[SIGCIS-Members] Kelly Gotlieb Obituary

Brian Randell brian.randell at newcastle.ac.uk
Fri Nov 4 08:03:59 PDT 2016


Hi:

>From the (Toronto) Globe and Mail:

The father of Canadian computing
U of T professor found new uses for computers, ranging from library systems to designing jet planes
BILL ATKINSON
Special to The Globe and Mail
November 4, 2016
Computing pioneer Kelly Gotlieb was quintessentially Canadian in that he united high technical achievement with a low public profile. Leaders in the field of digital computation, however, have long regarded the University of Toronto professor emeritus, who died on Oct. 16 at the age of 95, as the father of Canadian computer science.

In 1948, just a year after receiving his doctorate, Dr. Gotlieb helped establish the country's first computation centre, at the University of Toronto, and in 1952, he imported Canada's earliest digital computer, FERUT, to his new lab. This 800-pound thermionic-tube-filled monster was the second of its kind to be produced by the British firm Ferranti Electric Co. (FERUT is an acronym for 'FERranti U of T').

With FERUT up and running, Dr. Gotlieb collaborated with the University of Saskatchewan to process research data digitally.

U of S sent metres of paper tape by Teletype to U of T over analog phone lines, encoding gigabytes of raw data. Dr. Gotlieb's computation centre fed this into FERUT, which in mere hours had analytical output, also on paper tape, that was then sent back to U of S. The process was lightning-fast compared with previous snail-mail turnaround times of up to four months.

When the university established its Department of Computer Science in 1964 (for graduate students only), Dr. Gotlieb was appointed its first director. By that point, he had already distinguished himself in digital computation, calculating the dynamic stability of designs for the new Avro Arrow fighter plane and modelling the hydrological consequences of various configurations for the St. Lawrence Seaway then being mooted. Dr. Gotlieb's calculations so reassured the U.S. Congress that it reversed its initial opposition to the Seaway, for the first time opening the industrial and agricultural heartland of North America to global seaborne trade.
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Full story at http://v1.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20161104.OBGOTLIEB/BDAStory/BDA/deaths

Cheers

Brian Randell

--
School of Computing Science, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne,
NE1 7RU, UK
EMAIL = Brian.Randell at ncl.ac.uk   PHONE = +44 191 208 7923
FAX = +44 191 208 8232  URL = http://www.ncl.ac.uk/computing/people/profile/brianrandell.html



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