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Tuesday, June 3, 2008


It is widely suggested that computers improve efficiency.

Lovers of vintage chaos might remember the computer installed in 1975 by Avon County Council to pay staff wages.

The computer's spree started off in a small way, paying a school caretaker 75 pounds an hour instead of 75 pence.

Then it got ambitious and did not pay a canteen worker at all for seven weeks. Before long it got positively confident and paid a janitor 2,600 for a weeks work.

He sent it back and received another for the same amount by return post.

There was now no stopping it.

A deputy headmistress received her year's annual salary once a month; heads of department earned less than their assistants, and some people had more tax deducted in a week than they earned in a year.

In February 1975 two hundred and eighty employees on the council payroll attended a protest meeting. Of these only eight had been paid the correct salary. They all went on strike.

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