Tuesday, July 3, 2018

So, modern programmers, you think that you have it tough

Garry Tee, who has long been associated with University of Auckland Mathematics and Computer Science Department is going to fully retire this August, aged 86. Garry topped the NZ scholarship exams in 1948 and graduated from the University of Auckland with a First class Masters degree in Mathematics. Among his many adventures, he worked for English Electric at Whetstone, Leicestershire in the UK from 1958 to 1964 as a Mathematician/programmer using the DEUCE computers. These were direct descendants of Turing’s 1946 designs for the ACE.

To start with, Garry programmed the DEUCE in binary machine language as a sequence of 32-bit words. Working programs were published as research reports and, luckily, Garry has preserved some of these. Below is an extract from one of his programs. The instruction code words were expressed as 4 decimal fields, with the card punch operators converting them mentally to binary, in passing. Turing predicted in 1945 that programming would be done by Mathematicians. That was certainly a skill needed for the DEUCE!