Oral history of British science

Hoare, Tony (Part 7 of 15). An Oral History of British Science.

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  • Subjects

    Computer Software

  • Recording date


  • Recording locations

    Interviewee’s home, Cambridge

  • Interviewees

    Hoare, Charles Antony Richard, 1934- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Lean, Thomas (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 7: Comments on Elliotts: good company to work for; Computer Conservation Society interest, recent book by Simon Lavington; TH enjoying people and programming; colleagues Jeff Hillmore, who helped write ALOGOL 60 compiler, TH boss Roger Cook, chief engineer Laurie Bentall; anecdote about Roger Cook testing computers by poking random buttons; software testing, comparisons with current Microscoft practice; [05:20] limited degree of interaction between hardware and software developers, comparison with recent Microsoft and Intel practice; legacy of existing software limiting future developments, Elliotts' 503 and 803; computer manufacturers problems making software; [09:55] ALGOL compiler and Operating System teams; chief concerns in writing software, driven by events; speed and size considerations in optimisation of Algol compiler, programming errors diagnosable in programming language not machine code; verification and correctness; TH laissez-faire management style, creating environment for work, interface with company, strategic technical choices; lack of budgets, deadlines and other administration. [16:35] Remarks on: career path in Elliotts; Chief Engineer post duties, increase in use of term software engineering, TH engineering status, Royal Academy of Engineering, Institution of Engineering and Technology, National Academy of Engineering. [19:35] Comments on differences between engineering and science: originality; differences between engineers and software people at Elliotts, high quality of logic designers. [23:48] Remarks on: women at Elliotts, many programmers at first, changing balance later, influence of computers in schools; anecdote about working life of computer programmers; TH interviewing programmers; TH keeping up contact with universities whilst in industry, benefits of selling computers to universities.[28:15] Remarks on TH duties at Elliott's research division after 1966: design of new computer; colleague Mike Melliar-Smith working on cache virtual memory; circumstance of TH move to research division; visiting universities to tout new computer; takeover of Elliotts by English Electric; new 4140 and 4150 versions of 4120 and 4130 computers cancelled; takeover of English Electric by ICT, to form ICL, then taken over by Fujitsu; limited changes in company after takeovers; duties in research department; anecdote about presentations to sell computer technology, training for presentations; [35:35] research and discussion, much of it on aeroplanes; description of Boreham Wood location, factories in Rochester and Sydenham; differences in activities compared to Chief Engineer post. [38:10] Remarks on life outside work: social life, no sport; family life; marriage in 1962 to an Elliott programmer, honeymoon in Brighton followed by holiday in Corsica; holidays and visits overseas, World Congress on Computer Science in New York. [40:50] Comments on trips to Russia to sell computers, US embargo difficulties, TH interpreting. [44:10] Remarks on children: son Tom, works in Coventry in communications; daughter Angela; son Matthew; change in life at fatherhood; family life, holidays at seaside; balance of work and family life, working in evenings.

  • Description

    Interview with computer scientist Sir Tony Hoare.

  • Related transcripts

    Professor Sir Tony Hoare interviewed by Dr Thomas Lean: full transcript of the interview

  • Related links

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

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