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Page history last edited by Ian Gillis 3 years, 7 months ago Saved with comment




The (initially annual then biennial) ritual of Farnborough was always approached with mixed feelings - on one hand there were the challenges and opportunities of pushing our products to the front of a major, international shop window, and on the other hand there was the disruption to existing programmes and the feeling that the real decisions were made elsewhere anyway. But everyone enjoyed the days out at Farnborough for the flying, the food and the opportunity to look at the competitors' products.





S713 Martello






Dave Lugton has provided photos taken in 1986 of this demo raster display system, a derivative of which was exhibited at Farnborough in 1988.






Nigel Skinner-Simpson adds the following related story:


My fuzzy memory tells me that the application software was written in ADA and ran on a DEC Microvax II. The graphics ran on a separate VME bin linked to a very nice display monitor. Gareth Roberts handled that end of the ship. TACTIME was exhibited at Farnborough in 1988. I still have the original Tactime brochure, along with a report of Farnborough as printed in Chelmsford News And Views Issue 30, October 1988 which I quote here for your amusement.


From the Farnborough '88 article on page 8:


"In the subdued lighting of the chalet-like stand, with its facilities for a 12-man/woman private meeting, Bob Prior and team showed the flexibility and aptitude of Tactime. With the enthusiasm and persuasiveness that would convince the driver of a No 11 bus that he couldn't get home without it, Bob ignored the roar of Russian jets and whirr of looping helicopters to take possible customers through the intricacies of the system. 'A large number of people have been very interested in Tactime,' said John Winstanley, 'and there's been a lot of interest expressed in the products yet to come, such as the 743D.' "


As noted in another article on the same page, there was the odd "hiccough"...


"Top marks for fortitude must go to the engineer who set up the Tactime. Modesty - 'I'm only part of a team' - prevented him giving his name, but he took much time and trouble over setting up the system, under the watching eyes of a visitor and assorted personnel. Having satisfied himself that all was in order, he stepped back to allow the demonstration to take place. The demonstrator (the writer couldn't read his name on the badge!) stepped forward and knocked a switch. The screen went black. With barely a sigh, the engineer stepped forward and said, 'Sorry, it'll take another 30 minutes to reload.' Much shuffling, polite mopping-of-brows and gazing politely at the display posters by the audience."


No prizes for guessing who the engineer was (cough).




S711 (1988)



The following is taken from Chelmsford News and Views, October 1990, which in retrospect could be seen as a last push to stay on the civil ATC stage, with a bold presence of the Messenger SSR and the S361 ATC display system. The photographs are by Ian Gillis.


Farnborough 90

To the popular media and most of the public Farnborough means aircraft. For the thousands of people from the exhibiting companies whose job it is to prepare, assemble and staff the stands it means long hours of planning, hard work and sore feet.


FOR Marconi Radar the planning for Farnborough began almost two years ago, with the decision to have a separate stand in the 'radar-park', rather than joining the GEC-Marconi indoor stand.

This allowed us the space to show the new series of colour, raster scan displays, known as S361, and have a Messenger LVA antenna turning outside as an eye-catcher.

As usual George Knowles faced, and overcame, all the logistic and practical problems to produce an effective stand.

Having an exhibit is one thing; the next task is to get the right people to see it. This process, co-ordinated by Chas Chandler, assistant sales & marketing director, occupied a period of many months: updating lists of officials and foreign dignitaries, identifying those customer organisations which, because of impending system design or purchasing decisions, should have special attention, sending out hundreds of individual invi­tations, collating the replies (usually received very late) and ensuring that the right sales staff and engineers were in the right place at the right time. And then, of course, adapt­ing the whole plan daily to suit the changes of programme introduced by some visiting delegations.

On the day (eight days alto­gether) much of the sorting-out fell to the three Marconi Radar receptionists, June Watson in the chalet, and Nicky Baker and Mandy Savage on the Marconi Radar stand.



Their tasks included receiv­ing and identifying visitors, locating their hosts, constantly communicating by phone between the Marconi Radar stand, the main stand, the chalet and Writtle Road, with administrative, logistic and technical queries, and by walkie-tal­kie with Chas Chandler, George Knowles and our team minibus to actually intercept and capture dele­gations, all this had to be com­bined with provid­ing endless sup­plies of coffee and generally keeping things in order. Long tiring days with a hot bath, a hotel meal and an early night the main objectives in the evenings. Hard work too for the sales and engineering staff whose task it was to interest visitors in our capability and products.



Mike Lumley and lan Gillis are probably still mum­bling their S361 demonstration patter in their sleep.

The sales managers and marketing executives' job, apart from being alert to the arrival of their 'own' visitors, was to ensure that all arrivals received immediate attention, and then to assess the area and level of interest to get most benefit from the visit.

Not boring a potential cus­tomer can be more important than trying to transfer as much information as possible.

There were lighter moments, of course. One East European delegation, specifically visiting Marconi Radar, had half of its number 'hijacked' on arrival at Heathrow by a competitor. It took most of a day to get them back!

The catering manager of a chalet adjacent to our stand­ took it upon himself to supply surplus food to George in return for minor assistance during the setting-up period. This led David Chenery to observe, on discovering George tucking into a real feast one day, that for Farnborough '92 we could entertain our visitors that way instead of spending money on the GEC-Marconi chalet.

In the end, though, a general feeling of a job well done by all those involved. Delegations from over 30 countries wel­comed and satisfactorily dealt with, plus innumerable visitors from our UK customer organi­sations. Many old contacts renewed and strengthened, and a lot of new ones made.

Purchasing decisions, ulti­mately, are made by indivi­duals, and it is in the impres­sion made upon the visitors that the success of Farnbor­ough lies. Only time will tell just how successful we have been in 1990.





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Ian Gillis said

at 3:25 pm on Feb 11, 2016

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