A TOUR OF THE LABORATORY. Commentator. We feel that in this auspicious year of the actual compltion of EDSAC 1 1/2, it would be instructive to take all here, friends of paid employed staff, friends of paid unemployed staff, programmers, engineers, operators, on a tour of this laboratory, I beg pardon,lab-bra-try. This laboratory has now produced two electronic marvels, intricate masses of resistors, condensers, valves, wire, dry joints and television interference producing devices, and they work. (Turns nervously to wings and enquires) They do work, don't,they? (Gruff and annoyed voice replies Yus, us flipping engineers to death. (Uncomfortable cough: continues) So to show you the organisation and facilities that have made these achievments possible, I will conduct you around the laboratory on a normal working day. We begin on the ground floor, in the hall. Please stand back against the wall, or you may be trampled on by University Assistants rushing through to inspect the bargains at Catlings' sale-room, across the road. Here we have the Hollerith room; this contains mechanical computation equipment, continuously in operation, worked by two of our young ladies, Mrs. Feeley and Miss Barter. (Curtains open) (Background to suggest machine) Marion, seated and crosswording Ann, colourfully attired, sways across room carrying large Vogue bag, extracts garment from same and checks for fitting. ANN Do you think Derek will like me in this? MARION Did he pay for it? ANN (sighing) No MARION Yes, he'll like it ANN Oh well, it won't be long before all these beastly financial details are taken off my poor shoulders and put on his strong ones. MARION Have you told him that? ANN Give me time, dear. I have still to convince him that it's the husband who has to do the cooking and washing up. (Enter GORDON) GORDON How's it going? ANN The machine has broken down MARION Again! ANN We are waiting for the engineers GORDON (draws air sharply between teeth) The expense. Let me have a go. (Moves over to inspect machine) (Heavy banging on wall) GORDON What's that ANN Oh, that's just Herbert and Vic bidding us good morning. (GORDON grumbles to himself about damage and expense, then - ) Have you seen him yet? what mood is he in? (GIRLS look bored and shrug shoulders) (CURTAIN CLOSES) COMMENTATOR Next we have the instrument maker's workshop. Through this door all the delicate mechanical equipment of the laborartory passes for servicing and modification. Without the skill and constant labour of our two instrument makers, Tech.Asst. Herbert Norris and Tech Asst. Victor Claydon, the lab would soon run to a standstill. Let us peep in so as not to disturb the vital work. (Curtains open. Table to represent bench, two chairs in background. VIC and HERBERT standing at bench, VIC busy working on watches, HERBERT busy working on toys) HERBERT About time we got some decent materials in this place; these toys wont be up to the standard of last year. VIC You can talk, I'm still using my own watchmaker's lathe. Have to get Bill to sign an order on the quiet, I can see that. (Pause for work) HERBERT Don't let your wife join the Womens Substitute, it works you to death. (VIC looks up, notices audience, elbows HERBERT in ribs. VIC Look out, company. (Both look sheepish, scramble stuff away: pick up reader and punch and work furiously.) (GORDON enters) GORDON How's it going? BOTH (in loud voice) Aye,Aye. (Scramble for two chairs. VIC and HERBERT win, grin broadly. GORDON glowers at them. Sound of person walking by in corridor, money rattling in pocket) GORDON (with startled look) Oh well, I must. (Strides out. CURTAINS close) COMMENTATOR. Now we ascend to the first floor. On the left is room 3. This room is occupied by the chief designer of both machines, Mr.William Renwick, and also by Dr.David Wheeler, a mathematician of some repute. For sheer brainpower, these two cannot be beaten. The things that are conceived in this room would astound you, and some of them are built, and some of them work. (Aside to wings) They do work, don't,they? GRUFF ANNOYED VOICE Any ladies present? COMMENTATOR Yes VOICE In that case, I can't answer your question. (COMMENTATOR looks uncomfortable) COMMENTATOR Let us look in. (CURTAINS open. DAVID seated at table, reading science fiction. BILL reading "Practical Wireless") DAVID Bill, I think if we take this idea of Space-Gun Charlie and that one you've got of F.J.Camm's, we should be able to make it work. BILL What work? DAVID How do I know, we haven't built it yet. BILL It's worth a try. If it works, we'll call it EDSAC II. DAVID Well, it nearly came off with One, and 1 1/2. Third time lucky. (GORDON enters) BILL We want to build...... GORDON(quickly) How much? DAVID(casually) What's a little money? GORDON(savagely) Are you mad? You should try making money. (DAVID and BILL look at each other with looks of sudden inspiration. Rapidly seaech through their respective books) (Head pokes through door - wings - Dick) DICK We've run out of fuses. GORDON (Not looking at door, waves hand in air) Oh, see Dick. DICK I am Dick GORDON(in confusion) Oh! I'll get an order signed. What mood's he in? (DICK makes facial contortions to indicate the worst) GORDON(hurriedly) I'm busy now. Will a weekk's time do? DICK(sighs) P.C.S. again (Leaves CURTAINS close) COMMENTATOR Next we have (in hushed voice) the Director's Office. Quiet, if you please. (CURTAINS open) (M.V. is seated at table. Rushing noise off stage.) (GORDON passes bills.) More bills, Sir. M.V. (looks up, smiles) Ah. 1 1/2 running (Rushing noise stops) M.V. (suddenly looks worried) Oh dear (Paces up and down. GORDON rushes out) (SECRETARY enters, dictaphone headset round neck) SECRETARY The dictaphone recording, Sir. (Looking shocked) Did you want me to type.... (Whispers in M.V.'s ear) M.V. No,No. That must have been when I caught my fingers in the drawer. (SECRETARY rushes out. M.V. rubs chin) So she knew what it meant, eh. Hmmm. (Rushing sound. M.V., with delight,) It's going again. (Does a little dance) (Rushing noise stops) (M.V. collapses in a chair, looking haggard. (CURTAINS close) COMMENTATOR If we look in room 5 we can see some of our budding programmers, our hope for the future. Only the best brains will do for this job. (CURTAINS open) (Crowd, lavishly decked with tapes, carrying program sheets; walking aimlessly about stage, mumbling mathematical jargon, scribbling corrections, tearing sections from tapes, screwing up program sheets. All looking desparate. J.L. is standing by, hands behind back) (1st PROGRAMMER goes up to him with sheaf of program sheets) John, it keeps stopping. Must be the machine. J.L. (after rapid perusal of sheets, in gruff and unhelpful voice) I'm not surprised it stops. Rubbish. (Tosses sheets into air. programmer scrambles for them. 2nd PROGRAMMER (showing sheets to J.L.) John, am I being stupid? J.L. I should think so. 2nd PROGRAMMER Can you see what I'm doing? J.L. (glancing at sheets) Yes. Wasting machine time. (Turns away) 3rd PROGRAMMER (to J.L.) Don't you have programming trouble? J.L. No. 3rd PROGRAMMER Why not? J.L. I never do any. (CURTAINS close) COMMENTATOR In room we have Dr.Miller. Famous for his constant work on primes. One might say jocularly that there is a man in prime condition. (Half hearted laugh. Carries on) We'll see if he is in. Though it's difficult to tell, with so many books about. (CURTAINS open) (Miller seated at table, laden with books.) CHILDREN Daddy, tell us a story. MILLER Just a short one then. Then you can come and watch Daddy play with EDSAC CHILDREN (hopefully) Will it go bang again this time, and make Mr.Waldock act all funny? MILLER Probably. Now listen, here's the story. (Reads script.) CHILDREN Thank you Daddy. MILLER Come on, let's go and play. (CURTAINS close) Comm Walk warily! We are now on the new floor. Here is the new wonder machine EDSAC 2 1/2%, and its brand new control console (kindly provided by the Cavendish Laboratory as heirs of the late Sir George Stokes) we find the Director and the Junior Operator trying out some new tapes. Unlike EDSAC 1 this new machine is not fitted with monitors or other visual aids to help in finding programing errors. However, as a result of considerable pressure from Dr. Wheeler we have fitted to it a number of audible aids, for the same purpose. BUZZER Valerie Sir! you are trying a preset parameter that has not yet been set. M.V. Oh! GONG Val. The tape reader's going too fast, we'll have to switch the inhibition on. (Enter MRS.BROWN carrying cup of tea which she gives to M.V.W. who puts it on the sloping top of the power pack, with the results that might be expected. there is immediately a tremendous flash and a roll of thunder. When the tumult ceases there enters MR.FLACK brandishing a tatty bit of charred cable) Flack When are you people going to learn how to fit the proper fuses? Val. It's all right; it's still working. (Flack removes hat(!) and exits, eyes heavenwards.) CUCKOO Val. Oh dear! I'm afraid that's a floating overflow. M.V.W. Not Room ten again? Oh! I see what you mean! ANGRY HOOTER Val. Where ever did you get that tape from? It says "Good wishes to Charles and Sylvia". Terrific crash of glass Val. Norman! You must not run downstairs when Rudy is carrying the tea up. TELEPHONE RINGS (Valerie answers it) Lord Nuffield would like a word with you Mr.Wilkes. (She loads another tape while M.V.W. listens to phone.) Several gongs (Frantic switch pushing to stop the noise. M.V.W. drops phone to help. All no good. Eventually GORDON rushes in) Gordon That's not EDSAC 2 1/2% you clots - the lab's on fire. (Six buzzes) Gordon Tea up (Exit) M. & C. Good idea (link arms and exit) (CURTAIN) Comm. Now up to the top floor. There we shall see the electronic brain working faster than thought. It is called EDSAC 1, the word meaning "Expressly Designed to Shake All Comers". I'm sorry, but that is the popular interpretation. (CURTAINS open to reveal, left, a notice "LADIES", and backstage a notice "TO EDSAC". Commentator waves arm in direction of LADIES) This is the Ladies' room. (Sundry workmen emerge from LADIES carrying tool-kits. Commentator hurries on). To the EDSAC. (Loud noises. WILF appears, looking worried, and hangs up U/S notice and disappears) There appears to be a slight fault. However I believe the new machine downstairs is available for demonstration, so let us retrace our steps.