Update of 26 July 2010: Brian Napper sadly passed away in March 2009. The
Computer50 pages are now maintained by Toby Howard, at the
School of Computer Science, The University of Manchester. The
following text was written by Brian Napper.
The following text was written by Brian Napper.
I have been in the Department of Computer Science since 1960, as Research Student, Research Assistant, Lecturer, Honorary Lecturer and Honorary Fellow. I was semi-retired for 5 years, and then in October 1997 eventually retired from all teaching/administration duties, in particular the major role I had played since 1972 in organisation/administration/marking of 3rd Year Projects (900 reports read over the years!).
However I planned to retain a small presence in the Department by coming in two or three mornings a week to help out my wife, Professor Hilary J. Kahn, in the organisation of the 50th Anniversary celebrations, in particular looking after the www.computer50.org Web Pages, including those on the Mark 1 created by Joanne Allison, and the Virtual Museum pages created by Kulwinder Gill. Joanne and Kulwinder had both now left the department.
In practice I substantially revised and extended the Mark 1 pages and the sections of the Virtual Museum relating to the Mark 1, and combined them. And the work involved a lot of research into the history of the Mark 1 and early computer history in general. In addition I made a significant contribution to the CD-ROM, and spent time vetting a lot of the words written by other people about the history. I also wrote a paper to replace Tom Kilburn's scheduled talk at the Paderborn conference on the History of Computing in August 1998.
In the end I reckon I worked half-time (unpaid) in 1998, building up to full time the 2 months before the Celebrations.
Never mind. In 1999 I indeed cut down my attendance to about 2 mornings a week, and in fact now that I am well set up with facilities at home I rarely come in to the department. However, I am still actively maintaining the computer50 website, occasionally adding to it, and being involved in other activities related to preserving and explaining the early history of the department.