On the day the Conference opened, President Richard Nixon announced that the United States would no longer convert dollars to gold at a fixed value, effectively ending the Bretton Woods system.
The first afternoon was devoted to computing. The UK Directorate of Military Survey presented a paper on the installation of a new, large computer with no less than 64 kb of memory. It cost an enormous amount of money: £176 000 (which included the building to house it)!
Further evidence of the focus on the big picture was a paper presented by the Director of the US National Ocean Survey, regarding the ‘world-wide triangulation net’ created using satellite photography. In a review of the role of the Conference, SG Gamble, of the Department of Energy, Mines and Resources (Canada), considered its history and special characteristics and suggested a number of changes that might be implemented in the future.
The first proposition was in recognition of the service of Brigadier Martin Hotine CMG CBE RE, who died before the 1971 Conference. It was proposed that a keynote address, touching on the philosophy of surveying or survey administration should form an early part of all future Conferences – the session to be known as the ‘Hotine Lecture’.
Another proposal was that steps should be taken to limit future attendance to approximately 150, in view of the record attendance at the 1967 Conference which was widely believed to have spoiled the special atmosphere of the event.