The Trouble With Computers

May 1, 2019

The Trouble with Computers

Having a bad computer day? Our Who’s Who biographees will sympathise. Col Norman Davies spends his time ‘battling with the computer’ and Very Rev. Canon Alexander Gordon gives his recreation as ‘trying to get my computer to do what I want it to do’. Meanwhile Sir Stewart Eldon finds himself ‘breaking computers’.

Today our PCs, laptops, tablets and smartphones have become a necessity for everyday life, but a long period of hard work brought us to this point. Computer pioneer Charles Babbage was active long before Who’s Who was first published, but his son Maj.-Gen. Henry Babbage, born in 1824, did have an entry. After a career in the army he published ‘Babbage’s Calculating Machines’. It was mathematician Alan Turing, OBE, FRS who changed the world in his work towards developing the computer. His recreations in his modest Who’s Who entry are ‘long distance running, chess, gardening’.

The highly decorated Sir Tim Berners-Lee, OM, KBE, RDI, FRS, FREng, Professor of Computer Science at Oxford and at MIT, invented the World Wide Web in 1989. It was also in 1989 that Sir Jonathan Ive began his career at Tangerine design consultancy before joining Apple, where he designed the iMac, iPod, iPhone and iPad. He was knighted in 2012 in recognition of his work.

But it hasn’t all been plain sailing. Clement Haigh, scientific and engineering consultant, gave his recreation in Who’s Who as ‘study of magnificent failures in technology’.