Britain’s super computer gets ‘life ban’

The Herald November 13, 1980

BRITAIN’S most-hated computer is being retired. The Swansea Licensing Centre, which keeps records of the nation’s 17 million vehicles, says that the £10 million machine, is being replaced by a more modern system, reports Iana-AP.

The computer became a national joke during its seven-year life and a target for every comedian in the land.

It “convicted” vehicle owners, who had never committed a driving offence, sent a reminder to a six-year-old child, put professional drivers off the road by delaying licences and issued a licence to a dog named Charlie. A youth who passed his driving test on his 17th birthday received a licence with 12 endorsements for traffic offences and a 28-day driving ban.

LESSONS FOR TODAY

  • Computers and computer systems are very important tools because they make our lives and work much easier, but just like other mechanical gadgets, they sometimes fail to do their job properly leading to mistakes.
  • When using computers, it is essential that you keep in mind that computers do not last forever and therefore individuals and businesses should always have a replacement plan for such gadgets.
  • Although the replacement period for computers varies, experts generally agree that the average lifespan of a computer is typically three to five years. Desktop computers should last at least three years, and laptops, between three and five years.
  • National databases that capture vital information on members of the public should be attended to and monitored regularly to ensure that they are working properly, to avoid mistakes.
  • National institutions that play a pivotal role in a country, such as The Swansea Licensing Centre, rely on integrity and once they lose that integrity, their positions are compromised. They lose the trust of members of the public and it would be difficult and almost impossible to regain that trust.
  • There is a popular saying in computer science – garbage in, garbage out – GIGO, meaning that flawed input of data produces nonsense output.

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