Medieval methods... (was Re: Got a question....PDP? VAX?)

From: Jim Strickland <>
Date: Wed Mar 17 12:53:39 1999

So... for those of us who haven't traveled in the UK (yet), how does it work

-----Original Message-----
From: <>
To: Discussion re-collecting of classic computers
Date: Wednesday, March 17, 1999 8:04 AM
Subject: Re: Medieval methods... (was Re: Got a question....PDP? VAX?)

>> I gather the machine had some sort of support for doing arithmetic on
>> pre-decimalized currency, does anyone here know what that looked like?
>> It wasn't explained very well in the book.
>I don't know how the currency was handled on Leo, but as a reference for
>American friends I shall say a few words on British currency prior to 1971.
>The basic unit was the pound. The symbol was the same as nowadays, viz. a
>scripty capital L with two horizontal bars through it (though often only
one bar
>is written, for speed) On e-mail I generally use an ordinary L for pound
>stands for Livre (french = pound))
>King Offa (?9th century) fixed the value of a penny at 1/240 of a pound.
>the shilling was fixed at 12 pence. (Pence is the plural of penny, in case
>hadn't worked it out. "Pennies" is a word coined much more recently (pun
>So L1 = 20 s. (s stands for solidus (lat. = a silver coin of some sort) or
>(Fr. = a coin worth not a lot))
>1 s. = 12 d. (d stands for denarius (lat. = penny) or denier (fr. =
>Halfpence (pronounced ha'pence) were in use until 1969 (and re-introduced
>decimalisation in 1971).
>Farthings (1/4 d) were in use at least until the mid 1940s, and may have
>required for Leo.
>So to computerise the currency you probably need:
>A field for whole pounds
>A field for shillings (up to 19 with a carry at 20)
>A field for pence (up to 11 with a carry at 12)
>A field for farthings or ha'pence (up to the obvious numbers thereof)
>It would not likely be possible to ignore the fractions of pence, since
even as
>late as the 1950s 1/2 d had a reasonable purchasing power, perhaps
equivalent to
>one US dime today.
>Also, just as they do today, vendors loved prices ending ...nineteen
>and elevenpence ha'penny.
Received on Wed Mar 17 1999 - 12:53:39 GMT

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