Major donation given to University’s History of Computing Collection

Swansea University’s History of Computing Collection has received a major donation of notes, papers and books that belonged to computational pioneer Leslie John Comrie FRS (1893-1950).

Leslie Comrie FRSComrie was the doyen of numerical computation and simulation in the age before digital computers. He set new high standards of analysis and accuracy in many areas of science and engineering modelling and developed large scale computation by mechanical devices.  Comrie also introduced computational methods as an independent topic in the 1920s and is popularly known for his impeccable mathematical tables. The donation to the University includes several rare volumes by Comrie and other leading table makers.

The History of Computing Collection (HOCC) is a long-term collaboration between the College of Science and ISS, directed by Professor John Tucker and Steve Williams. With this donation the History of Computing Collection has an invaluable resource for students of numerical methods and their application and, in particular, of the struggle for the world to recreate itself in mathematics and data.

Leslie John Comrie was a New Zealander who came to the UK to fight in the First World War, in which he was seriously wounded and his brother killed.  His scientific path passed through Auckland, Cambridge, Columbia, public bodies such as the Nautical Almanac Office, and finally to his own computing bureau, the company the Scientific Computing Service.

John TuckerProfessor Tucker said: “We are delighted to have this important collection at the HOCC. Comrie had a prolific and important career. He trained as a chemist and was especially interested in astronomic calculations – a lunar crater and an asteroid are named for him. However, his work on computation was universal and he made many important contributions in the course of Second World War. In engineering and industry, Comrie helped lay the basis of our contemporary abilities in simulation.”