I’m immensely proud of this paper.
Thank you Prof. David Duce and Prof. Bob Hopgood. Thank you also to Dr. Victoria Marshall, for engineering the collaboration. I seem to have put Tony’s work in the right hands. : )
Now my job (in this eBook of mine), is to show the work to an audience who don’t necessarily have any coding knowledge, but are inspired by innovators, mavericks, makers and modest pioneers with a sense of humour. People who struggled on, cutting a course through unchartered territories – creating the pathways that others can follow.
Above: In 1963, Harold Wilson aired his plans for a ‘University of The Air’. (More info in the YouTube video description.)
Rewinding back to the 1940’s/’50’s: Tony had a tough time of it at school. He was a nerdy kid who was bullied. No longer able to continue at Eton, he ended up at an ESN school, ‘for the educationally subnormal’. He failed to get the grades he required, and as a young man, felt very lost, “rock bottom” and “on the scrap heap”.
Despite best efforts to get back on course he was labelled ‘a drifter’. I got the impression that this really hurt my friend. But – luckily for him and animation, at the age of 25 he drifted into computing – and didn’t stop drifting his entire career…
In the clip above, TP describes his “all over the place” career path as “much more interesting than going straight ahead”. I must add here that Tony excused his parent’s criticism, citing that their generation’s get a job for life / climb the career ladder ethos was “all they knew”.
In ancient Greek the word for ‘steer’ is ‘kybernan’ which in turn forms the root of the term ‘cybernetics’ coined 1948 by U.S. mathematician Norbert Wiener. In general, cybernetics is a transdisciplinary approach for exploring regulatory systems—their structures, constraints, and possibilities.
As someone who enjoys patterns and poetry, I can’t help thinking that it’s moving that Tony was an early advocate of education for all. I also can’t help enjoying the fact that the self-confessed “explorer” who had an “all over the place” career path’s first paid gig was drawing a random walk.
More about the job:
Nb. Bob thinks this could possibly be the first educational computer-generated educational chemistry simulation!
On 14 November 1967, a letter from David Roseveare, Schools Television Producer at the BBC, outlined the requirement for the random walk film. (A shorter note is pictured above for ease of blog-reading).
The project was to be created at a cost of £75 and gain approval from the Institute of Computer Science by 4 December, 1967. (Tony needed to borrow their Atlas super-computer again).
(At the time, Tony was working as Benedict Nixon’s research assistant – a post kindly created to allow him access to the Atlas computer.)
Most of the work on the project was completed by March 1968 with demonstration of the completed film. Final form regarding holds in the film were finalised (for when the presenter needed to speak over the film) in March 1968.
Huge thanks to Jez Stewart at The BFI for scanning some Random Walk footage. There will be more images from more scans including an entire project folder-full of materials in the eBook.