[SIGCIS-Members] Percy Ludgate, Irish Computer Pioneer

Brian Randell brian.randell at newcastle.ac.uk
Sun Sep 15 10:14:39 PDT 2019


In recent years Dr Brian Coghlan, who is in charge of Trinity College’s very impressive and extensive John Gabriel Byrne Computer Science Collection (https://www.scss.tcd.ie/SCSSTreasuresCatalog/), has led a small enthusiastic informal group of people energetically researching the life and work of Percy Ludgate (1883-1922),.

Percy Ludgate is the first person known to have followed in Charles Babbage’s footsteps. Many years ago I had stumbled across a reference to his work. I published an account of my attempt to find out about him and had reprinted, in my book The Origins of Digital Computers: Selected Papers (Springer-Verlag 1973), the one detailed published account of his Analytical Machine that I had found he had written. I had done little further investigation thereafter, until I was contacted by Brian, almost three years ago. Since then I have been a minor contributor to the work of Brian and his team, and am greatly impressed by the amount of further information they have found about Ludgate and his family.  

Brian gave a fascinating summary account of the team's research at the recent West Cork History Festival. An mp4 video of his presentation as well as other relevant documentation, is at: https://www.scss.tcd.ie/SCSSTreasuresCatalog/miscellany/TCD-SCSS-X.20121208.002/

A PDF of his Powerpoint presentation can be found at:

This details all the information that has been found about Ludgate and his family, and lists numerous outstanding queries. Needless to say, help in answering any of these queries will be very welcome.


Brian Randell


School of Computing, Newcastle University, 1 Science Square, 
Newcastle upon Tyne, NE4 5TG
EMAIL = Brian.Randell at ncl.ac.uk   PHONE = +44 191 208 7923
URL = http://www.ncl.ac.uk/computing/people/profile/brianrandell.html

More information about the Members mailing list