The development of software over the past sixty years
Starting from scratch, software developed very rapidly during the second half of the 1950’s. Steady progress followed during the era of large computers until the surges after the appearance of personal computers in the early 1980’s and then the Web around the turn of the century. This progress will be outlined and discussed from the point of view of the consumer. Two unresolved long-standing questions, the relation of programming to mathematics and the status of programming and programmers, will also be addressed.
Highgate School and St. John’s College, Cambridge. MA (Mathematics), CEng, FBCS.
During 70’s, worked at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) leading the effort to build a computer network to give all UK universities access to the Research Councils’ mainframe computers. This network has subsequently become the academic part of the UK section of the Internet, the ‘.ac.uk’ part. From 1980 to retirement in 1999, was head of the Advanced Communications Unit (ACU) at RAL. The ACU engaged in collaborative research projects in the general area of multimedia networking, mainly obtaining funding from the EU’s RACE and Esprit programmes. From 1996 to the end of 1998, the ACU took part in a very successful Esprit project, called project INK, which was concerned with investigating the possibilities for the next generation of in-room media equipment for the hospitality industry. The project culminated in a three-month trial of PC based equipment in a number of rooms in Jurys Custom House Inn in Dublin. This equipment gave guests fully interactive access to a film library, access to the Internet and to email, as well as normal TV with the additional possibility of recording TV for later viewing.
Was visiting Professor at Oxford Brookes University (maybe still is!), was tutor for the Open University’s fourth-level course in ‘Digital Communications Projects’. Publications include the book ‘Project Universe: An Experiment in High-Speed Networking’ published by the OUP’.