Coordination and cooperation had long since been replaced by competition.
A few days later Womersley reported to Darwin with proposals for the building of the machine, which he held to be 'of supreme importance ...in the fields of scientific research, administration, and national defence'.
The proposals included 'using as much of Wilkes' development work as is consistent with our own programming system', and making an approach to F.C. Williams to request a copy of the machine being built at Manchester.
In this radical modification, or rather abandonment, of the ACE programme, no attention was paid to the ideas of its originator. The administrators appeared to regard him as an abstract, almost anonymous entity.
Alan was not perhaps entirely free from responsibility for this absence of communication. It was, for instance, rude of him to postpone for a long time a visit to Wilkes at the Mathematical Laboratory in Cambridge—a short walk from King's across Market Square, but not an easy one.
As the time for decision approached, Alan said, 'I really must go and see Wilkes', and then put it off, and put it off again until the last minute in late May. By that time the construction of what was to be the EDSAC was in full swing.
They were using mercury delay lines. He had obtained money from the DSIR, the University Grants Committee, and from J. Lyons and Co. Ltd., reflecting a very early interest on the part of private enterprise.
He was in full control, without a Womersley or a Darwin to get in the way, and working much as Alan would have liked to. The barricade between mathematics and engineering never arose.
It was enough to show the folly of NPL policy, and jealousy would have been a very natural reaction.
Afterwards he meanly said, 'I couldn't listen to a word he said. I was just thinking, how exactly like a beetle he looked.' But duty was done.