Oral history of British science
Edwards, David (Dai) (Part 10 of 13). An Oral History of British Science.
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Computer Software; Electronics
Interviewee's home, Preston
Edwards, David B.G., 1928- (speaker, male)
Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)
Part 10: Remarks on feelings about MU5 in department. Description of MU5 as it took shape in specialised air-conditioned room. Remarks on working day, working on other activities while waiting for components. [05:00] Remarks on random access store based on plated wire, designed by Plessey, PH's work on similar technology. Technical comments on Phillips built core memory [mic noise], its use to speed up virtual memory, arrangement of memory pages, development of variable page sizes. [9:45] Technical remarks on drum, developed by Linda Warburton [LW] [mic noise]. Remarks on MU5 team size, work of technical staff, division of team between sections of machine and hardware and software. Remarks on keen feelings toward MU5 as it implemented ideas from within university. Technical comments on storage of instruction for CPU in fast store, arrangements of backing store, ICL1905 and disc store. [15:45] Technical comments on the functioning of the exchange interface and its speed advantages over a bus interface, transfer of data within MU5 and arrangement and timing of system components. [21:20] Comments on aim of MU5 to build a multiple computer system that could take advantage of parallelism to, for example, control peripherals. Remarks on grant to use MU5 for development of a portable operating system, limited compatibility between MU5 and ICL2900. [25:00] Description of concept of parallel architecture and multiprocessor systems. [29:25] Remarks on how technical decisions are made. Comments on team work in universities and working with ICL on Atlas tape drives. [34:20] Comments on personal role on MU5 in charge of engineering, progress meetings, working with Linda Warburton on drum, supporting Hilary Kahn [HK] on computer aided design [CAD], working with Dave Kinniment on processor. [38:30] Remarks on organisation of groups with university staff, graduate students and ICL personnel. Remarks on differences between ICL and university projects. Remarks on being less involved in day to day work on MU5 than on Atlas, greater responsibilities elsewhere. [43:10] Comments on founding computer graphics unit with colleague from crystallography, subsequent history of unit. Remarks on wife's death, wife's parents' deaths, FCW's death in 1977. Remarks on other duties: computer engineering course starting in 1977; sitting on university committees; video lectures unit. [48:25] Discussion of video lectures: arrangements, SL's video lectures, use of videos in lectures, reasons for practice, example of Open University, difficulties with director, fast turnover of computing lecturers, difference of outlooks between lecturers and video producers. [57:30] Comments on wife's illness and treatment, not telling colleagues, sleeping poorly, finding an escape in work, kindness of friends and neighbours in subsequent difficult year. [1:02:00] Comments on meeting future wife, daughter of neighbour, medical student, friend's reaction, being married for last 30 years, having another family, retiring to spend more time with family. [1:05:10] Remarks on outlook on life, with reference to Great Ormond Street television programme, returning to work. Remarks on decision to retire early, based on father and TK's experiences. Comments on reasons for finding job interesting: lecturing teaching you self sufficiency, overseas travel, responsibility financial administration, ability to see plans to fruition, winning government funding, such as for buildings. [1:11:35] Comments on enjoying significant team projects, sometimes lasting years, as well as occasional smaller projects, not being restricted in his activities. Remarks on not getting on with final university vice-chancellor, due to DE controlling computer science's finances. [1:15:00] Comments on funding within university: equipment funding arrangements; staff funding, difficulties of promoting good teaching staff, different publishing ranks of different departments. Comments on good relations with previous vice-chancellors, difficulties with final vice-chancellor. Story about a dispute with the vice-chancellor over funding for student expansion and a new computing building. Further remarks on vice-chancellor and disappearance of daughter. [1:26:35] Story about Arthur Armitage appointing him to the university equipment committee. Comments about appeal of big projects.
Interview with computer scientist and electrical engineer David (Dai) Edwards.