April 13, 2021


Advances in world technology

Dai Edwards obituary | Computing

My colleague Dai Edwards, who has died aged 92, was a single of a little team of engineers who developed the world’s initially commercially obtainable laptop or computer. He went on to assist structure other substantial-effectiveness computer systems, each and every the product or service of fruitful collaboration amongst academia and market.

David Beverley George Edwards, identified to colleagues as Dai, was born in Tonteg, South Wales. He was the only child of Cecilia (nee George) and William Edwards, who were being both equally instructors. Dai went to Pontypridd boys’ intermediate college, leaving in 1945 with a point out scholarship to research physics at Manchester University. On graduation, he joined Professor FC (Freddie) Williams’ electrical engineering team in September 1948.

Dai was one of a few analysis learners who worked with Williams, Tom Kilburn and Geoff Tootill on enhancing the capabilities of a tiny laptop, recognised as Little one, which had initially operate a software on 21 June 1948. By April 1949 this workforce had manufactured the Manchester Mark I, which was applied by Alan Turing and other folks for the investigation of mathematical challenges. Dai’s individual obligation was the style of a novel established of rapidly modifier registers for this pc.

Dai Edwards, still left, in 1949 at the console of the Manchester Mark I computer system. Guiding Dai is GE (Tommy) Thomas, a different research scholar. Photograph: University of Manchester

The governing administration positioned a agreement with the neighborhood company Ferranti to create a entirely engineered output version of the university’s 1949 equipment. The result was the Ferranti Mark I laptop, very first sent on 12 February 1951. Dai was intently included in the transfer of technologies from academia to business.

Dai ongoing as a vital member of Kilburn’s research team, developing prototypes of superior-general performance pcs essential for scientific apps for the duration of the chilly war.

In 1950 Dai grew to become a consultant to Ferranti and remained in this position for the up coming 22 several years, latterly with ICT and ICL, the successors to Ferranti.

For the duration of this time, the Ferranti Mercury computer system and the Ferranti Atlas pc were being manufactured, each derived from college prototypes. Amongst Dai’s a lot of patents, he was a co-inventor with Kilburn and Frank Sumner of the Atlas Digital Memory method.

In 1965 the College of Manchester admitted its initial computer science undergraduates. Dai took charge of location up the laboratories for this training course. In 1966 he was appointed professor of laptop engineering, a posture funded by ICL to mark the several fruitful collaborations concerning the corporation and the university. He retired in 1988.

Dai married Betty Duckworth, a instructor, in 1953, and they experienced three children. Betty died of cancer in 1977. Two years later on he married Jane Ellis, a health practitioner, and they, also, had 3 youngsters. Dai is survived by Jane and his little ones, Ann, Huw, Keith, Helen, Carol and Joy, eight grandchildren and 12 excellent-grandchildren.