In message <jn4o3iF...@mid.individual.net
>, at 21:06:58 on Mon, 29
Aug 2022, Bob Eager <news...@eager.cx
"When the University of Kent's ICL 2960 mainframe was installed, it
came with a site engineer."
ICL had a two-tier scheme, with each site engineer being trained in the
general maintenance of the whole computer, plus specialist in one of
about six different sub-systems. Their job was to isolate which
sub-system was causing a problem, and if possible do a board-swap. Or
failing that, after 20 minutes call in the nearest (geographically)
expert engineer to assist. [Plus keeping a whole bookshelf of ring-bound
manuals up to date, and applying both routine hardware and software
patches, which arrived almost daily; plus some mechanical items like
line-printers and tape drives had a regular maintenance schedule].
The biggest sites had three shifts of multiple engineers, and spare
parts were flown around Europe at a moment's notice.
Everything except the OCP was standard across the range, although not
every site had one of everything (eg a drum - which was actually a very
large disc, and at the time the Comms Controller for remote access by
teletype wasn't very commonplace).
During 1977/78 I worked at the ICL training school in Letchworth as one
of two or three lecturers giving the "general" training course, which
was about eight weeks residential. There were other lecturers doing the
shorter expert courses, and I shadowed the one giving 2980 OCP (the most
complex of all the sub-systems).
We had one of everything to play with, and often got the feeling the
salesmen would rather ship them to customers. But that general course
was the critical path, because they couldn't hand over a new
installation until there was a site engineer available, and that
was where the shortage was, not in the factory or indeed customers
thrusting money at the company.
One of the drivers for the newly introduced baby of the range - the
2950, was that it might be simple/reliable enough that it didn't
actually need full-time site engineers.