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Department of Computer Science and Technology




Davis Wheeler

David Wheeler, FRS
Emeritus Professor of Computer Science
Fellow of Darwin College
9 February 1927 – 13 December 2004

Professor David Wheeler was one of the pioneers of Computer Science. He worked on the original EDSAC computer and wrote the first computer program ever to be stored in a computer’s working memory. He pioneered the use of sub-routines and is particularly remembered for his work on data compression.

David Wheeler was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1981, one of the earliest computer scientists to be so honoured. In October 2003, he was made a Fellow of the Computer History Museum for his invention of the closed subroutine, his architectural contributions to the ILLIAC, the Cambridge Ring, and computer testing.

David started his PhD in the University of Cambridge's Computer Laboratory (then the Mathematical Laboratory) in the late 1940s, graduating in 1951. He then spent time at the University of Illinois before returning to the UK. He continued to work in the Computer Lab right up until his death, a decade after he had officially retired.

David will be remembered for his vast knowledge of all areas of computing, for his willingness to talk with anyone about the things which interested him, for his friendliness and for his humility. David was an inspiration and a help to hundreds of students and colleagues over his long career. His legacy is as much in the lives he touched as in the work he published. We have lost a good man and a friend. He will be missed.

A Celebration of David Wheeler

The Computer Laboratory held a series of short talks and discussion to commemorate David on 18 April 2005, starting at 14:30 in LT1.


David Hartley & David BarronEDSAC and TITAN
Andy HopperCommunications
Bjarne StroustrupProgramming L anguages
Andy HerbertSoftware
Mike BurrowsCompression
Ross AndersonSecurity
Maurice WilkesConcluding Remarks