Horizon (1978)

1. Now the Chips are Down

BBC 2 Series 1 Episode 1
First broadcast 31st March 1978, 22:15
Duration: 01:18:53
Run software from this programme (1 program)
A machine that can read aloud; a driverless tractor; a production line without humans; a warehouse that needs no staff. Science-fiction fantasies that have already arrived! The reason is a i-inch square chip of silicon called a microprocessor. For less than E5 it can do the same job as the giant computer of a few years ago. Programmed and linked together, they promise a future that is both sensational and frightening. Offices, shops and factories are already being made more productive in a way that will cost millions of jobs. Now the chips are down, what are we going to do about it? Must we accept the widespread unemployment to come? Can we survive if we don't? Above all, why is nobody talking about it? Narrator: PAUL VAUGHAN Film editor: TED WALTER Editor: SIMON CAMPBELL-JONES Written and produced by: EDWARD GOLDWYN

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Clips from this programme

Opening Titles

Duration: 00:10

Machine reading a book to a blind man, speech control of wheelchair: Possible due to silicon chips

Duration: 01:58

Silicon chips making computers 1000 times cheaper via the microprocessor (Electron Microscope view of a working chip), Japan abandons ship building for chips,

Duration: 01:08

From Valve, through the transistor - Japan were quick to setup transistor factories ( then (1947) Shockley, Stanford University, germanium to silicon chips (for defence), to Fairchild and their spin offs to Silicon Valley and Robert Noyce. (1957-1 transistor, 1963-8 transistors, 250.000 (on a chip) in 1978) for the £5 computer - A need for guided missiles

Duration: 03:42

The boom, San Francisco and the early days of Silicon Valley

Duration: 01:15

A computer on a chip - Robert Noyce: Chip Manufacture: Manual entry of layout of the chip to PC for checking, to a mask of 200 per slice, clean rooms, doping via photographic emulsion mask, etching, repeated for each layer (3 days in total per wafer), then tested for .25 s (most failing 25% good ones is a good result!), shipped to be mounted in the Far East (Taiwan), gold wire welding

Duration: 08:50

Comparison of the chip size with human brain size, and replacing nervous tissue with silicon parts (Stanford artificial ear)

Duration: 03:55

Dramatic effects in all products (e.g. calculators now with fierce competition only 2 manufacturers left, & watches), video games, Life will be different

Duration: 02:52

Point of sale terminals for supermarket check-outs, computer driven warehouses, mistakes and speed of working can be checked

Duration: 03:54

Word processing is here, standard paragraphs for the secretary

Duration: 03:17

Networking word processors within the office and perhaps by satellite, mail similarly

Duration: 00:39

Automated manufacturing production line (cars) at Fiat, Italy, USA government robot research, Teaching a robot to spray a chair

Duration: 03:01

Expert Systems (Medical, Jack Myers)

Duration: 03:17

Automatic ploughing, employment drops in traditional industry (Alex G'Agapeyeff British Computer Society (BCS))

Duration: 01:16

Coping with large scale automation - A generation of unemployed? How to share wealth between rich & poor - Union reaction (Mike Cooley- AUEW, TASS / Gordon Paterson - Plessey Ltd)

Duration: 02:46

Currency dealers info system package: Chase Manhattan system from Logica (UK), Software costs, UK very good at programming skills (David Firnberg, Director National Computing Centre), EMI body scanner

Duration: 06:38

EMI body scanner, as an example of new job-creation industries possible due to 'The Chip'

Duration: 01:06

The questions: Intro: The effect on today's jobs: Can we afford not to automate?, meaningful lives, government has stayed ignorant (Mick McLean - Science Policy Research Unit, Robert Clayton - Technical Director GEC, Barrie Sherman - Director of Research ASTMS)

Duration: 02:13

The questions: Is the 2nd industrial revolution coming & how fast?

Duration: 01:10

The questions: The cheap costs of solid state, should we stay out of it? Software costs need to be considered, too

Duration: 02:57

The questions: Are we are miles behind others already, government aware and intervening? Semi-conductor chip manufacture in UK is important.

Duration: 03:11

The questions: Is the government going in the right direction? Short, medium and long term considerations needed; we need a strategy; Plessey & Ferranti are doing OK, effect on employment. Sector working parties

Duration: 05:04

The questions: Is software alone a product for proper national Wealth Creation; USA support by Defence spending, the Japanese have a tremendous coordinated strategy.

Duration: 04:16

The questions: The effect on employment, Better society with less repetitive jobs, Social upheaval: Print Union resistance due to lack of consultation or re-training, how to share out the jobs/ wealth, shorter working lives, the have/have nots

Duration: 08:58

The questions: Predictions for the future - will we deal with these problems quick enough

Duration: 01:01

End Titles & Credits

Duration: 00:35