My dad was a computing professional in Scotland in the 1970s. He received a couple of industry trade magazines every week, such as Computer Weekly and Computing. In one of them, I remember there being a cartoon strip called Computability Brown (a pun on Capability Brown, the 18th century landscape architect), but I've had no luck finding references to it.

What I remember:

  • It was drawn in the style of Frank Dickens's Bristow: small roundish men in suits working in an ironic office setting.

  • There was usually a mainframe printer in the background going “dump dump dump”. This might be a hint that the strip was drawn by Dickens, as he was famous for writing indicative words to express emotions rather than drawing expressions.

  • The time frame would have been likely between 1977 and 1984.

There doesn't seem to be good archives of either of these magazines, so I'm not finding anything to back up my memory.

  • Not an answer, but I don't recall any such thing, and I had subscriptions to those two rags in the late 1970s. Jul 19, 2021 at 22:17
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    The title is so good that it ought to exist. Jul 19, 2021 at 22:22
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    Either an obscure or extensive library "somewhere" might have copies of those magazines for that era that could be perused.
    – Fred
    Jul 20, 2021 at 11:02
  • "Computability Brown" sounds to me like it could also be a variation on "Encyclopedia Brown" (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Encyclopedia_Brown). Probably not, but it comes to mind. Mar 19 at 14:59
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    'Encyclopedia Brown' was not generally known in the UK, though, whereas Capability Brown was a name known even to dedicated non-gardeners, such as myself. Mar 19 at 15:31

1 Answer 1


In the late 70s or early 80s, I believe there was a Citizen Pain cartoon strip in one of the UK magazines that I used to get.

That's not really close to Computability Brown but it at least is a similar play on words, so it's possible that may have been what you were thinking of (I'd never heard of Capability Brown until now, but I have heard of Citizen Kane).

  • Trivia: 18th century British landscape gardener Lancelot "Capability" Brown was so-called because he had a habit of declaring to his clients that their landscapes had "lots of capability" - the same as saying "lots of potential".
    – Steve
    Mar 19 at 10:11
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    @paxdiablo - it was definitely Computability Brown
    – scruss
    Mar 20 at 1:18

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