Strachey, Christopher

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b. 16 November 1916 England
d. 18 May 1975 Oxford, England
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English physicist and computer engineer who proposed time-sharing as a more efficient means of using a mainframe computer.
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After education at Gresham's School, London, Strachey went to King's College, Cambridge, where he completed an MA. In 1937 he took up a post as a physicist at the Standard Telephone and Cable Company, then during the Second World War he was involved in radar research. In 1944 he became an assistant master at St Edmunds School, Canterbury, moving to Harrow School in 1948. Another change of career in 1951 saw him working as a Technical Officer with the National Research and Development Corporation, where he was involved in computer software and hardware design. From 1958 until 1962 he was an independent consultant in computer design, and during this time (1959) he realized that as mainframe computers were by then much faster than their human operators, their efficiency could be significantly increased by "time-sharing" the tasks of several operators in rapid succession. Strachey made many contributions to computer technology, being variously involved in the design of the Manchester University MkI, Elliot and Ferranti Pegasus computers. In 1962 he joined Cambridge University Mathematics Laboratory as a senior research fellow at Churchill College and helped to develop the programming language CPL. After a brief period as Visiting Lecturer at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he returned to the UK in 1966 as Reader in Computation and Fellow of Wolfeon College, Oxford, to establish a programming research group. He remained there until his death.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
Distinguished Fellow of the British Computer Society 1972.
Bibliography
1961, with M.R.Wilkes, "Some proposals for improving the efficiency of Algol 60", Communications of the ACM 4:488.
1966, "Systems analysis and programming", Scientific American 25:112. 1976, with R.E.Milne, A Theory of Programming Language Semantics.
Further Reading
J.Alton, 1980, Catalogue of the Papers of C. Strachey 1916–1975.
M.Campbell-Kelly, 1985, "Christopher Strachey 1916–1975. A biographical note", Annals of the History of Computing 7:19.
M.R.Williams, 1985, A History of Computing Technology, London: Prentice-Hall.
KF

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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