Introductory Remarks

Brian Randell

"In October, 1955, a circular from the University Grants Committee asked Universities to indicate their need for an automatic computer. Groups which had previously been considering computers independently in Durham and Newcastle combined to reply to the circular and as a result the University was told in April, 1956, that it might order a Ferranti Pegasus computer."

(Extract from "The Director's Report 1957/1958)

In January 1957 Dr. Ewan Page was appointed as the Director of the Durham University Computing Laboratory at King's College Newcastle and in November of the same year the Computing Laboratory took possession of FERDINAND, the (Ferranti Digital Numerical Analyser Newcastle and Durham).

King's College became the University of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1963, and in 1992 the Computing Laboratory became the Department of Computing Science (responsible for teaching and research) and the University Computing Service (responsible for the provision of computing services, consultation and guidance to academic and research staff throughout the University).

To mark the 40th Anniversary of Computing at Newcastle a set of Commemorative Public Lectures were given on on Wednesday, 22nd October, 1997, by past and present staff representing first hand accounts of Computing at Newcastle over 40 years:

"How it was for us. Computing Science at Newcastle - The Early Days"
Dr. Ewan Page, Director, University Computing Laboratory, 1956-1979

"The Transition from Centralised to Distributed Computing"
Professor Harry Whitfield, Director of the University Computing Laboratory and Head of Department, Computing Science, 1980-1992

"The University Computing Service"
Mr. Denis Russell, Assistant Director, University Computing Service

"Computing Spice - What do we really want?"
Professor Tom Anderson, Head of Department, Computing Science, 1992-1997

This on-line Commemorative Book provides the texts of some of these lectures, and a number of additional specially-written accounts of various aspects of the work of the Computing Laboratory and its successor departments, together with transcriptions of selected early documents and reports.

It also provides listings of staff and students and of publications, and a collection of photographs of various events, people and machines from the last forty years. In addition, it reveals to the public gaze, for the very first time time, the collection of songs that have been written for performance at various memorable social occasions.

We would be delighted to hear from any past members of staff or students who read this book, and in particular to be informed of any omissions or inaccuracies in the staff and student listings, or in the photograph captions.

Finally, let me express my thanks to all who contributed to this online Anniversary Book, and in particular Barry Hodgson and Christine Davies, who carried the main responsibility for organising both the preparation of the book, and the Anniversary Event for which it serves as a lasting souvenir.

Contents Page - 40 years of Computing at Newcastle
Introductory Remarks, by Brian Randell, 18 October 1997