The Priorities Committee

University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory

The Priorities Committee (by K.E.M.)
		An outsider's impression.

Characters:	Wilkes		Mike Woollett
		Mutch		Sid Barton
		Miller		Peter Chamberlain
		Gill		Donald willis
		Douglas		Gordon Stevens
		Hartree		Ken Machin
		Cleaner		Margaret Hartree

As the curtains (if any) open (if possible) we find a table with one
large and impressive chair, and five ropey old chairs. A Cleaner
enters, carefully polishes the large chair and gives the others a cursory flick of the duster.

Enter Wilkes, Mutch, Miller, Gill, Dougles and Hartree

[in pencil] Wilkes (look at watch)	Has anyone seen Miller ?
[in pencil] Mutch	He's upstairs - he'll be down in a minute
Wilkes:	Well gentlemen, we have a large number of enquiries this
	week ...
Miller:	Before we get to them could I have a word? I've got a new
	program to find the largest possible integer, and I'd very much
	like to try it out.
Hartree:What good will it be?
Miller:	Well, in 1573 a Czecho-Slovakian arrow-sharpener called Zwkwp,
	who was a bit of a mathematician in his spare time, predicted
	that 2^137-1 was the largest possible integer, and nobody's been 
	able to prove or disprove it since.
Gill:	But what good ...
Wilkes: I think we must get on. Now what have we to consider first?
Douglas:I was approached the other day by a man from the Department 
	of Cybernetic Palaeontology.
Gill: 	What on earth does he want to do?
Douglas (picking up paper): "An investigation of the cross-correlation
	between orthogonal Whifflepoof functions and normalised Fumble
Wilkes: But surely this isn't ...
Douglas:He's going to publish the results in the Proc. Camb. Phil.
Wilkes: Oh, in that case ...
Mutch: 	Job no.5237.
	There's a letter here from a man in Oxford (shambles breaks out)
	(Mutch raising his voice) He says "Dear Sir, my friend Lord
	Nuffield tells me ...."
Wilkes: Well, I don't think we need to discuss this any further. Give
	him a job number, Mutch, and send him an illuminated Fully
	Authorised User's Licence.
Miller: About my largest integer program .... (everyone starts
	talking rapidly; they fade out one by one, leaving Hartree saying)
Hartree: ... a new orchestration of the Messiah for the Philarmonic.
	I'm going to use tank one for strings, tank two for woodwinds,
	tank three for brass, and tanks four to thirty-two for the
	percussion. I think 4D will be sufficient for the conductor ...
Gill: 	But surely the output is going to be difficult?
Mutch: 	Well, the Hollerith's people have started work on a tape-to-manuscript
	convertor which will probably be very useful for a door-
	stop when this project is finished.
Wilkes: I think there's no doubt that an acknowledgement to the
	Laboratory would look very well on the posters, so I think we
	must give all possible facilities for this job.
Douglas: I remember when I was in Poonah one of our subalterns was
	able to play a tune on the tracks of a Bren-gun carrier ...
Wilkes: Yes, no doubt. Well gentlemen, i'm afraid we've got to the
	end of this month's ration of job numbers. Mutch, will you send
	the usual reply ..."fullest consideration" ... "deeply regret" ...
	"machine time precious", etc. to all these other people? (Throws
	other pile of letter into the w.p.b.) now what about today's
	issue of Operating Memoranda
Mutch: 	I thought we ought to issue one about not taking the Petty 
	Cash to the Bun Shop.
Miller: Yes, I think that's a good idea, could you also mention that
	if anyone wants to use my largest integer routine to find the 
	largest integer for himself ...
Wilkes: And talking of routines, remeber that M.93 is now available 
	in the library.
Gill: 	And that W.2 has been withdrawn, having been sold to Ferranti's.
Douglas:And that people who want to use the machine after six should
	present their passes to the night constable at the door ...
Mutch: 	I think those five will be enough for today. We'll put the 
	rest in tomorrow's issue.
Gill: 	Shouldn't we consider the Summer School now? After all, I shall
	be at Harvard then.
Wilkes: Well, since Hartree and I are going abroad to visit the 
	Societe Anonyme des Basheurs-up des Machines de Computation and 
	the Automatischemathemicalischemachinengesellschaft, I was
	thinking that Mutch and Miller ...
Mutch: 	I think I'm going to be in Manchester.
Miller: And I shall be rather busy with my largest integer routine.
Wilkes: Douglas?
Douglas:Well, actually, ...
Wilkes: Ah, yes. Hockey. Still, I think we shall be quite happy to
	leave all the organisation in the capable hands of


Props required:
	1 impressive chair
	5 ropy chairs
	odd pieces of paper

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