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Marconi Data Systems

Page history last edited by Alan Hartley-Smith 1 year, 2 months ago




Input from Peter Bain

I'm sure that others can add to this, but this is my starter for ten.


Marconi Data Systems was a trading arm of Data Systems Division in the mid-1980s. It provided consultancy services in real time software development. Also Quality management & Training services. It also sold software tools developed for in-house use to the wider software community. Alan Greaves was Divisional Manager.

MDS provided expertise to MCCS to help it resolve serious problems on BATES, the Battlefield Engagement System for the Army ( we had a lot of experience in digging software projects out of holes!). Also to Rochester on the Phoenix pilotless surveillance drone & other projects. Mike Sutton did a lot of work on BATES & Graham Smith did similarly for Rochester. I led this side of the business as Projects Manager responsible for getting the sales & then delivering the projects.

Peter Matthews provided quality management consultancy & Liz Arnold provided skills training planning consultancy.

The main tools sold were Text Management System, TMS, & System Integration & Build System, SIBS. UKADGE people may remember these tools. These sold to various GEC & Marconi companies as they ran on GEC computers. They also sold to the Australian armed services I remember. Derek Watkins ran this side of the business. Sam Bond & Graham Smith provided a lot of the technical expertise.

Data Systems Division had a second arm, developing & supplying radar simulators based on the 900 series products inherited from Elliotts but upgraded onto GEC computers. Steve Bousfield was the salesman & Colin McRae was Systems Engineering Manager for this business initially - I took it on when Colin left the company. The GEC simulator sold to the Finnish Air Force. We also tried to sell it to Iran & Iraq & I'm sure Steve has many tales about this.

Setting up Data Systems Division & establishing Marconi Data Systems was a very interesting time. We had offices at Writtle Road but also at Norwich, sharing a building with Rod Hough's TID. TID were very helpful in helping us establish our office there - it reduced the chances of their office being closed. Lack of simulator sales led to the demise of the division in the late 1980s. The Marconi Data Systems consultancy team were moved from working on external customer projects to helping resolve our own problems, however a number left the company for MCCS as a result. I moved on to take over Bacchus.




Input from Steve Bousfield

One of the products Data Systems Division was proposing was a Force Management Trainer. Development was never completed but it was taken far enough for Anglia TV to do a bit on it. This piece was broadcast on 29 March 1987.


Input re Derek Watkins period

Born in August 1984, the Data Systems Division, known for sales promotion purposes as Marconi Data Systems, is the newest and, for the moment at least, the smallest of Marconi Radar’s four trading Divisions. It has four units - Software Engineering, Technical Operations, Simulation Sales, Services.

THE tasks assigned to the new Division’s Services are manifold and are performed under the aegis of Derek Watkins, who was responsible in the early 60s for designing Marconi’s first computer, ‘TAC, and who has been associated with on-line, real-time computers for almost 25 years. Services is responsible for marketing and selling the general software support packages and software tools developed and produced by Patrick Pettit’s team.

It is also responsible for administering some of Marconi Data System’s principal assets — the Computer Bureau, the Documentation Control Office and the Word Processing Unit.

The facilities of the Computer Bureau are used throughout the whole of the Company, though there is no reason why spare capacity should not be sold outside. The machines include: three large GEC 4000 series, which provide multiaccess services via linked OS4000s. This complex is shortly to be linked into the GEC network, GECNET, through which access will also be available to British Telecom's packet switching network; an INTEL microprocessor development network, which provides a number of work stations; and Locus 16s, which may be used as ‘stand alone’ terminals or slaves to the 4000 complex.

The Documentation Control Office, like the Computer Bureau, provides the whole of Marconi Radar with a service. It handles and register s all types of software material produced over the last 15 years, including documents of all kinds, paper and magnetic tapes, magnetic discs etc. And strict, formal control enables it to discharge the responsibility of storage, the archiving of insurance copies and the production of verified and inspected copies of any item held. The Documentation Control Office also uses programming machines for producing ROMs, which are needed in quantity by Marconi Radar’s production areas.

The Word Processing Unit operates a number of screens into the Company’s central WORDPLEX System, and while it provides a service that is used principally by the Division in connection with its documentation control activities, it could very well sell spare




Comments (1)

Ian Gillis said

at 2:10 pm on Feb 12, 2016

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