Cambridge Computing: The First 75 Years

Haroon Ahmed

Published by

Third Millennium Publishing

ISBN

9781906507831

RRP

£40

Reviewed by

Sheila Bullas MBCS CITP

Score

9 out of 10

Cambridge Computing was published to mark the 75th anniversary of the Computer Laboratory and the centenary of Professor Sir Maurice Wilkes, who directed the laboratory for 35 years. It charts the progress of people and the innovations they were involved with.

It includes many of the big names: Charles Babbage, Alan Turing, John Lennard-Jones, Maurice Wiles, Roger Needham and many more. It not only includes the leaders, but also many of the students.

The story of Cambridge Computing is set in the broader framework of how computing developed worldwide and describes many of the commercial successes that arose from the work of the laboratory, including Acorn computers with the BBC micro and ARM Holdings.

I particularly liked the many biographies of key players, which included personal as well as professional details and charted their progress towards the developments that made them famous. Descriptions of the organisation of groups within the laboratory and wider university provide useful insights into how an environment was created where individuals from different disciplines thrive and innovation is the result.

This book is a good read for anyone interested in the history of science and technology and a valuable source for anyone involved in the development of computers. It is a beautiful book with many colour photographs; both formal posed pictures and more informal groups in their places of work.

Haroon Ahmed is Professor Emeritus of Microelectronics at the University of Cambridge and Honorary Fellow of Corpus Christie College. He worked in the Engineering Department for 32 years and moved to the Cavendish Laboratory in 1984.

Further information: Third Millenium Publishing

December 2013