Catalogue description Report on the papers of Dr. Stanley Gill (1926-1975)

This record is held by Science Museum Library and Archives

Details of CSAC 57.1.78
Reference: CSAC 57.1.78
Title: Report on the papers of Dr. Stanley Gill (1926-1975)

Most of the papers date from 1960-1975


A. Biographical and personal A.1 - A.19


B. Working Papers B.1 - B.24


C. Lectures, broadcasts, overseas visits, publications C.1 - C.54


C.1-C.24 Lectures, addresses, conference talks


C.25-C.30 Television/radio broadcasts


C.31-C.36 Overseas visits


C.37-C.54 Publications


D. Committees and Consultancies (see detailed index on p.28) D.1 - D.58


E. Imperial College, London E.1 - E.14


F. Ministry of Technology/Department of Trade and Industry F.1 - F.12


G. Computer Policy G.1 - G.36


H. Miles Roman (see introductory note on p.58) H.1 - H.21


I. Correspondence I.1 - I.6


Compiled by Jeannine Alton and Harriot Weiskittel


The advice very generously given by Professor A.S. Douglas, Dr. R.G. Wilson and Dr. A. Hyman on various aspects of the collection is gratefully acknowledged.

Date: 1947 - 1975
Held by: Science Museum Library and Archives, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Gill, Stanley, 1926-1975, scientist and computer scientist

Physical description: 244 files
Access conditions:

Not all the papers will be immediately available to readers.

Immediate source of acquisition:

The papers were received from Mrs. A. Gill (widow), Professor A.S. Douglas and Mr. M. Woodger.

  • Computer programming
Administrative / biographical background:

Stanley Gill's career involved him in the academic, commercial and political aspects of computing. He was Professor of Computing Science at Imperial College, London, 1964-70 (Section E), a consultant to International Computers Limited, 1964-65 and 1968-70 (D.29-D.39), and to the Ministry of Technology, 1966-69 (Section F), a founding member of the British Computer Society and its President, 1967-68 (D.6-D.17), U.K. representative on the General Assembly of the International Federation for Information Processing, 1963-69 (D.46-D.57) and served on numerous official committees. (See summary of career on p.21)


From 1946-48 Gill was employed at the National Physical Laboratory on punched card computing and the design of the Pilot ACE. The only record of this work is a 1 p. note 'A.C.E. Problems', 21 November 1947, which was kindly supplied by Mr. M. Woodger of the NPL. This note (see A.2) lists the various technical difficulties associated with the design of the Pilot ACE and alongside the 'problems' the names of NPL employees given responsibility for dealing with them. Gill was responsible for 'Divider circuits'. Mr. Woodger also supplied a photocopy of those portions of the proceedings of two conferences held at the NPL in which Gill took part. The 1953 Symposium on Automatic Digital Computation (25-28 March) was the third of its kind in the country, the first having been held in Cambridge in June 1949, and the second in Manchester in July 1951. Gill and E.N. Mutch presented a paper on 'Conversion Routines' (pp. 74-80 of the proceedings) and Gill presented a second paper 'Getting Programmes Right' (pp.80-83 of the proceedings). At the 1958 Symposium on the Mechanisation of Thought Processes (24-27 November) Gill presented a paper on 'Possibilities for the Practical Utilisation of Learning Processes' (pp.827-833 of the proceedings). Mr. Woodger retains a 1947 laboratory notebook of Gill and the 2nd report on ACE, June 1949, 'Description of Hollerith Input and Output for the Pilot Model'.


In the autumn of 1949 Gill began research at the Mathematical Laboratory, Cambridge, where he studied programming with Dr. (now Professor) M.V. Wilkes and Dr. D.J. Wheeler. See C.54 for a copy of their book The Preparation of Programs for an Electronic Digital Computer published in 1951. A.3 is a copy of Gill's doctoral thesis 'The Application of an Electronic Digital Computer to Problems in Mathematics and Physics' submitted in November 1952. Chapter 2 of his thesis 'A Process for the step-by-step integration of differential equations' was substantially the same as a paper published by Gill in Proc. Camb. Phil. Soc., 47, 96 (1951) and Chapter 8 'The Diagnosis of mistakes in programming' was published in Proc. Roy. Soc. A, 206, 538 (1951). Very little else remains of his early career (see A.4-A.6 and C.1-C.3 for material relating to Gill's year in USA 1953-54), but numerous letters throughout the collection amply testify to the friendly relationships he maintained with former colleagues at NPL, Cambridge and Ferranti Limited (see especially D.29-D.39) during the whole of his career.


Gill was keenly interested in 'computer policy' and wrote and lectured prolifically on this subject. His extensive correspondence and his collection of press-cuttings, commercial and political reports, committee papers etc. provide useful material for documenting the turbulent history of computer developments in Britain. Section G has been titled 'Computer Policy' but Gill's deep conviction that computer technology was vitally important to Britain, and his efforts to secure a strong position for it, are dominant themes throughout the collection and appear in every section.


Section B contains many files of notes, working papers and correspondence relating to the four-colour problem on which Gill was working at the time of his death.


Summary of career


1926 b. Worthing.


1935-43 educ. Worthing High School.


1943-45 & 1948-49 St. John's College, Cambridge.


1946-48 Assistant Experimental Officer, National Physical Laboratory.


1949-53 Research Student, University Mathematical Laboratory, Cambridge.


1952 Ph.D. Cambridge.


1952-55 Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge.


1953-54 Visiting Assistant Professor, University of Illinois, U.S.A., Visiting Lecturer, M.I.T.


1955-64 Computer Department, Ferranti Ltd., London (became part of International Computers & Tabulators, 1963).


1963-64 Part-time Professor of Automatic Data Processing, College of Science & Technology, University of Manchester.


1963-69 U.K. representative on the General Assembly of the International Federation for Information Processing.


1964-70 Professor of Computing Science, Imperial College, London, and Director of the Centre for Computing and Automation.


1966-70 Adviser on computers to the Minister of Technology.


1967-68 President of the British Computer Society.


1970-71 Director of various companies in the Miles Roman group, London (Software Sciences Holdings, Software Sciences, Zeus Hermes, Computer Typesetting).


1972-75 PA International Management Consultants Ltd.

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