上次約略提到香港舊「麗的呼聲」大廈座落於灣仔海濱告士打道，也談及其後的「亜洲電視」未獲港府續牌，已到窮途末路; 今次講的則是公司名稱相似、有「腦」無「視」的「亜洲電腦」; 「亜視」與「亜電」兩者毫無關係, 但後者則與筆者則好有關係。 我手頭上有些舊剪報, 請閱讀當年的商業新聞報導。
( 特訉 ) 財政師夏鼎基昨日在主持本港第一所供商業用的電腦時間分享服務之公司開幕禮時致詞稱：香港廣泛採用電腦，為經濟發展之一大進步，電腦在本港的工商業中，是一項極備歡迎之發展。
1971.11.12 華僑日報 (Wah Kiu Yat Po, per bottom left clipping in photo.)
And on the same day, The Hong Kong Standard (英文虎報) covered the story by saying:
“ A computer service bureau with the largest computer facility in Southeast Asia was opened here yesterday…”
As shown in the photos below, the newspaper clippings are 44 years old. Friends in Hong Kong may know that some of these papers have folded many years ago, including Wah Kiu Yat Po (華僑日報); ditto for its two evening editions of Wah Kiu Man Po (華僑晚報), and Sing Tao Evening News (星島晚報). This is because many people, just like you, and friends around the globe, have switched to online reading mode.
Excerpt from South China Morning Post business news, 1971.11.12 (clipping on the right above):
Haddon-Cave opens time sharing computer service
Hongkong’s first computer service bureau to introduce a remote time sharing system to the entire business community was officially opened yesterday by the Financial Secretary, Mr C.P. Haddon-Cave.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of Asiadata Limited, the Financial Secretary praised the newly introduced system as “a most welcome development” and “another step forward to promote greater computer utilization in Hongkong.” …
The ICL 1904A computer weighs 27,000 lbs. and covers more than 2,700 sq. ft. fully assembled. Total “hardware”—computer and all its accessories — cost over HK$8 million.
Asiadata whose head office is in Jardine House is a joint venture of Cable & Wireless Ltd, Jardine, Matheson and Co Ltd, International Computers Ltd (ICL), and Barclays Bank International…
The ICL1900 Series computers were 24-bit word machines (supporting four 6-bit characters per word) and using octal for binary short-hand, as opposed to IBM Systems’ using 8-bit bytes and hex. If my memory – of unknown size — serves me correctly, the total memory size of the multi-ton so-called “Small-i” (細-i) ** 1904A system was 64K words at the time I joined Asiadata Limited upon my return to Hong Kong from Canada. ( ** whereas IBM was called “Big-I” (大-I), a school chum who returned to Hong Kong a year earlier than I told me then. He was working for WANG.)
Asiadata had by then relocated from Jardine House to Mercury House on Connaught Road Central. (See photos below.) As Hong Kong’s first and biggest computer service bureau, we served several large companies in the colony, plus many of our UK parent company Cable and Wireless’ (C&W) telecommunication subsidiaries in Bahrain, Dubai, Quata and other cities in the Middle-East. Yes, all the processing was done by that single 64K-word computer, a monster in appearance but was really small inside! (By comparison, today’s iPhone-6 weighs 6.1 oz with 1 GB RAM and internal memory of 16/64/128GB.)
Mercury House was located across the road from the City Hall, where our School choir won championships in consecutive years. Up till the 1970’s, Mercury House was the place where people had to go to in order to make phone calls to overseas or mainland China. It housed Hong Kong’s only long-distance telephone and telegram centre for the public. It was later called Old Mercury House when New Mercury House was built on reclaimed land in Wanchai that was just a stone’s throw from the original site of Rediffuson Building (「麗的呼聲」大廈 ) where my schoolmates and I had recited on live TV broadcast 「車轔轔，馬蕭蕭，行人弓箭各在腰 …」。