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Christopher Strachey, 1916-1975 A Biographical Note

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000129463D
Original Publication Date: 1985-Jan-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Oct-06

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

MARTIN CAMPBELL-KELLY: AUTHOR [+2]

Abstract

Christopher Strachey was one of the most original computer scientists of his generation: his fields were computer design and programming, and he made important contributions to them both. He liked to say (not quite accurately) that he had changed the direction of his career every seven years. The different phases of his life and career are reflected in the five sections of this note. 1. Family Background and Education (1916-1939) 2. War Service and Schoolmastering (1939-1952) 3. National Research and Development Corporation (NRDC) (1952-1959) 4. Private Consultancy and Cambridge University (1959-1965) 5. Oxford University (1965-1975) [Figure containing following caption omitted: Christopher Strachey, 1916-1975.] Born in 1916 into one of England's more prominent families, Christopher Strachey was educated at Gresham's School, Norfolk, and at King's College, Cambridge. He spent the war years in radar research, after which he spent several years as a schoolmaster. His career in computing did not effectively begin until 1951 when he started to program the machines at the National Physical Laboratory and Manchester University, while still a master at Harrow School. His ability as a programmer rapidly came to the attention of Lord Halsbury of NRDC, who appointed him technical officer in 1952. At NRDC, Strachey was involved in many projects, but particularly in the logical design of computers. In 1959 he left NRDC to set up in practice as a private consultant in computer design and applications. In 1962 he also began work in the University Mathematical Laboratory, Cambridge, where, in the nominal position ";part-time research assistant,"; he worked on the CPL programming language. In 1965, he wound up his consultancy and resigned from Cambridge in order to form the Programming Research Group at Oxford University. Under his leadership the group quickly established an international reputation in the theory of programming. At Oxford, in collaboration with Dana Scott, he produced the work of which he was most proud, the foundation of denotational semantics; this work was just beginning to bear fruit when he died in 1975.

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THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

Copyright ©; 1985 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Used with permission.

Christopher Strachey, 1916-1975 A Biographical Note

MARTIN CAMPBELL-KELLY

(Image Omitted: © 1985 by the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. Permission to copy without fee all or pan of this material is granted provided that the copies are not made or distributed for direct commercial advantage, the AFIPS copyright notice and the title of the publication and its date appear, and notice is given that the copying is by permission of the American Federation of Information Processing Societies, Inc. To copy otherwise, or to republish, requires specific permission. Author's Address: Department of Computer Science, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL, England. Categories and Subject Descriptors: A.0 [General] -- biographies, C. Strachey; K.2 "History of Computing] -- people, C. Strachey, software, systems. General Terms: Design. Additional Key Words and Phrases: CPL, denotational semantics, NRDC, Pegasus. © 1985 AFIPS 0164-1239/85/010019-042

Christopher Strachey, 1916-1975 A Biographical Note

MARTIN CAMPBELL-KELLY .00/00)

Foreword

Christopher Strachey was one of the most original computer scientists of his generation: his fields were computer design and programming, and he made important contributions to them both. He liked to say (not quite accurately) that he had changed the direction of his career every seven years. The different phases of his life and career are reflected in the five sections of this note.

1. Family Background and Education (1916-1939) 2. War Service and Schoolmastering (1939- 1952) 3. National Research and Development Corporation (NRDC) (1952-1959) 4. Private Consultancy and Cambridge University (1959-1965) 5. Oxford University (1965-1975)

(Image Omitted: Christopher Strachey, 1916-1975.)

Born in 1916 into one of England's more prominent families, Christopher Strachey was educated at Gresham's School, Norfolk, and at King's College, Cambridge. He spent the war years in radar research, after which he spent several years as a schoolmaster. His career in computing did not effectively begin until 1951 when he started to program the machines at the National Physical Laboratory and Manchester University, while still a master at Harrow School. His ability as a programmer rapidly came to the attention of Lord Halsbury of NRDC, who appointed him technical officer in 1952. At NRDC, Strachey was involved in many projects, but particularly in the logical design of computers. In 1959 he left NRDC to set up in practice as a private consultant in computer design and applications. In 1962 he also began work in the University Mathematical Laboratory, Cambridge, where, in the nominal position "part-time research assistant," he worked on the CPL programming language. In 1965, he wound up his consultancy and resigned from Cambridge in...