Oral history of British science

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

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  • Subjects

    Computer Software; Electronics

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  • Recording locations

    Interviewee's home, Preston

  • Interviewees

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

  • Interviewers

    Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 13: Remarks on Tom Kilburn never owning a personal computer. Comments on impact of personal computer on teaching and structural similarities of personal computer with early machines. [04:15] Comments on change in university environment: continuity of university computer development team and Ferranti being the reason for MU numbered names, meaning that later developments by JG, IW and SF not known as MU numbered computers, [08:30] work of Cliff Jones and formal logic, an RRE machine built using formal logic. [10:40] Comments on changes in research over his career: increased preparation and planning involved, fundamental importance of continuing to check circuits with an oscilloscope or sampling techniques. Comments on changes in emphasis over his career: speed, MU5 design for software development, relationships between engineers and software developers. [17:00] Remarks on changes in engineering mindset as computer builders have become computer users. Story about FCW's concept of having ideas in the bath when doing consultancy work, to avoid problems of ownership of ideas. Comments on retirement in 1988: becoming emeritus professor, honorary fellow, having less involvement with department, continuing to meet with TK and Hamish Sutherland [HS] for lunch, [22:40], Baby 50th anniversary lecture. Remarks on receiving a DSc from University of Glamorgan, medal of honour for early computing work from University of Manchester and award from BCS. Remarks on moves to Preston and Cat forth, his wife's new jobs at the Royal Preston Hospital and Blackpool Hospital, birth of twin daughters in 1993. [25:55] Remarks on deaths of DM, IW, TK, HS, favourite aunt, DG, HK, Brian Napper, Dick Vogle, PH, Harold Hankin, in a short period of time. Comments on children: daughter Helen's university and legal career, twin daughters GCSE's and favourable school reports, family keeping him active. Stories about Helen's preparation for a maths exam, choice of classics at Cambridge University, subsequent legal career, including a job at Great Ormond Street Hospital. [33:15] Comments on relations between his children: twins visiting elder daughter Anne in the US, son Huw living in Henley on Thames. Remarks on children inheriting his good eyesight. Comments on being pleased with children all being bright and with their occupations. [37:10] Remarks on importance of a job that you enjoy. [38:00] Comments on his developing DIY skills in his retirement, appeal of practical activity, using a computer to solve problems with his wife's parents arrangements, difficulty dealing with people over the telephone. [42:00] Remarks on building and useful activity being a feature of his life. Remarks on travelling, comparison with his children's travels. Remarks on feelings about awards: University of Glamorgan award being satisfying as his father worked in one of its predecessor organisations; University of Manchester award not reflecting his whole career. [46:00] Comments on: his contribution to development of Manchester computers; Manchester's wide ranging contribution to development of computing more widely, compared to narrower focus of the NPL; value of service provided by Manchester computers to the University, managed by TK before computer board service developed in 1970 under GB. [50:45] Comments on key contributions of Manchester computers: working random access memory; index registers, or B-tubes; backing store; virtual memory. Comments on minor hardware contributions and software contributions with reference to TB's work on Autocode. [53:35] Comments of the treatment of Manchester computer history: not happy with many books; attention given to Bletchley Park and ENIAC; Jack Copeland's work over-stressing connections to Von-Neumann proposals; extent of MN's influence. Remarks on never seeing a copy of 'First Draft of a Report on EDSAC' and only later encountering Moore School reports; [56:45] Remarks on rebuilding of Baby computer: interested in building of Babbage machine; supplied circuit diagrams and occasional input with TK; difficulties using CRT; component supply. [59:30] Comments on interview: interested in social aspect of interview, enjoyed sessions, structure. Remarks on photographs and documents.

  • 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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