Multics > Sites
10 Jun 2005

Site History: RAE

History | People | Library | Sites | About


Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough, Hampshire, England

First Installed



4 DPS 8/70M CPUs

The Benchmark and the Sale

[Deryk Barker] The Multics system was used as a frontend to a 2nd-hand Cray 1. The software for this was developed in a joint effort by teams in the US, the UK and France. Communication between the teams was done via email and forum (or this may have been Mike Auerbach's earlier version, called continuum). As this was in the early 1980s this must have been an early example of such geographically disparate development.

In order to fulfill the requirements of the procurement we had to rerun the benchmark which had been done in Phoenix. Except, IIRCm the benchmark had been done on a 6 CPU Level 68 system and we had 4 8/70Ms. I seem to recall we hit a problem with a limitation on the size of the system trailer segment (or was it a code bug?) which kept crashing the benchmark as it hit its peak load.

Honeywell Folks

Sales team: Mike Auerbach, Warren Johnson, Neil Aldred, Norman Beazant.

Site Analysts: Deryk Barker, John Churchhouse, Stan Johnson, Bob Smith, Mike Garner.

Branch manager: Paul Brennand. Account manager: Iain Holden.

RAE Folks

Notable developments

This was the first site in the UK to run MLS (MultiLevel Secure), thanks to the B2 certification.


[Deryk Barker] I have just come across my 1984 Honeywell diary with one or two handy dates:

[Deryk Barker] I constructed and ran the tests to demonstrate the security features (and that they worked).

Warren was the Cray front end man. I do recall there were two physical ports connecting the Multics system to the cray.

One of them - obviously - was named 'cray' (was there a 4-character limit?) After a certain amount of cogitation I named the other 'cmor'.

I shan't embarrass those members of the team who had to have this explained to them, by naming them here....

The systems were located in a purpose-built, Tempested computer building.

[Paul Smee] Shortly after RAE got their Multics, they asked AUCC for a bit of assistance (I don't recall why), and Neil Davies and I were selected to go to their site for a couple of days.

RAE Farnborough was one of the most-secure sites of the British military establishment. We were both security-checked, me probably more so since I was a US national. (Neil is Welsh.)

We passed. So showed up at the gatehouse on the first day, where we had to sign in. In the 'nationality' column, I put US, and Neil put UK. We both were given visitor badges (to be worn while on site), but mine had the extra admonition, in large letters, 'MUST BE ACCOMPANIED AT ALL TIMES'.

The next day we had to sign in again. Again, I entered my nationality as US. Neil noticed that the fellow before me had signed in as nationality 'English'. This annoyed him, so he signed in as 'Welsh'. And that day, both our badges said 'MUST BE ACCOMPANIED AT ALL TIMES'.

Final Shutdown

[Tony Hill] I see that you that you have a final shutdown for Multics at Farnborough as 1987 actually you might be surprised to discover that it was taken down in early to mid 1991. However by the time it was taken down the RAE had merged with 3 other principal research establishments and was known as DRA (Defence Research Agency).

Information from Deryk Barker, Paul Smee, Tony Hill.