Nor, perhaps, did he appreciate that the very high priorities enjoyed by Bletchley, and the willingness of other organisations to sacrifice their independence, could no longer be expected in 1946.
Thus at Dollis Hill, while there was no question about the competence of the Colossus engineers, their director, Radley, did not attach great importance to the work being done on delay lines for the ν PL.
The Post Office had manifold tasks of its own in connection with the wartime backlog, and there was now no higher authority, no national policy, to coordinate the priorities of the various state enterprises.
Alan and Womersley made an official visit to Dollis Hill on 3 April 1946, and thereafter work began—but in a desultory way, with the effect of creating an unforeseen delay, and a sense of uncertainty as to direction.
Alan had written in his report about the possibility of using cathode ray tubes as a quite different kind of storage system,
and it was probably at his prompting that on 8 May 1946 Womersley wrote to TRE with an enquiry about the state of research at the radar establishment into the use of such tubes for storage,
explaining that it might 'form a suitable alternative to, or possibly even an improvement on, the mercury delay line which we are at present intending to use in our automatic computing engine ...
The response was not unhelpful, and on 13 August Darwin was able to write to Sir Edward Appleton at the DSIR:
...As I told you Womersley was down at TRE to see whether they could do any work about the ACE machine.
He tells me that it looks a most promising chance, and I think we should go ahead on it.
Their lay-out for the job looks good, and I gather it appealed strongly to F.C. Williams as a job he would like to do, so that it should get a good chance.
I am kicking myself for not having thought of it months ago as a possibility.