back to article Doctor Who and the Unsatisfactory Five Hole Tape Punch

This sentence is false... As soon as I heard about the sponsored Doctor Who-themed parties, I just knew that they would want an article on the early years of Doctor Who IT to include in the special pack. However, since nobody has actually asked me for it yet, you get first dibs. W.O.T.A.N. for Will Operating Thought ANalogue …


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  1. JeffV

    Aha! Gotcha!

    That might make the case of The Robot Receptionist In The Lobby Of The International Electromatics Building the first documented code-injection attack.

  2. gerryg

    William Hartnell - the real Doctor

    Brought back memories.

    Yes the War Machines were hopelessly flaky but it's possibly worth remembering when this series were first broadcast. The Post Office Tower had only just been built.

    (If you get this series on the BBC DVD it includes some great documentaries about the period).

    Actually my favourite episodes remain the first three series, - scaring me shitless from behind the sofa. They're available (with DSP image enhancement). Favourite lines include the Doctor's grand-daugher being in school "oh, I forgot you haven't decimalised yet" (1963 ish) - or similar, from memory.

    This used to be cutting edge science fiction. No I don't work for BBC marketing


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Cutting-Edge indeed

      Those of us who hid behind the sofa during those early episodes would surely agree.

      Before colour, wasn't it? It certainly was in our house.

      Wonderful stuff

    2. Tom 13


      I was old enough not to hide behind the sofa when I first saw it, but it was still (and is still) great stuff. I wish the Beeb would collect it like they do the current stuff and sell it at a reasonable price - $60-75US/season instead of outlandishly insisting you buy it at a rate of $25-30US/show.

      1. gerryg

        @Tom 13

        £8.49, $15-ish

      2. Anonymous Coward


        You have to remember the amount of work that goes into the re-releases. They are painstakingly restored. Dodgy 405 line film recordings restored to interlaced video, colour restored to episodes where the colour masters no longer exist, film and tape damage repaired and where original film sequences exist they are re-transfered using modern technology for hugely enhanced resolution.

        Not to mention the excellent documentaries that accompany each DVD.

        And in anycase, if you are patient most releases can be picked up for as little as a six quid from Amazon if you can wait a year or so.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    The Cybermen have a problem with breathing gold, so as long as the bluetooth sets werent dusted with the stuff, the planetary upgrade should have gone without a hitch.

    Sadly, they were hosting their control systems on the MS Cloud, which crashed and caused so many delays, the Cybermen gave up and went back to stealing metal signposts and drain covers in their attempt at world domination.

    1. Wize

      Must by why all the audiophiles have gold connectors.

      They want make sure they have something to stop a cyberman just by jacking him up.

    2. daviduk

      Wrong Cybermen

      The Cybermen with the gold problems came from Mondos - not Rose's parallel earth.

  4. Perpetual Cyclist
    Big Brother

    My father worked on a little known very early computer in the early 1950s whilst in the MOD. He designed a punch tape reader for it, using compressed air. Needless to say, it didn't catch on... He did use it for early neural net and image recognition experiments, I have seen the report, dated 1954. Vertical reel to reel tape drives were still employed by the MOD in the 1980s. My hippy brother got his locks trapped in one, and had to be cut free. The drive was wrecked.

    Yes, the MOD did employ hippies ... he is still there

  5. TRT Silver badge



    The BOSS operator's console was also used to control a moon-base and a fleet of space interceptors which defended the Earth against organ-stealing green skinned alien invaders around 1980. The voice-interfaced and largely autonomous Space Intruder Detector satellite was much superior to all of these Dr Who efforts, and could even give Siri a run for its money.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Those uniforms!

      That ass!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      just a decade out

      UFO was made in ~1970

      Proof of set reuse:

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      The BOSS computer, even then, had started work on the Virgin Logo, and already had a pretty clear concept presentation, as can be seen in the photo.

    4. TRT Silver badge

      UFO made in 1969/70, set in 1980.

  6. David 66
    Thumb Up

    The world just wasn't ready for its first gay CPU

    A new keyboard, please.

  7. Keith 21

    LDIR - get it right!

    " LDIR instruction (LoaD Indirect Repeat"

    Point of order, LDIR was Load INCREMENT Repeat, not INDIRECT!

    The counterpart to LDDR, LoaD Decrement Repeat.

    On account of LDIR being the equivalent of

    do {

    *DE = *HL;




    } while (BC != 0)

    and LDDR being the equivalent of

    do {

    *DE = *HL;




    } while (BC != 0)

  8. jake Silver badge

    Isn't it a little early in the week to be drinking, Stob?

    Just asking ... Regardless, this round of coffee's on me :-)

  9. Antti Roppola


    Plus the Tom Baker Prime adverts we got here in .au

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Saw those a while back

      they were on 'More Than 30 Years In The TARDIS'...

      What I want to know is if those are part of the Doctor Who Canon- that'd mean the Doctor's married to Romana! She ended up in E-Space, didn't she? That'd make a fantastic twist for the new Doctor Who series- not only was he a grandfather once, but he also got married in the 80s, had a fun wedding night- and then she left to raise the kids.

      1. Grease Monkey Silver badge

        Well Tom was married to Lalla wasn't he?

  10. Norm DePlume

    Logopolis was huge

    I'm not surprised a die size reduction was attempted.

    1. TRT Silver badge
      Paris Hilton


      All this talk of Leela and Vikki and the like... I'm going to have to pop off for a quick Jodrell.

      1. PT
        Paris Hilton

        Strange, I didn't see Leela mentioned anywhere except in your comment.

        Thanks for the memory, though!

    2. TRT Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Yeah, sorry...

      got distracted by trying to make a gag about Jodrell Bank and my memory got backfilled, understandably, with various thoughts of the Doctor's female (and one male) assistant. Of course, my absolute favourite assistant of all time ever has to be Sarah-Jane. I miss her!

      *goes misty eyed*

      Of course, there's tons of BBC Sci-Fi tech that El Reg could comment on... I mean, Blake's 7 with Zen (just so cool!), Orac and Slave, Tripods, erm... help me out here.

  11. lawndart


    The Robot Receptionist has another function to augment its role; it is clearly an early attempt at a Cyber-Pachinko machine.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    And Block Transfer Mathematics.

    Full story here, for the uninitiated:

    And its actually very interesting.

    1. DZ-Jay

      Block Transfer Computations

      Sound like bit-blitting!

  13. Martin Yirrell

    Gotcha 2

    "I/O: Teletype, 110 cps ie, "faster than Polly""

    Actually it was a Creed Teleprinter, probably a GPO Tele 7 in a sound reducing cover, 50Baud. Polly must have been an incredibly slow typist.

    Many a happy hour maintaining those.

  14. Dan 55 Silver badge

    "The sort of thing one only usually sees when testing Comp Sci graduates during job interviews"

    Hell no, I get to implement designs like that all the time.

  15. chizz
    Thumb Up

    "Ho yus!"

    loved that!

  16. Mr Larrington


    "creations which are visually the product of the union of a commercial-size chest freezer and Metal Mickey."

    Verity, dear heart, I require a new keyboard.

    Mr Larrington

    The Tower of Barad-Dûr


  17. The Fuzzy Wotnot


    You know how it works in early sci-fi, the more tape reels and the more flashing lights you have, the more important and psychotic the machine! It also needs an ominous teleprinter to build suspense! Voice synths simply spoil the mood but a slow, grinding tele-printer scrolling up words such as, "M A N I S S L A V E. A R M A G E D D O N C O M M E N C I N G." really gets the mood going!

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