Oral history of British science

Edwards, David (Dai) (Part 9 of 13). An Oral History of British Science.

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  • Subjects

    Computer Software; Electronics

  • Recording date


  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home, Preston

  • Interviewees

    Edwards, David B.G., 1928- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 9: Comments on Atlas project, significance, operating system, ICL telling DE and TK they would never use virtual memory again. Further remarks on virtual memory, patenting, economics, lack of further development of Atlas, opposition to building computers. [04:30] Remarks on US computer market and disappointment of low Atlas sales. Comments on technical developments in Atlas and costs of leading the field. Remarks on memory, magnetic recording and architecture. [08:10] Comments on software. Remarks on reliability, controlling instruments. Comments on performance of Atlas and users. [12:40] Comments on Atlas development team from University of Manchester, ICL and Plessey, including Evan Warburton, Yao Chen, Peter Whitehead, George Roylance, David Howarth, Tony Brooker, Tom Kilburn, Gordon Haley, Eric Dunstan, David Aspinall, Dick Grimsdale. [18:15] Remarks on other duties of University staff, team working practices, atmosphere. Short anecdote about next door neighbour not believing he worked for university because he worked shifts. Comments on project management. [22:20] Comments on formation of computer science department, housed in the Whitworth Laboratory, and building of new computer laboratories according to wider university plan for Oxford Road. Remarks on experiments and planning for new computers, meeting between TK and ICL's Arthur Humphreys to discuss Project 52, later the ICL 2900 range. Remarks on SRC grant which provided the computer science department with an ICL 1905E and funds for the next project. [28:40] Comments on aims of MU5 project, use of integrated circuits, improvements in organisational features of machine, use of smaller computers to run peripherals, increased importance of software. [32:30] Further comments on high level languages, such as Fortran, Ada, COBOL, LISP, and Snowball, with remarks on Edsger Dijkstra. Remarks on accommodating high level languages. Comments on attempted convergence exercise to achieve compatibility between MU5 and ICL 2900 range. [37:40] Detailed technical comments on designing MU5 to work with high level languages, operands, buffer store, name base register. [45:50] Comments on ICL1906 integrated circuits, emitter couple logic or MECL, manufactured by Motorola, and assembly into a multilayer circuit board or platter, with interconnections specified on computer or done by hand. Remarks on advantages of ICL platter construction over hand-wiring. [49:30] Comments on development of computer simulation tool for developing systems and their manufacture by Ferranti. Short story about number of platters used in MU5. Remarks on contributions of Hilary Kahn to CAD, which was passed to ICL. [52:30] Comments on designing computers by hand and the advantages of CAD. [55:45] Remarks on Hilary Kahn, recruited from classics in South Africa by Derrick Morris to work on COBOL before working on CAD. Remarks on Linda Warburton's work on MU5 disc system and other women in the computer science department. [59:25] Remarks on relations with ICL during MU5 build, platter production, progress meetings. Remarks on building of MU5, [mic crackle] moving from Dover Street building to new building on Oxford Road, printed circuit manufacturing facility at university, details of MU5 platters, search for higher performance, extra space on components [1:04:05] Comments on mechanical workshop facilities available, as used in printed circuit work. Remarks on Doug Edwards work on software to chart circuit connections on printed circuit boards. Comments on self test and checking facilities, challenges of interfacing components from different manufacturers. [1:11:00] Comments on core memory acceptance tests at Phillips in Amsterdam. Remarks on: growth in computer science, need for qualified research personnel, importance of engineering systems at Manchester, working with industry more due to integrated circuit facilities, software, remarks on dramatic change in computer hardware. [1:16:45] Discussion of computing status as a science, establishment as a separate department, debate as to whether computing was engineering or science.

  • Description

    Interview with computer scientist and electrical engineer David (Dai) Edwards.

  • Related transcripts

    David (Dai) Edwards interviewed by Tom Lean: full transcript of the interview

  • Related links

    Visit this interviewee's page on the 'Voices of Science' web resource

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