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EASAMS - Elliot Automation Space and Advanced Military Systems
Last update 1500 BST ( 1400z GMT/UT/GPS Time )UK time Tuesday 30th June 2020
Hi ! I'm Robin Lovelock , and I worked for EASAMS near Camberley in UK, from 1981 until 1994. This page is my very personal view of a company that many will justly regard as historic, within the British computer and aerospace industries.
You may get a more balanced view of EASAMS by reading the 1989 company newsleter on the right. Click on the picture or link to read the 20 pages in easams89.pdf . It was Clive Radley who gave me a copy, for my 70th Birthday Party in 2017 . I found it recently, and just had to share it with others, particularly old EASAMS workmates. Blame Clive for this page :-)
If you google "easams" you may find relevant articles, including the book(s) written by Clive. I soon found the Wiki article that provided useful history. e.g. The Elliot Brothers making a computer in 1950: similar vintage to the Ferranti Pegasus , dear to me, from my Ferranti and City University days.
That Wiki article only had a few words about EASAMS, but these made me laugh: "EASAMS senior management was highly conservative". This sounds as if it were written by guys who left EASAMS, in the 1960s, to set very successful "body shopping" consultancies like Systems Designers Ltd (SDL). Companies like Logica Defence Systems, Admiral Computing, and Software Sciences, were sometimes teamed with EASAMS in later years, on projects like ADCIS.
EASAMS made it's name in the 1960s, for how it managed the Nimrod Maritime Patrol Aircraft project. It got acclaim in The House of Commons. EASAMS became known as the "Original Systems House". i.e. adopting the "Systems Approach" on a project, considering all aspects, including hardware, software, and manpower - including aspects such as Human Factors, procedures, and training.
During the 1970s, EASAMS became a first level contractor under Panavia, to build the swing wing, Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MRCA), that became the Panavia Tornado IDS - Interdiction Strike. Tornado was to be capable of delivering conventional or nuclear bombs, flying at low level, exploiting technology pioneered in the cancelled TSR2 aircraft. (Tactical Strike Recconasance).
Tornado IDS was a UK/German/Italian project, with EASAMS, and the aircraft manufacturs: MBB in Germany, SIA in Italy, and BAe in UK. MBB, SIA, and BAe built various parts, like fusilage, wings, etc, and EASAMS handled the overall avionics design, including selection and contracting of computer, radars, head-up display, etc. EASAMS also did the inflight software, and built an advanced test rig, to test the software.
The UK RAF wanted a new Air Defence Fighter, and EASAMS soon had another project: Tornado ADV - the Air Defence Varient of Tornado.
During the 1970s, I had been working as a senior NATO scientist in Holland, at SHAPE Technical Centre (STC) near The Hague. There is enough on my John Maniello page about my time there, including my managing the implementation of SHEWS - the SHAPE Early Warning System. This was installed in the mid 1970s, and included touch interactive colour displays, driven by two PDP11 computers.
By 1980, we were thinking of returning home to England. Our first two daughters had been born in Holland, and we needed to think about their education. We had been lucky in buying houses: first in Holland, in Zoterwoude, and also in Sunninghill, before it was built. See AMRA and Old AMRA Pictures pages :-)
I sent my C.V. to several of the obvious companies within reach of Sunninghill, such as SDL and SSL. However, I got some good tips from AVM Paul Mallory, who was retired from the RAF, but doing some consultancy in our Air Command and Control Group at STC. He said that EASAMS, at Frimley, was the company within GEC-Marconi, earmarked for future C&C work. Also, not to send my CV to the usual Personnel Department, but to Stanley Bonser, on the GEC Marconi board. The result was my first interview being with Dennis Harris, running all the Tornado work, and the final interview was with the EASAMS board, including Howard Surtees, Mitch, Daboo, and others. Dennis told me that EASAMS had just won the UKAIR study, teamed with CSC, and - even more important to me - I would get some "Private Venture" money to spend on a PDP11 based demostrator, exploting SHEWS hardware and software, as a "door opener".
I started at EASAMS in January 1981, sharing an office with Richard Laws and Derek Hitchins, in the EASAMS premises in Park St, Camberley, over Overs. Derek and Vic Piercey were working onsite on the UKAIR Study. Park Street was home of the tri-national Tornado IDS team, with Germans, Italians, and us Brits. There was also an EASAMS office in Munich, and we inherited the Munich Beer Festival Culture: every office had a 'fridge to keep the beer at the correct temperature.
I ordered the PDP11, Genisco, Barco, and other hardware, so was given other things to do until kit arrived. The first overseas sales trip was with Dennis Harris, to Lagos Nigeria. What a week that was ! I just loved the demonstration of a Taser, by calling room service, for more beers. Click on my cartoon to enlarge - if you dare. Later trips to places like Belgium, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia were a joy, in their own way.
Some of the guys had worked on TSR2, and would look up at the framed photo of it in the hanger, and come over misty eyed. I heard how a condition of buying Phantoms and nuclear bombs from the Yanks, was to destroy technical information about TSR2. Good to see that the British Aerospace industry did recover, but how much stronger would it have been if TSR2 had gone ahead ?
After the PDP11 Computer and colour display equipment arrived, within a few weeks, I soon had the demonstrator running. The demonstrator was at Lyon Way. Howard Surtees suggested we give it a name, as a "product" and it became "EAMACS": EASAMS Architecture for Management and Control Systems. He got the GEC Press Officer, Peter Rackam, to arrange a Press Conference, which was a big success. Jane's Defence Weekly did a big splash about EAMACS. That's where I learnt how to work with the Press ;-)
The guys in my little group completed several EAMACS Projects, all within budget and on time. The first was the radar tracking system, installed at Ras Tanurah, in Saudi Arabia, supplied to ARAMCO. This took radar track data from a local radar, and one up the coast, displayed the tracks, and automastically monitored if anchored vessels strayed from their moored positions.
Another was an EAMACS demonstrator, supplied to Marconi Italiana, for deployment with the Italian Army in their military exercise area in Sardinia. We enjoyed giving some work experience to the son of one of the Marconia Italiana directors. He helped make EAMACS display in both English and Italian.
Our EAMACS demonstrators supported the much bigger C3 Project opportunities, such as Malaysia. When I was recruited, it was just the study for the design of a Government bunker. Ten years later, when the deal was closed, with the assistance of Maggie Thatcher, it was over one billion GBP. EASAMS formed "Marconi Projects", led by Dennis Harris, who by then had become EASAMS MD. The project not only included bunkers, nation wide communications, but also ships and aircraft.
ADCIS came in before Malaysia, and was 100 million pound. It's explained in my article "What is ADCIS" in the EASAMS Newsletter above. I quite like the informality, but if you want the public version, it's in ADCIS.PDF . Oh yes: that picture of a soldier operating an IDT, or "Interactive Display Terminal". That was before the actual hardware was in production. I made the case at home, from balsa wood, and sprayed in with matt green paint - good enough for a photo :-)
My artistic skills were also put to good use in cartoons such as this showing the percieved mentality of "brown jobs" defending their airspace against the "brill cream boys" that had the nerve to fly over them.
The ADCIS contract had practically been won, after years of studies and competition, due to the efforts of David Sands, working under Norman Green. David died under mysterious circumstances. (See first topic on my Grumpy page ). Norman asked me if I could become ADCIS System Design Manager, which meant the final 6 months of contract negotiation, teamed with Logica. I took advice from old mate, and rascal, Trevor Saunders . Trevor advised me that ADCIS was "in the bag" (thanks largely to him) and I was hooked.
EASAMS had bid for ADCIS based on Norden computers, and Norden raised their prices. Trevor was ready with valid quotes from Raytheon, a better and lower priced solution, without telling anyone, other than Col Colvin, of MoD. Angus, EASAMS MD by then, and Norman, were delighted when Trevor revealed his winning hand :-)
That's Trevor, typically relaxed. After Trevor left EASAMS, he got up to mischief with other Grumpy Old men, doing pioneering work with fixed wing drones and rockets. First 35mm still photography, then aerial video recce. After recce of SAMs being fired, they tested air-to-air missiles. See TAM page :-)
The main problem facing ADCIS contract negotiation was the need for clarification of what exactly the ADCIS software had to do. This was solved by my suggesting we have a Man-Machine-Interface (MMI) definition phase, involving prototyping. After EASAMS signed the ADCIS contract, it was not long before key players left MoD, and Admiral, the "Customer's Friend" to join EASAMS. e.g. Terry Wood of Admiral, and Martin Elbourne, the MoD ADCIS desk officer. These guys will have their own stories to tell, through ADCIS, Malaysia, and beyond.
from Robin: I think I took this photo from the stairs opposite, so I'm not in it - but I recognise a few of our motley ADCIS crew outside our Albany Park offices with Keith :-)
It was not all military projects at EASAMS, although guys around me helped with selling Tornados to Saudi Arabia: the Al-Yamamah contract, worth over 43 billion pounds, to be paid in barrels of oil, still the UK's biggest arms contract to date. "Al-Yamamah" means "Dove" !
"Business Meetings" around the coffee machines discussed other projects like "SAMA" - then the Saudi Arabian Monetery Agency ( now Authority ). EASAMS supplied the whole Dealing Room system, including room decoration with arabic wall clock, crpto secure satellite links to other dealing rooms around the World, and the dual PDP11 computer system, handling vast money transfers. I remember there was a delay in final sign-off and payment. Easily sorted when we discovered that it was simply some of the furniture was warped and needing replacementt :-)
I've already mentioned the EAMACS system supplied to Saudi Arabia, but EASAMS had it's fingers in many pies, around the World, often due to the Studies Division, led by John York. Also, their guys often did important work behind the scences. I recall, during the Falklands War of 1982, showing relevant maps on EAMACS. However, I also remember this: someone in Studies, working on Rapier, saw that there would be a problem in it pointing below the horizon, when perched on a hilltop, and shooting down those sneaky and heroic Argentinian pilots, flying at low level. Suitable work was done, and modified equipment sent south to go on a ship to the Falklands. Lord Arnie Weinstock made a call to Maggie Thatcher in Downing Street: he asked MoD do the contract paperwork NOW! - and it happened :-)
EASAMS Engineers played key roles in designing the new Astute class of nuclear powered hunter-killer submarines. These were designed to be both stealthy and fast. I must smile when I see the public figure of top speed, when the laws of physics say they should be capable of travelling underwater several times faster - allegedly :-)
I must say here that guys like Vic and Rod, who were assigned to my little group, had no need to discuss details of their work on underwater stuff, or at places like AWE Aldermaston . I had no "need to know", and that worked out very convenient. Over the years at EASAMS, and since, I learnt more of their interesting work, but from the personal aspect. e.g. having to search for classified papers, in the bloody remains of a car crash, after an EASAMS engineer died in an accident ( not listed in those mysterious deaths on Grumpy page ). Also projects like installing an Air Defence System in Iran, and what happened after the Shah was deposed. But they can tell their own stories if they wish :-)
I recall Lord Arnie Weinstock being poised to take over the remaining military ship making company in UK. However, it was bidding against the one he already owned, for an MoD contract. Arnie obviously waited until the contract was awarded, before making the take-over ;-)
After the first year or so of the ADCIS project, including recruiting experienced guys, and managing our System Design teams, under Keith Robinson, ADCIS Project Manager, I moved back into business development, with things like our PC based demonstrators, and "The Barossa Operation". Play the video :-)
The following is an extract taken from my very old
page, that was made public in 1995...
There was no copyright on the original video which as put together by Robin using professionals for filming, voice over and editing. It was done on a very low budget (of about £5,000 if Robin remembers correctly), and the detailed scripting before editing in the studio was done by Robin, using his VCR at home. EASAMS ceased trading many years ago, but you will see a "hard sell" near the end :-) You will also see credits to those who contributed, including equipment manufacturers and the RMCS team. Robin would also like to say thanks to his friends and work mates at EASAMS who worked with him on the field trials leading to the video.
From Robin in 2015: The above "Barossa" page was added to GPSS.co.uk in 1995. I hope you guys are all well, and you don't mind my adding this old picture below.
This picture of James (Jim) McLaren, operating our EAMACS demonstrator, will have to do for now, until I've hunted through my old 35mm photo albums from EASAMS days, to find suitable photos to scan and mis-use here.
That's Dave Broomfield on the right, who keeps all us EASAMS Old F*rts in touch :-)
The stuff above may give the wrong impression that successful EAMACS implementation projects, then ADCIS, and later Laptop PC based demonstrators, as in The Barossa Operation, dominate my memories of EASAMS.
I think that the most useful work done by our little group, particularly guys like George Ward, and Jim, was the time we spent giving demonstrations of EAMACS in UK and around the World. It certainly contributed to winning the billion pound Malaysia Contact. Although, I have it on good authority, that the "Long John Silver" dress-making skills of Mitch, while in Kuala Lumpar, probably had much more effect :-)
Those overseas trips were certainly "Interesting". e.g. our trip to Belgium, to demonstrate EAMACS at a highly secret location (then), resulted in Jim nearly being electrocuted. Those unforgetable trips to Egypt, and Saudi Arabia !
Now where are those old photos ? .... starting to be gathered ... click on them to enlarge - if you dare :-)
That EAMACS contract to supply a coastal radar tracking system to Ras Tanurah in the Gulf: Project Manager was Jim; delivered and paid for in 6 months ... Of Course ! :-)
George Ward and our large screen... EAMACS with 3D terrain model of Malaysia ... Sue Elkington and Ben Nevis in 3D ... Sue testing voice recognition before Saudi trip ...
Click to enlarge. ADCIS Party in Sunninghill; I hope the ADCIS Project paid for it !
... then John Sanders & George Ward; at Battlefield Live near Chertsey ?
Demonstrations in Riyadh: English & Arabic voice recogntion: say "Ship" or "Baghera" and it displays one. EAMACS with local maps ? Of course ! :-)
Dennis Harris and John York, at Dave Broomfield's Retirement Party, in July 2008.
Here are some more, most of whom I recognise ... at least Paul McQueen ... Terry Kensey ... Jim Cole ... Eric Horn ... Come on Guys ! Remind me ! :-)
No problem in my recognising John Doyle, second from right... Is that Derek Garett on left ? ... Why don't we wear name badges ? Sorry guys - help me :-)
Click on these pictures of Dave (Doddy) O'Dwyer: chatting up Dave Broomfield's daughter Sarah; then, from INTERFACE in 1991: Merlin Bid; collecting over 1000 GBP for Children in Need with Helen Trott; I recall these clowns breaking in to our DICS* bid room, in Albany Park, at the start of the Gulf War. Richard Hughes got to work on the Merlin Helicopter Project in Rome, and I got to check one out years later. * Desert Interim Computer System for the Desert Rats. Click on the helicopter for my Spartan Race page, with a video.
More about the DICS bid, starting with this photo found of Sandy Sclater and myself with the guys in the Barossa Operation. This was filmed not long before the first Gulf War, and I often think of these guys, hoping that they returned safely from those later tours in Iraaq and Afganistan.
I hope to find a photo or two from that time on the DICS Bid. e.g. Trevor Saunders, lighting up six fags in his mouth, when our bid team relaxed late in the evening, having done our writing and wheeler-dealing with suppliers. We had one female member. She would spend the night typing, but get away in time to take her kids to school in the morning ! My time was mostly spent making cups of coffee, or popping out to bring back take-away lunches or dinners for the team.
During that hectic week of submitting our written bid to MoD, we also had the required desert-worthy Laptop PCs up and running downstairs, ready to demonstrate. This was when Louden Keir, still in the TA, said he thought his mate might be able to swing a Herc' flight, so we could demonstrate the kit in the desert. At that time the air war was in full swing, and our troops soon ready to go into Kuwait and Iraaq.
I knew the trip would be made by Louden, Trevor, and myself. I made a 'phone call to my wife June, while we all sat around, smoking and drinking beer or coffee. The team shared that conversation with June... "June, Louden says we might take a flight, to demonstrate the kit to the guys in the desert". Her most relaxed response was, "OK - I'll find that white lightweight suit that you wore to Lagos". We all roared with laughter - obviously no concerns about hubby going into a war zone. Also, on reflection, I doubt if those "minding" us, would have taken kindly to my wearing a bright white suit ! :-)
Enough about my memories for now ....
EASAMS Get-Together in White Hart in 2016. Many Thanks to Dave Broomfield for these photos, and keeping us all in touch with one another.
I've been cautious with names here, because some people may prefer not to be associated with this page :-)
For those no longer with us, I'm sure their families will not mind. More is to be added, and probably lots of corrections to be made. I'm on firstname.lastname@example.org and 07736 353 404. Please do not hesitate to contact me.
All details are on my Contact page, if you want to come round and break my windows :-)
I'll end "off topic", since this is a public page, even though my main target audience is my old ex-EASAMS workmates.
I could not resist including this delightful video, filmed by the BBC in December 2001, and broadcast by BBC World into 200 million homes in January 2002. My neighbours just loved it, when I found it on VHS tape in February 2018 :-)
There are plenty of other TV and radio broadcasts on my AsOnTV page, from the 1990s, used to help build my GPS Software business - now a hobby. However, since 2001, I only used publicity for charitable purposes, such as www.NHSCare.info , or a bit of fun, such as Snoopy's Robot Boats :-)
I'll end with this briefing slide, from the end of my www.GPSHobby.info , in case anybody thinks I'm a "War Monger" :-)
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© 1991-2018 Robin Lovelock, Sunninghill Systems.