About Me

United Kingdom
Presenting some of LIFE's ODDITIES and plenty of RANDOM JOTTINGS


Monday, 23 May 2011

Emigrating to Australia in the 1890's (A letter to his Mother)

Dear Mother An emigrant writes to his Mother

                                                 Bald Rock
                                           October 16th 1890

Dear Mother,
I trust these few lines will meet yourself, brothers and sisters in the enjoyment of the very best of health.

Dear Mother, as far as myself is concerned I am enjoying very good health, the last time I weighed on the scales I was twelve stone two pounds, I like this country very much.

Dear Mother, I am working with a farmer Mr Newton by name, he is an English man.  I am working about 4 miles from Mrs Ferris place and about sixty miles from a town called Sandhurst.

Dear Mother, Friends are all very well until you know them but in this country A Man’s pocket is his best friend.  Mrs Ferris told me that Tom was in New Zealand and now she tells me that he is in Africa, but I do not believe her, it appears to me that she do not want me to know where he is, she told me one thing one time and then told me another thing so I can not think she is telling me truth.

Dear Mother, the farms in this part of the country is very large, the houses are from one to two miles apart and there is not much fear of a person hurting himself coming down stairs as the houses are all but one storey high. The houses about here are all made of weather boards with iron roof and brick chimneys but in the towns they are different as there are some very good buildings as good as any buildings in the towns in England.
The farmer I am with had a brick chimney built the other day and he had to pay the brick layers three pounds for building it with regard to this place in the summer it is as hot as Albert said it was before breakfast so I leave you to guess what it was before dinner.

Dear Mother, this is a very good country for the working man this is the place to take the wrinkles out of a man’s belly, the food is very good, meat three times a day, there is as good sheep and bullocks out here as there is in England.

It will be a good place for you Mother to come when you retire and if you should think one place too hot you could go to another where you would find it cold enough, climate varies very much out here. The farmer kills all his own sheep up here, the butcher’s shop is just a pair of blocks and a tree to pull them up. When they kill a bullock one farmer takes one half and one the other. The harvest commences up here about the middle of November, there is plenty of game out here, the hares are nearly as bad as the rabbits, they shoot them and let them lay there as they would not take trouble to pick them up.

Dear Mother,  If I can I will send you a Possum’s skin rug soon that will make up for the one I lost, you will have to look out that it don’t get lost as the other one did as I will try to send you a good one.

Dear Sisters, I will send you them feathers as soon as I can save money enough to do so. I am expecting to knock out two pounds per week and my tucker at the harvest.
I would like to know how Charlie is getting on with his goats tell Percy I will send him some seeds I will try and send them by next Spring.

I hope Albert is getting on well at school for if a chap is a scholar he can make his way in the world, I hope Arthur is getting on better than I was for you but if I was home now I think I would have more sense as knocking about earns a man since a man gets six and seven pence per hour and tucker, I think I will try it at harvest, they work 14 hours a day, how would they like that in England?  Men can shear 160 sheep a day in this country.

Dear Mother, we were seven weeks coming out, we were seventeen days from the time we see one vessel or ship until we see another, nothing in between but sky and water. The jolly old ship rolled about fearfully nearly throwing us out of our bunks and the seas rolling mountains high when she would roll over one swell you would not think she would even come up again. She was shipping seas dreadful, I thought one night that I should never see Australia, we had a German doctor on board and he could speak not one word of the English language we had to get an interpreter, another German to explain to the doctor when we wanted anything from him and he was nearly as bad as the doctor at English.  She was fitted with electric lights but we only had it the first night leaving Antwerp and the night we got to Adelaide it was shut off all the other time we were on the voyage.

(disjointed afterthoughts)
(I have started to learn shearing and the boss said it was very good he said he could not do it half as well when he started)

When we were coming out we sighted the coast of India also the coast of Africa but she did not call at any of these places,the Mediterranean was nearly as rough as the Bay of Biscay in fact we had a rough voyage altogether, the sea was rough and the food rougher I broke some of my teeth trying to eat the hard biscuits. I have heard you say you would like to see a rough sea Mother, but if you were on board that vessel you would see it rough enough and no back door to get away from it.
So now Dear Mother I will conclude for this time with fondest love to you my Dear Mother, also my best love to my Brothers and Sisters.
From your loving Son
                                      Henry E Stewart.

Address your next letter in care of Robert Newton
                                     BALD ROCK  P.O

The above is exactly as the original letter was penned, though I did add the odd comma some places, also some spelling corrections, the facts are as portrayed. Typical of an English emigrants experiences in the 1890’s it seems. Note specially the promise to send fur, feathers and seeds, try that today!

Penned by my Great Uncle Henry to his Mother,  Fanny Stewart in England . Fanny died at 80 years of age in 1918, Henry survived until 68 when he died in 1932 he was a prosperous land owner. He had four sisters and five brothers, a goodly size family for  that period, all survived well into 60’s except for Ernest who suffered infant mortality and died at 1 year.

Letter No 2

                                                                               Bald Rock
                                    November 24th 1890

Dear Mother,

I trust these few lines will meet yourself and my Brothers and Sisters in the enjoyment of the best of health.

As far as I am concerned I am in good health and getting on alright so far and intend to get on in the World if I can, believe me it will be no fault of mine if I don’t as I have a little more sense now than I had when I was in England. There is nothing to make a mans sense like knocking about.

Dear Mother, I am sending by same post as this letter, four feathers for my Sister’s hats, three white ones and one salmon coloured, I would have sent you one but there were no more in the store where I got them.

Dear Mother, I had a letter from Albert Owens about three weeks ago, he is still in the same place but he says he will go back to Sydney, when I saw him he did not look so well as he did when he was in England.

I forgot to tell you in my last letter that I saw Mr Knight’s brother in Adelaide when I landed, he is in a grocery shop working. I mean Mr Knight’s brother of the Railway Inn.

With regard to Tom Bennett  I was in the next township to where I am working last week and there is a man living there that knows Tom well and he told me that he was pretty well sure that Tom is in Sandhurst, he says that he was there a very short time ago and he thinks he is there yet.

Dear Mother, I wish to inform you that there is a plague of grasshoppers in this part of the colony at the present time, they are eating all the grass and everything in the gardens, they eat the leaves off the fruit trees and grape vines, they are a great pest they have wings out here and fly about.

The harvest is just starting out here, my employer has some of his oats cut, you will think it strange when I tell you that the farmers out here cut both wheat and oats for hay, there is no grass cut here for hay same as at home.

Dear Mother, I would like to know if any of my Brothers and Sisters are thinking of getting married yet, my word if some of my Sisters were out here with their good looks they would soon get husbands with plenty of money.

I am thinking of getting married myself very soon as I think I would be better married as there are some good chances before my eyes if I like to take them, there is some ladies I can get with plenty of money and land, so I think I will take one of them soon.

Dear Mother, I would advise you to give my Brothers a good trade of some sort as it do not matter what part of the World a man goes to he can get on well, tradesmen out here are dressed like gentlemen at home, so give my Brothers a trade it will be for their good.

My Dear Mother, I wish that I had sense enough when I was home to have learned a trade it is now that I would find the benefit of it.

Dear Mother, the young woman milk the cows in this part there was two young women in the yard helping me to milk last night. I have had three different employers since I came out here but this is the best man of the three.

My Dear Mother, give my best love to my Brothers and Sisters. Arthur, Percy, Charley and Albert. My Sisters Laura, Isabel,. Amy, Bertha tell them both you my Dear Mother and Brothers and Sisters are always in my thoughts, you are my last thoughts at night and my first thoughts in the morning.

Tell Bertha that I will send her a flower in my next letter or I will send some with the feathers now.

Dear Mother, I will send you that Possum skin as soon as ever I can I have not forgotten it.

I will conclude for this time Dear Mother with fond love to you Dear Mother, Brothers and Sisters trusting that this will meet you all in the enjoyment of the best of health.

                                  Henry E Stewart
Address as before care of Mr Robert Newton
                                  Bald Rock P.O

Sadly there are no more letters in the archive, we were lucky that these two got preserved due to the good organisation of one of my Great Aunts and her offspring. There is also scant record of the ship that carried my great Uncle to Adelaide from Southampton, via Antwerp, although there are passenger lists of many ships from 1820 up to about 1886, records from that year on and up to early 20th century seen to be missing, research reveals that during the wars in that period there were fewer actual voyages made, I always assumed that there were more pressing things to do in life, like signing up for war. Certainly many shipping records of voyages from Germany were destroyed in the 1914-1918 period.

These dated letters give little hint that the 1890's saw the begining of one of the worse depressions in Australia's history. 1890 saw the maritime strike (another reason why the shipping records of that period are sparse). This was followed by the strike of the sheep shearers in 1891 and the beginings of the problems in the banking industry that resulted in the collapse of a number of the smaller banks. 1892 lead into the Broken hill strike and later into the collapse of many companies, specially in the Victoria area. 1893 the depression spread internationally, triggering the Federal Bank collapses. By 1894 and with new regulations and law reforms, the worse of the crisis was over. So began the process of recovery.  Not the best of times for an unskilled emigrant trying to find his way in the "country of opportunity" . 

I have managed to find entries for one Henry Erwin Stewart in the early 20th century electoral roles for Victoria and I have a record of his death recorded for 1932, one year after the last recorded electoral roll..

If anyone comes across these entries, recognises any family names, has any information that might be relevant I would like to hear from them, please post a comment here.

Monday, 21 March 2011

OLD COMPUTERS that I have owned

Over the years I have owned or had in my care many of the early model computers, from simple, little more than calculators right up to full blown serious business computers.
I cannot guarantee this will be correct chronologically because many of them arrived here as repairs for other people
some of them stayed (I was hooked) it is these that I will describe in a little more detail.

 This was one of the first home constructed personal computers that used the popular Z80 processor chip.
It first appeared in 1978 as a very crude attempt at getting enthusiasts of the up and coming computer hobby to build their own. This was a pretty basic machine, but with advanced features that showed great promise for future developments. The basic model had just 1K (1024 bytes) of actually usable memory to store programs, a 48 character by 16 line monochrome screen that displayed on an ordinary domestic TV receiver by using a low power TV transmitter on the printed circuit board. It had it's own special keyboard that connected to the main computer board by a ribbon cable.
Program loading and recording was to a conventional cassette tape recorder this was very slow, prone to all kinds of problems with bad tapes and generally very unreliable, but it was a start, you could if you were lucky manage to save the program you has taken hours to type in byte by byte, and get it to work again without re-typing it all.

My first Nascom arrived by way of a friend that repaired these things for people that had taken on the project of building one themselves and not quiet got it right?

(There were quite a few of these)

There was a point where to get a badly built one going would cost more that making a new one, so the inevitable happened, we were left with the dead-ones!

(This was a challenge for me on a hobby basis)  

I had been studying logic design for a few years and attained a reasonable understanding of how to design a logic controller, so the step to repairing a faulty one was relatively simple, only problem was learning to think  differently about the solution and adopt the software idea instead of the previously well understood hardware one.

Fortunately the Nascom had a very comprehensive monitor program built in that did all the set up at "boot" time, provided the CPU was connected correctly to the RAM and ROM the rest of the hardware could be de-bugged with simple logic probes an oscilloscope and a test meter.

Most of the faults were due to bad soldering, too little,
too much,  so a visual inspection often revealed these faults. Then there were the chips in the wrong sockets, or sometimes in the right sockets but the wrong way around, these were easily detected both by visual and blistered finger methods (reversed power made them HOT, very).

In the end, many boards were repaired successfully and inevitably the odd unwanted one stayed...

Almost overnight I had turned from a logic engineer to a software engineer.  Taming the beast was quite a struggle at the beginning, to get any program loaded first off, one had to type in the Op-codes one by one so one needed to learn them and what they could do,  much manual and specification sheet reading was required.

To the newbie these things were quite daunting, so much to remember, but where to start?

Nascom 1 (picture from www.binarydinosaurs.co.uk/Museum/Nascom/)

All micro processors use registers to store instructions, these may be discrete registers, or they may be in RAM (external memory) the Z80 has the following registers.

A  single 8 bit register for all arithmetic and logical work
F (Flag) register stored results of operations in A
B most significant byte of 16 bit pair BC
C least significant byte of 16 bit pair BC
D most significant byte of 16 bit pair DE
E least significant byte of 16 bit pair DE
H most significant byte of 16 bit pair HL
L least significant byte of 16 bit pair HL
IX first 16 bit Index pointer,  IY second 16 bit Index pointer
  I special 8 bit register used for INTERRUPT control
Finally two special function registers 
SP is the Stack Pointer, used to address an area of memory in the system memory map for use as a temporary store.
PC is the Program Counter, this is not directly addressable by the computer user,  it's value is controlled by the code in a program and follows the code position in a program, on an instruction by instruction basis, being set to Zero by a hardware Reset.   

Operations on registers
8 bit (single byte) loads can be performed on 
all registers A-L with a 2 byte instruction
<register code><byte value>
16 bit (single word) loads can be performed on
Registers BC,DE, HL & SP
<register pair code><word low><word high>
and on IX or IY with <DD/FD><21><word low><word high>
All the instruction codes that apply to HL can be used on the Index pair IX & IY by adding the prefix byte DD or FD

8 bit (single byte) loads only apply to A register
in the 3 byte form <3A><word low><word high>
in this form the A register is loaded with the byte 
at the address in memory at <high><low>
8 bit (single byte) stores apply to A register only
in the 3 byte form <32><word low>word high>
in this form the A registers contents are placed
at the address in memory <high><low>

Here was one of the FIRST confusions for the beginner the addressing of the memory location or 16 bit value 
to be used is reversed from the conventional 
as written thinking.
16 bit (single word) loads apply to register HL (only)
in the form <2A><word low><word high>
16 bit (single word) stores apply to HL (only)
in the form <22><word low><word high> 
16 bit (single word) loads apply to BC, DE & SP in the 
four byte form <ED><reg LD code><word low><word high>

16 bit (single word) stores apply to BC, DE & SP in the 
four byte form <ED><reg STO code><word low><word high>
So the Program Counter (PC) will increment after each instruction by the length of that instruction 
(1,2,3 or 4 steps)

Thursday, 3 February 2011

The Bygone days of WIRELESS 1925 et al

Digging out some family artifacts, I discovered some interesting photographs of early Wireless equipment
This is marked up as a STIRLING BR1c
it was obviously a top of the range fashionable article.

This one is labled BTH (Probably British Thomson-Houston)
again from the same period (Circa 1925)

An advertising brochure of the time extolled the virtues of the "DE3" electric valve

Examples of all the Wireless's above were seen at the first wireless exhibition.

Note the stand at the far end was a famous capacitor (condenser) manufacturer "DUBILIER"
Still active in 2011

In 1925 the licence to operate wireless equipment in the British Isles cost 10/- (50p) quite a considerable sum at the time, so wireless tended to be an entertainment system for the well-to-do initially.

Amazingly this fee stayed the same right up to 1946 though no licences were issued from 1939 to 1945, the first one to be issued immediately after WW2 was still 10/-
However the 1947 licence was raised to 20/- (1 Pound) and caused quite a howl of protest as at that time the wireless was a key factor in family information and entertainment  as it had been throughout the war years.

1922 Wireless licence (10/-)
(I removed the registered name)

Production of Wireless's really got into swing in the post war recovery years with Radio manufacturers that supported  the war effort producing communication radios, Radar etc diversifying back to producing an amazing array of different models for the growing domestic market.

Many of these benefited from the technical advances brought about by the war effort, valves produced in their millions could be pressed into use for more mundane domestic receivers, giving superior performance to many used in pre-war wireless equipment.

This was the post war heyday of the Wireless
but television was soon to re-appear and eventually attract many of the wireless listeners over to the 
"Moving picture Box" 

In most cases (only 1 in 100 homes had TV then) 
 this usually consisted of a tiny 9" screen (22cm)
some with liquid filled magnifying lenses
to bring the size up to about a foot (30cm).

The first post-war TV receivers were single channel 
(45Mc/s) tuned to Alexandra Palace in north London,
later models had extra channels for use in the provincial
City's and towns as the regional TV transmitters 
were installed.

The single channel TV receivers used the "TRF" principal 
(Tuned Radio Frequency)
Here all the tuned stages were at signal frequency
no conversion as in the more modern receivers.

Valves developed for war-time radar served ideally
for the early TV (Band 1) frequencies, the famous
EF50 a metal encased glass valve being used
in most of the radio frequency stages.

The B9G based EF50 valve
Picture courtesy of "tubecollector"
(follow up HERE

Please note.  All the pictures presented here are copyrighted to me and are the property 
of my family archive, you may click on them to enlarge them, save them to your own computer 
device for use but Please if you use them for your own purposes in any publication,
 leave me a comment out of courtesy.
If you have a serious archival or reference use in any technical or historical work that 
deals with wireless, I can provide on request the full unedited high resolution versions 
of the original prints.
 (You may notice the copyright logo, this is my amateur radio callsign)

Monday, 31 January 2011


Your problems solved NOW
No more excuses

Millenium Y 2 K it all happened before you know? 2000 Years ago

Let me whisk you all back 2000 odd years
lets take a peek into a Roman officer's intray
we might well have read something like 

Imperial Palace, Rome
January 18, 1 B.C.

Dear Cassius,

Are you still working on the Y zero K problem? This change from BC to
AD is giving us a lot of headaches and we haven't much time left. I
don't know how people will cope with working the wrong way around.
Having been working happily downwards forever, now we have to start
thinking upwards.  You would think that someone would have thought of
it earlier and not left it to us to sort out at the last minute.

I spoke to Emperor Augustus the other evening. He was livid that
Julius hadn't done something about it when he was sorting out the
calendar.  He said he could see why Brutus turned nasty.  We called in
the consulting astrologers, but they simply said that continuing
downwards using minus BC won't work. As usual, the consultants charged
a fortune for doing nothing useful.  As for myself, I just can't see
the sand in an hourglass flowing upwards.
We have heard that there are 3 wise guys in the east working on the
problem, but unfortunately they won't arrive till it's all over. Some
say the world will cease to exist at the moment of transition.  Anyway
we are continuing to work on this blasted Y zero K problem and I will
send you a parchment if anything further develops.



T H O U G H T S and T H I N K I N G


   Psychoanalysis, which is easier to understand than to 
spell, tells us what we really think when we think we think a thing. 
Without psychoanalysis we should never know that when
we think a thing, the thing we think we think is
not the thing we think we think, but only the thing that 
makes us think we think the thing we think we think.

   It is all a question of the Unconscious. The Unconscious 
enables us to think we are thinking about the thing 
we think we want to think about, while all the time the
thing we really want to think about is being thought about
unconsciously by the Unconscious.

   The Unconscious is a survival from our barbaric ancestry 
and has no manners.

   As the the sort of thing the Unconscious thinks about is 
not the sort of thing we care to think about, the 
Unconscious takes care not to let us think it is thinking about 
what it is thinking about. If we are in danger of thinking
that we are thinking about what we are really thinking 
about, the thing we are thinking about is sublimated 
into something we don't mind thinking we are
thinking about.

   Actually the Unconscious is divided into parts: the part 
that thinks the thing, and the part that prevents our 
thinking we are thinking the thing.
This preventing of our thinking we are thinking the thing 
we do not care to think we are thinking is called Repression.

   Repression is due to the Super-Ego, which is very genteel.

   There is friction between the Super-Ego and the Coarse part 
of the Un-conscious, or the Id. The Id thinks a thing that the 
Super-Ego thinks it ought not to think, and the Super-Ego 
represses the thing the Id thinks, so that we never think we 
think it. But unless the Id thinks we are thinking it, the Id becomes 
dissatisfied and causes trouble.

   As the Id thinks we can only think we are thinking the 
sort of thing the Super-Ego thinks we ought to think, we 
have to make the Id think we are thinking the thing Id 
thinks, by thinking we are thinking something that is
something like the thing the Id is thinking. If we can fool 
the Id we are all right. If not, there is no thinking 
what we may be thinking.

   It comes, then, to this: The things to think we think are 
the things that the Super-Ego thinks are the things to 
think, and that the Id thinks are the
things {it} thinks.

  I think that's perfectly clear.


Pondering on the FUTURE: Year 2000 Plus Y2K etc What happened?

Some reflections 17 years ago (6 Years Prior to Y2K)

Well its been over 2000 years since the Romans offered
us the I, II, III, IV etc, but as you all know these forms 
of numerical indentity do not easily "parse" in computer terms
so, taking this into consideration, I have designed
an easy solution to the problem, which I intend to offer to 
the European union the Esperanto society 
and any other sensible? body.

Let me outline the changes I am proposing to avoid confusion in the numbers game.

Starting from NOTHING, so its easy for computer programmers to understand we get ...

 0       1       2       3       4       5      6      7       8       9

You will of course notice that each has 3 characters only, this makes the
computer tables much easier to organise for example in a calender.

Now we come to the more complicated business of larger numbers, no longer will the teens be alone, they will take their place like the rest of the TEN's in the 20's, 30,s etc, so you will get statements like 

WONTZEO = TEN     or using the alternate form  TEN
                    through to-                       



I'm sure you are begining to see how much easier it will all be for young people when they first get introduced to numbers, and especially for computer programers who have far less data TYPES to consider.

Right, where do we go from here then ? well next comes the bigger units like

HUN, THO, MIL etc, all again three characters so easier to spell and understand
for the computer programmer!

Again the construction is simple and easy understood by computer programmers.


Going on to ..

I'm sure we all appreciate that !

Please read this bulletin and make sure you learn its message NOW as after
1996 that could be the way we will ALL have to write ... If the EUrocrats
have their say...Yes even computer programmers will have to learn to count.

This was written in 1994 in advance of the impending threat of major changes to be brought in the 1996 European summit


Strangeness in the English Language

                   Why English is such an Obtuse language

        Let's face it-English is a crazy language.

        There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger;
        neither apple nor pine in pineapple.

        English muffins weren't invented in England or French fries
        in France.

        Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet,
        are meat.

        We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes,
        we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square
        and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

        And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers
        don't groce and hammers don't ham? If the plural of tooth is
        teeth, why isn't the plural of booth beeth? One goose, 2 geese.
        So one moose, 2 meese? One index 2 indices?

        Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend,
        that you comb through annals of history but not a single annal? If
        you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of
        them, what do you call it?

        If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught? If a vegetarian
        eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat? If you wrote a
        letter, perhaps you bote your tongue?

        Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to
        an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people
        recite at a play and play at a recital? Ship by truck and send
        cargo by ship?  Have noses that run and feet that smell? Park on
        driveways and drive on parkways?

        How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise
        man and a wise guy are opposites? How can overlook and oversee be
        opposites, while quite a lot and quite a few are alike?

        How can the weather be hot as hell one day and cold as hell another?

        Have you noticed that we talk about certain things only when they
        are absent? Have you ever seen a horseful carriage or a strapful
        gown? Met a sung hero or experienced requited love? Have you ever
        run into someone who was combobulated, gruntled, ruly or peccable?
        And where are all those people who ARE spring chickens or who would
        ACTUALLY hurt a fly?

        You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which
        your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form
        by filling it out and in which an alarm goes off by going on.

        English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the
        creativity of the human race (which, of course, isn't a race at all).

        That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the
        lights are out, they are invisible. And why, when I wind up my watch,
        I start it, but when I wind up this essay, I end it.