Tech guru Ian Ritchie has penned a book about his time working with ICL in Dalkeith, and then setting up the hypertext pioneers, Office Workstations Limited (OWL).

In the 1980s British-owned ICL was one of the then-fabled Seven Dwarfs of computing, along with Honeywell, Burroughs, Univac, NCR, RCA and General Electric, while IBM was Snow White.

Ritchie’s biographical story The Web Before The Web is a fascinating history of a Scottish contribution to the World Wide Web. 

He reveals that on Fridays the ICL boffins from the UK’s leading computing company would decamp to the Greyhound Bar in Dalkeith and down four pints at lunchtime before returning to write code.

Ian ponders about the quality of the Scottish software written on Friday afternoons. Is it any wonder the UK never managed to create an IBM or an Apple?

Case of mistaken identity?

An Edinburgh locksmith also sells vintage suitcases and second-hand leather luggage as a sideline. Recently, he had a monogrammed crocodile skin handbag from the late 1940s in his Southside window.

A student passing on her way to lectures dropped in to ask how much it was. “It’s £300,” said the locksmith. She started to barter. “I’ll give you £200 and that’s all.” Our wily locksmith replied: “Can you read the monogram on the side?” 

“JR,” replied the student. “Well, the reason it’s £300 is we believe it belonged to JK Rowling.” A neat pile of £20 notes was proffered, and a delighted student left with her new purchase.