Bohemia Village Voice  Bohemia Village Voice

For bohemians everywhere

I was married in a Bohemian Castle

Richard Slater.

Richard Slater.

Part 2 of 8

St Peter’s Road resident and technical author Richard Slater recounts his days in Bohemia. [Bohemia is the southern province of the Czech Republic; the northern one is Moravia].  In this second part, Richard describes the 1960s world of computers he entered and how he became a computer engineer, a job which led to him travelling behind the iron curtain – including Bohemia. 
So how did this come about?  Well, when I left university in early 1964, I decided to go into an industry that seemed to have a promising future – although nobody then had the slightest idea just how promising. So I became a computer engineer, working for Elliott Automation at Borehamwood in Hertfordshire and, after a long training course, I was employed installing the company’s computer systems. I know this may baffle people these days, when you basically take the computer out of the box and plug it in, but things were very different then. It’s difficult to understand just how far computer technology has advanced in 40 years unless you were there. The first system I worked on was the Elliott 503, the second generation of computers to be built using solid-state components: that is, it used transistors in place of vacuum tubes, or valves. The most basic 503 system comprised three cabinets, each 2 metres high, 1 metre wide and 1/2 metre deep: 3 cubic metres to house a computer system with 40 Kbytes of memory! Moving a system from the factory floor, shipping it abroad and then re-assembling it really upset the circuitry. As a result, installing and commissioning a system so that it worked reliably and the customer would sign for it took anything from 3 to 6 weeks. Since I was then single, and the married engineers didn’t want to be away from home too often for several weeks at a time, I installed several 503 systems.
Next issue: Richard goes behind the Iron Curtain.

The fairytale Karlstejn Castle where he wed in 1966.

The fairytale Karlstejn Castle where he wed in 1966.

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