Business Week 2012: Where do you keep your Booth multipliers? The story of Birkbeck's Computer Science Department
Speaker: Professor Roger Johnson
Andrew Booth first became involved in automatic calculators during WWII, whilst working on the determination of crystal structures using x-ray diffraction data. The computations involved were extremely tedious and there was ample incentive for automating the process. Booth was employed as a mathematical physicist at BRPRA, and moved to Birkbeck in 1945.
During this first year, Booth met Prof Hartree and began to think about the possibilities of general-purpose automatic digital computers. A visit to John von Neumann’s group in Princeton set Booth firmly on the design of a stored-program computer. As contemporary projects went, Booth’s group was probably the smallest in terms of resources and personnel, but despite these limitations, Booth produced and electronic stored-program computer in full operation at the Birkbeck College Computation Laboratory by the end of 1952 – some 60 years to date.
Roger Johnson is a Fellow of Birkbeck, and an Emeritus Reader in Computer Science.
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