1.045 Yosemite, SWBB

Thursday, 1/16/2020

The first real rain of the year came as intermittent, heavy showers. I drove through one on the way to the Yosemite warehouse where I spent the day helping in a treasure hunt, of a sort.

Sometime back in the 90s, or possibly the 80s, the London Science Museum loaned all or part of an early Ferranti computer to the Computer History Museum, possibly as early as when it was still in Boston. The part or parts of this machine ended up in the Museum’s early storage facility at Moffat field. At some point most of that material was returned to the Science Museum, but one piece, a large plug-board, was not returned. The Science Museum would like it back, or failing that, they think £10,000 compensation sounds fair.

Where is the board? It’s about 18×24 inches by an inch thick, weighs several pounds, and in general is not something you would think is easy to lose, nor something anyone would likely steal. So it was probably still in the collection when the Moffat field material was moved to the then-new Yosemite warehouse around 2009. I helped with some of that work, and I remember that we tried to catalog everything into the newer database, at least minimally. However, it is possible that the board got packed in a box, or in a large plastic tub with other large boards, and shelved, without being identified as what it was.

One nice thing is that given its size, it can’t be in a standard banker’s box. That eliminates several hundred boxes that we don’t have to open. But the ongoing project now is to open and look into every one of the larger, flat boxes that could hold it, and into any plastic tub file it would fit. Today we worked all of aisles 14, 15, and most of 16. I learned that we have a surprising number of plug-boards from the IBM 402 and 407 accounting machines. The Ferranti board would be about the size of a 407 board but looks quite different.

In the evening I watched the Stanford women get whupped at Oregon. They played even the first half, down only a few points, but in the second half Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu, the consensus college player of the year, went on a tear, and the Ducks opened a 30 point lead by the end. OK. Last year the Ducks beat us by a similar margin in the regular season, but lost to Stanford in the PAC-12 tournament two months later. So you never know.


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