Flop of the year

Reading from the Authorised Version of King Henry, Book of Abacus, Chapter 20:

“And Namron said unto Malcolm “Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Systems who have seen that I have talked with you in the Operating Committee”.

Chamber pot: Flop
of the Year award

So Malcolm went down unto the people and spake unto them saying, “Fear not, for Namron thy Lord is come to prove you and that his fear may be before your faces that ye sin not”. And the people removed and stood far off.

And Malcolm said unto them, “Lord Namron, thy God, is a jealous God visiting the iniquity of the managers upon the analysts unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate him, and showing mercy unto those that love him and keep his commandments.

Thou shalt not take the name of the systems acceptance procedure in vain, and thou shalt observe European JCL writing procedure.

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s DP Centre, nor thy neighbour’s data set names, nor thy neighbour’s scratch tape procedure, nor thy neighbour’s spooling system.

For in six days Namron created heaven and earth and European commonisation, that all shall flourish in his wisdom, be they kraut or spic or wop or greasy Diego.

Thou shalt have only 32 tape drives and not use beyond four per step.

Thou shalt write an equipment inventory list and floor plan.

Thou shalt use internal count checking.

Thou shalt reduce thy GPAM runs.

Thou shalt not exceed 180K or 240K on Fridays when the wind is southerly.

Thou shalt not hide BIPs.

Honour thy Software and Equipment Support lest thy days be short in the job that Namron thy Lord giveth thee”.

And the people said unto Malcolm. “Show us how these things may be done that we may walk in the valley of the Lord and not be dropped in it in the Operating Committee”.

And Malcolm spake thus saying, “Thou shalt not know how, for your eyes will be opened and ye shall be as Namron knowing manpower plan from Format 4”.

And the people said unto Malcolm, “Give unto us of procedures, plain and standards, simple lest we may stray from the paths of righteousness as monitored on the screen”.

And lo, there were thunderings and lightnings and datagrams and supplements and requests and authorisations and EWNs and PTFs and Fault Reports, and when the people saw it they removed even farther and were sore pissed-off.

And Malcolm spake much but did sweet F.A. And the people named him: Flop of the Year 1976 .

A hallowed institution

During the years 1976-84, the Systems Office Christmas Lunch marked the end of a year of unrelieved drudgery.

At this social event of the year, awards were given for gaffs and flops, and Flop of the Year recognised outstanding unplanned achievements and screw-ups.

The prophet Michael from the dry lands' citation for the 1976 award is shown opposite and the winner was Software & Equipment Support and its manager, Malcolm Perry.

The Christmas Lunch and Flop of the Year were abandoned in 1984, when the growth in staff numbers made it impractical to hold one office-wide event.

Malcolm Perry retired in 1991 and now lives in rural North Yorkshire.

He says that the award was not unexpected because the winning Systems Acceptance Procedure, for which his team was responsible, affected most people within the office.

Application developers were forced to ensure the robustness of their creations before they were accepted by the data centres for regular production.

Malcolm says the SAP was very successful and it helped reduce expensive out-of-hours overtime payments to programmers.

Perhaps the Flop award was the developers' revenge?