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AEA Computer Policy Meeting
6 Excerpt from Minutes
THE CHAIRMAN said that he had been sent a draft of the report of the Working Party on the Combined Use of Expensive Research Equipment. the report, which was substantially agreed by the parties principally interested, recommended that the Authority should be authorised to place an order for an Atlas computer for delivery in 1963 or 1964. Requirements for time on the machine were assessed as follows:
|Hours per week|
|Atomic Energy Authority
|National Institute for Research in Nuclear Science||8|
|Cambridge and London Universities
No other regular requirements from Government Research Establishments were foreseen. The report recorded that a strong case was made by Cambridge and London Universities for the installation of Atlas computers in these universities but that it was clear that neither could justify a machine solely for its own use and that it was therefore necessary to consider provision on a joint basis. The most satisfactory arrangement was considered to be that an Atlas computer should be installed at Harwell under the management of NIRNS. the Institute would provide a free service to universities; would make an appropriate charge to the Authority and to the Meteorological Office, and would endeavour to sell any spare time on the computer to industry at commercial prices. The capital cost of the computer would be borne on the Atomic Energy Vote in the form of a grant to the NIRNS, and the Authority would have a guaranteed minimum amount of time which it would pay for at charges which would cover the cost. the universities, having established their case to use the computer could be guaranteed a minimum of time under their own management.
THE CHAIRMAN said that the decision that the computer should be under the management of the NIRNS reflected the requirement of the universities. He had informed the Chairman of the Working Party that the Authority would not wish to contest the decision to put the machine under the management of the Institute but that experienced staff would be required to operate it and these might have to be provided by the Authority, if necessary under contract from the Institute.
In discussion the following points were made:
- The most convenient arrangement might be for an Atlas computer to be operated by Authority staff for the first two or three years with the intention that in due course the staff would be transferred to the NIRNS.
- Heavy demands on the computer were likely to build up quickly once it came into service. the report proposed that the Authority should have a guaranteed minimum amount of time on the machine and that the Institute should be free to distribute the remaining time to the other participants in the scheme. it would be important to establish that the guaranteed minimum did not preclude the Authority from joining with the other participants in making claims for the remaining time on the machine.
- There was no reason why the arrangements proposed in the report should delay a decision to finance NIRNS independently from the Atomic Energy Vote
Summing up the discussion, THE CHAIRMAN said that the conclusions of the Executive were:
- that the Authority should concur in the recommendation that it should place an order for an Atlas computer;
- that the computer should be operated initially by the Authority under contract from the NIRNS, and
- the Authority should not be stopped by the guaranteed minimum of time on the computer from making a claim for a share in the balance of the time.
The Executive invited the Chairman to write on the lines of his summing up to the Chairman of the Working Party.