Computer History Museum: Maurice Wilkes and struggles at DEC

If you're not familiar with the Computer History Museum, they have a YouTube channel that is a treasure trove of interviews, presentations, documentaries (both contemporary and historical) and many other videos for any computing enthusiast.

One of their latest videos is a tribute to Maurice Wilkes (who died recently) in the form of an interview with one of his colleagues, David Hartley. There are excerpts from Wilkes's memoirs and personal recollections of Hartley. Some things talked about include:

  • Wilkes's friendship and personal tension with his contemporary Alan Turing.
  • The complete freedom granted Wilkes by his university to pursue whatever he wanted, which he used to build the revolutionary EDSAC. Oh, for that level of academic freedom today!
  • Being the (co-)discoverer of debugging.
  • Footage of Wilkes's final ever presentation.

I also can't resist pointing you to this gem called DEC's PC Challenge. It's a great corporate video from 1982 following people at DEC as they tried to enter the PC market. At this time, DEC ruled the minicomputer sector, but failed to make much of a dent in personal computers in the 80s. This video, stocked full of --ahem-- characters, might explain why.




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