NHS and the swinging sixties (MC)
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6 NHS and the swinging sixties
During WWII people had been isolated from spin and media for a while, except war for spin of cause, and brought together in a common cause. This meant that people talked about the things they wanted NHS, and better working conditions. There was a unanimous view and the Labour landslide rapidly brought those wishes about, though good management such as that which occurred in the National Coal Board spread around the world but not do so much here in the UK. By the early 1970′s there was full employment as far as it was possible to achieve, perhaps only 100,000 people looking for work. Most things that we had were British made and designed by craftsmen, built to last. British car industry did our otherwise justified reputation for engineering excellence no good, but the problem was with people management, and the change in management philosophy to design and built for ware-out. Such a policy a policy was fine for Ford who as a car company built its reputation on cheap to buy, service, and cheap parts, their customers new and got exactly what exactly what they expected – The companies earliest cheap and cheerful Model T’s may be still working as Taxi’s in Cuba for example, having perhaps seen three generations of owner out. This contrasted with much of British companies manufacturing cars where were just badly made as a consequence of poor industrial relations/bullying and extreme swing towards manufacturing for short usefulness spans was bad for all UK manufacturing not just cars manufacture. Is is evident that British Leyland management did not address design to ware-out but tried built badly instead.
American Scientific Calculator which at £25 was twice the price of a Sinclair Scientific and by comparison works properly. It masses of sophisticated functions that I needed some of when I was at College. It still works properly the buttons have lovely tactile feel so you don’t need to look at the display to cofirm data entry and you enter the formula as you it is written down – none of these things were ever so with the Sinclair Scientific or other of their products.By comparison Sinclair captured popularity and interest – How did they manage to create a storage device called a microdrive for the ZX QL that was not a continuous tape loop. Buy it and see – it was a tape loop. This product was introduced near the end of the Sinclair popularity era.
The Calculator is an example of a product just built to do the job very well – USA at this time was trailing behind UK in the respect of going down market replacing substance with spin and gimmickry
Examples of understanding of motivation are; The last two examples are of workers being self managed. The first two examples are from my time a college studying Diploma in Engineering Management.
The Hawthorn experiment in the 1920′s USA, – Many experiments were carried out changing the environmental conditions in a factory for a selected group verses the control, the factory. What ever was done hot/cold/comfortable, good/poor lighting and it was found that the group selected always preformed better, against the control. The conclusion being that the selected group considered themselves special. This experiment cost Hawthorn a few million dollars.
Or the gang working in National Coal Board which was very productive. Workers were organised into gangs in charge of cutting coal and bringing it to the surface. Consequently each gang was self managed, it’s members would support each other but also deal with slacking. The lesson learnt was copied by Japanese quality circles, Volvo and others.
And I have recently been told of another called Sixes combined with job and go in British Rail. Six blokes would work on six sleepers at a time moving up six sleeper lengths together. A new worker would be carried for a week, then after that if he got behind eventually catching up with the gang as they finished there break and moved on. Self managing. They went when the job was done hence either home early or late when the job was done hence no cost overrun.
British Layland cars became so poorly made that the company’s TV advertising in the 1970′s apologised for Gremlins, faults in new cars. The advertising promised a written guarantee that ‘Gremlins’ would be fixed, But during this time the cars produced were otherwise very well made, leading edge, smart looking designs and you could expect a long life from the cars. Managers ordering employees to do things they were not fit to do, leading understandably to union disputes. Subsequently with launch of the Mini-Metro car in 1980 those problems became history, and by the time the company was re-branded Rover, the company’s quality matched the old Rover brand reputation. Badly managed built-in ware-out and famous poor British management had done it’s worst.By comparison British Leyand or Bristol bus (Titan 1 about the last and best of the route-master style buses) had a very high degree of maintainability making it worth running belted hard daily around London for 40 years, until popular and necessary disability legislation, made them obsolete. There were many British coaches manufactured in about 1960, used as reliable back-ups for more modern vehicles.
British manufacturing, science, and engineering led as I said in aviation from the Schneider Trophy in the 1920′s, with the Rolls Royce Merlin engine that power output was boosted by a factor of nearly four during the WWII, and ultimately the postwar Harrier Jump Jet. Though in reality as I said earlier it was more due to optimal design compromises and propaganda but for Computing in Babage’s Difference Engine and his assistant Ada Lovelace (1840s) the first computer programmer, to Colossus the first stored program electronic computer developed at Bletchley park in 1943 (Enigma http://www.bletchleypark.org.uk/). Our engineering excellence, taken for granted, was also ordinary and everyday.
The creation of the computer
Alan Turing who put his pre-war work aside on a universal programmable machine (computer) to work at Bletchley Park code breaking only recently (2009) received acknowledgement of his war work. Prime Minister Churchill said code breaking had cut two years of the length of WWII. Alan Turing receive a grant of £60 to develop the now called computer but he was called away to do war in 1936 and not completed that project http://www.turing.org.uk/turing/The Prime Minister Gordon Brown has released a statement on 10/09/2009 the Second World War code-breaker, Alan Turing, recognising the “appalling” way he was treated for being gay. http://www.number10.gov.uk/Page20571
here is near direct link to Babage’s difference engine although it may not be a British first; The Gate Array developed by Faranti in about 1978 was very successful. The company went bankrupt but was saved by the state run National Enterprise Board (NEB). The gate array is a random array of logic (or can do simple electronic analogue functions – that was unique) which is wired together to a customer specified mask.The Gate Array was successful used within cheap toys like ZX81 computer, home computers like the BBC and quality Japanese cameras making money that financed the NEB. The really reprogrammable version called the Programmable Logic Device was developed by Philips in about 1984 – this device could be erased using ultraviolet light and reprogrammed again. Sadly people at that time did not value anything British made and the Thatcher government operated a scorched earth policy toward British manufacturing and all that was, I think good, but not valued generally by the people.
Forbidden Planet" - Robbie the Robot 1956
A virtual machine, which the maths and science for this electronic universal all purpose engine proposed by Alan Turing was absolutely unique world first, but common and everyday now. But a machine that can simulate solid object by transmitting waves based on “particle wave duality” theory of the early 20th C are only conceivable of in science fiction significantly in the TV series Dr Who of 1963 in which the TARDIS has a machine at its core very well protected that generates waves to form its virtual substance. The first machine which created a virtual beast from bad subconscious thoughts appeared in the earlier American film “Forbidden Planet” of 1956
Value and price judgement;
It seems that in the UK south east particularly short term cost saving wins over quality and joy in its ownership or value for money. This occurs presumably because people can’t evaluate the relative merits because items are presented well, priced in odd quantities strange imperial units or unrounded metric units and at a discounted price so everything is clouded. Value can not be assessed but when it can be people will also chose quality unless there own means limits that judgement. Of all companies Tesco seem to understand this particularly well in the UK.
Bakelite radio, Ultra MW/LW, built in loop aerial. Purchased in 1954 for £16, pictured working 55 years later.
This radio does not suffer with audio mains hum, that others like it can, though the supply voltage mains ripple would be quite high, due to its cheap manufacture. The sound reproduced is warm mellow, as if there were a large loudspeaker and substantial baffle fitted (Valve sound, which I think, was developed by Philips in the 1930′s). Inherent triode valve distortion was enhanced to create sub-harmonics that gives the impression that the radio has a good low frequency performance. Never had any repair work carried out on it, other than to fix some damage to the outer case. Electronics
There is no particular merit of Valve v Transistor technology except that you can integrate considerably more transistors cheaply and thereby develop circuits with fewer compromises. If you want distortion a simple FET transistor when operated with a very low voltage has a of its characteristic called the triode region the same characteristic as a triode valve. There are low distortion valve designs based on pentode and beam valves. There was a cold cathode developed to emitted electrons at room temperature in about 1970 thereby making the heater redundant this could have been used in the Cathode Ray Tube used in televisions but never was. Also with good design radio where radio interference call “break-through” that occurred with Bipolar Junction Transistors can be avoided by good grounding and bandwidth limiting.
The basic strategy for good radio interference avoidance in electronic equipment was originally developed following Benjamin Franklin’s experiments with flying a kite on a carbonised string with a key attached in a thunderstorm. Generally sharp bends points cause high electrical stress and attract lightning but balls and straight lines conductors have low electrical stress and conduct lightening which is a broader range of frequencies.There was a detour from this basic strategy in electronics after introduction of the Bipolar Junction Transistors after 1960. Whereas it has been speculated, following investigation of a Russian fighter plane in about 1970, that USSR’s military technology did not make this mistake so there aircraft kept using valves and may have been more likely to survive lightening or electromagnetic pulse following a nuclear bomb blast.Bonding every where for good short straight return paths is now back in fashion. But star earth strategy does work somewhat but is never the best or worst.
I suppose ideologies v what works – a theme which underlies this discussion – get clouded a bit possibly by expediency and pressures to meet targets. The consequence has resulted fatalities in the automotive industry where more and more cars have safety critical, fly by wire, electronics replacing mechanical linkage and control.
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