3.5 ICT/ICL 1900 Software - Two views from the Board



3.5.1 – The ICT Software in 1967

Extract from I.C.T. Annual Report and Accounts 1967


“We have continued to maintain a commanding lead in the provision on time of a wide range of sophisticated computer software, and our software-producing organization is now the largest outside America. The basic design of the 1900 Series greatly simplifies the production of software which is efficient, reliable and fully interchangeable between any machine in the range. It is this feature which makes a 1900 Series machine one of the easiest computer systems to install and operate. It also illustrates the fact that I.C.T. is marketing the most comprehensive range of fully-compatible computers in the world.

The software library now available to our customers contains more than 400  major  packages and 1000 subsidiary programs, with a total number of "words", or computer instruction steps, of over three million. The library includes important packages ; as   PERT—Program   Evaluation   Review   Technique—which   is   a   network   planning technique for the control of new projects. Amongst many applications, 1900 Series PERT was used to progress the fitting of the main engines of the new Cunard liner, Queen Elizabeth II; and Eldo, the European rocket launching organisation, is using the I.C.T.  package to  plan  and  coordinate the development and construction of space launching vehicles. Our lead in the use of the technique was underlined by the successful conference for network planning users which we organised last June; this was attended by over eleven hundred delegates from many parts of the world. Another major 1900 Series   software package    recently   released,   is   PROMPT—Production   Reviewing,  Organising and Monitoring of Performance Techniques—which consists of four separate sets of interlocking computer programs  enabling  users to  build  up computer-based production control systems

On the software development side, substantial progress has been made in implementing highly sophisticated operating systems for the larger computers in the 1900 Series including the 1906A.  Operating systems enable a computer to organise and schedule its own work with minimum human intervention, and are an essential feature of any large multi-access computer system. I.C.T. expects, by the middle of 1968, to make multi-access software generally available to its customers, as distinct from the provision of specialized systems for particular applications; it should thus be among the first in the world, and certainly the first European computer manufacturer, to do so.





3.5.2 – The ICL 1900 Software Development in 1969– After the 1968 merger.

Extract from ICL (Holdings) Annual Report and Accounts 1969


Software Development and Production


ICL has more than two thousand staff engaged in the task of developing and producing software. Expenditure on software development alone is now about equal to that for hardware development. The ICL team, the largest software organisation outside the USA, has brought together many of those who have been responsible over the years for major developments in this field. The strength of this organisation reflects the growing importance of software as part of total computer systems.


A major addition to 1900 Series software was made half-way through the year with the release of the GEORGE 3 operating system. This is currently the most sophisticated of the GEORGE series of operating systems for large 1900 computers. Further marks of the GEORGE 3 system are being developed to enable users to obtain still greater advances in operating efficiency.


The J-level operating system for System 4 computers is now proven and is demonstrating the soundness of the philosophy underlying System 4 software.  The Edinburgh Multi-Access Project, an advanced System 4 operating system being developed in collaboration with Edinburgh University, has made encouraging progress and will be put into use on an experimental basis early in 1970, This year will also see the release of two further System 4 operating systems, MULTIJOB and R, the latter being designed specifically for the powerful 4/70 computer.


ICL not only provides basic and applications software for its computers. Its User Programming Service produces and sells programs to customers on a contract basis. This is now a rapidly expanding part of ICL's business.