Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Memorial Service for Professor John Bennett

EDSAC I, 1947 P.J.Farmer R.Piggott M.V.Wilkes W.Renwick S.A.Barton G.J.Stevens J.M.Bennett (posed photograph) Copyright (c) University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory, 1999
A memorial service for Australian computer pioneer Professor John Bennett AO will be held at the University of Sydney, 24 February 2011. Please register your attendance by 18 February 2011.

The Australian Computer Society (ACS) reported the death of its founder Professor John Bennett AO, on 9 December 2010. John helped to build one of the first computers in the world, EDSAC, at Cambridge University (UK) with Maurice Wilkes, before working on computers in Australia.

During my time as President of ACS I bumped into John a few times. On one occasion I was in a queue of people going in to the Lucas Heights nuclear reactor. I noticed John in the queue (he was hard to miss) he made a comment about how after World War II some of his colleagues stayed in radar, some went into computing (as he did) and others into nuclear power.

In 1996 I visited the Cambridge University Computer Lab and handed the head of the lab, Professor Robin Milner, a copy of 'Computing in Australia - The development of a profession'. He looked at the cover of the book said "Ah! young John Bennett!". I had no idea what Professor Milner was talking about, until I looked at the book cover, saw John had edited it and then realised that he had studied in this lab 50 years ago.

Some information I collected on John Bennett for the ACS:

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