We have about one failure a month. Peter: Do they burn out? Eric: They keep the machine supplied with problems. Peter: What are all those little trap doors for? Sid: That is where I come in. Peter: You must be glad of some relaxation after a day's work. Eric: We have two very capable girls to look after that. Sid: That is where I come in. Peter: That must be a difficult job. Eric: No, their resistance usually falls rapidly. Peter: What do they do? Sid: I have a special program for that. Eric: Yes, indeed. Now, can we give you a demonstration? (Enter Stan) Stan: Let's try this largest integer program. (He brings in a large tape drops it. Between them they get it somehow stuffed into the machine which begins to grind) Peter:(pointing to wheel): What is the point of this object? Eric: Well I must explain that this is what is called a floating point machine. That means that no part of it has any particular point. (The rhythm of the machine gets slower and uneven. Exit Stan) Eric: Sounds like a bit of trouble (He opens the "multiplier" door. Several rabbits fall out) Sid: Nothing wrong with that. I'll have a look inside. Better turn off the H.T. (He turns off the H.T. and exits. Sound of hammering. Eric twiddles knobs. Peter starts looking in trapdoors. Sid's hand appears) Sid: Got a screwdriver handy? (Eric hands him one) (still invisible) Ivor! Where's Ivor? (Enter with geranium) I said germanium, not geranium (Hands it to Peter and exit) (Peter wanders round for some time looking for somewhere to put it) Sid:(pushing out his hand): Chisel? (Eric gives him one) (hand out again) Soldering iron? (Eric gives him one, hot end first. Sid takes it, yells. Bangs) Stan (entering): Oh - who's turned off the H.T. ? (He turns it on. More yells and bangs). Oh dear - what was that noise? (Exit) (Sizzling begins. Smoke appears. The hand appears, this time heavily bandaged) Sid:(from behind machine) Quick - the fire extinguisher! (Peter finds the hand an ideal place to put geranium. Explosion. Blackout. Lead into "There's much binding in the Lab" ) There's much binding in the Lab The Edsac is an electronic wonder, There's much binding in the Lab It really hardly ever makes a blunder, One day we had a visit from some funny looking men, We showed them how to program and we gave them all the gen, And now we hear the Edsac has been bought by IBM, There's much binding in the Lab There's much binding in the Lab Mechanical machines are simply chronic, There's much binding in the Lab We much prefer computers electronic, We used to have a differential analyser here, We sold it to the army for half a pint of beer, They thought it was a secret tank and shipped it to Korea, There's much binding in the Lab There's much binding in the Lab We used to have a portable computer, There's much binding in the Lab Prof.Hartree used to follow on a scooter, We lent it to Manchester, NPL and TRE,  It worked out all the answers in the Maths Tripos Part 3, And now they have awarded it an honorary degree, There's much binding in the Lab There's much binding in the Lab We are a happy little band of workers, There's much binding in the Lab Our unions don't like us to be shirkers, One day the Edsac stayed up late and did some overtime, The Union expelled her for they reckoned it a crime, And now we find it difficult to find a word to rhyme, There's much binding in the Lab ...last verse... There's much binding in the Lab We hope that you have all enjoyed the party, There's much binding in the Lab Well certainly you all look hale and hearty, The Edsac isn't finished yet, we tried to be too clever, We say it will be next year if we all work hell for leather, But next year never comes and so our jobs go on for ever, There's mu.u.u.u.u.u.ch bind-ing in the Lab.Annotations (Thanks to DJW):
 A reference to Frank Boys, the Theoretical Chemist, one of the major users.
 Just a general reference to Jeff Miller who had a reputation for wanting strange computations like large primes.
 Much Binding in the Marsh was a popular radio programme at the time - Richard Murdock, Kenneth Horne.
 NPL was the National Physical Laboratory. TRE did Radar Research in the war. MVW was there and many others. It is now RRE.