Authorised form of nameWilkes; Sir; Maurice Vincent (1913 - 2010)
Dates1913 - 2010
Place of birthDudley, Worcestershire, England
Date of birth26/06/1913
Date of death29/11/2010
Emeritus Professor of Computer Technology in the University of Cambridge; He was a founder member of the British Computer Society (BCS) and its first president (1957-1960). Wilkes received the Turing Award in 1967, with the following citation: 'Professor Wilkes is best known as the builder and designer of the EDSAC, the first computer with an internally stored program. Built in 1949, the EDSAC used a mercury delay line memory. He is also known as the author, with Wheeler and Gill, of a volume on "Preparation of Programs for Electronic Digital Computers" in 1951, in which program libraries were effectively introduced.'
In 1968 he received the Harry H. Goode Memorial Award, with the following citation: 'For his many original achievements in the computer field, both in engineering and software, and for his contributions to the growth of professional society activities and to international cooperation among computer professionals. '
Toward the end of the 1960s, Wilkes also became interested in capability-based computing, and the laboratory assembled a unique computer, the Cambridge CAP. In 1974 Wilkes encountered a Swiss data network (at Hasler AG) that used a ring topology to allocate time on the network. The laboratory initially used a prototype to share peripherals. Eventually, commercial partnerships were formed, and similar technology became widely available in England. In 1980 he retired from his professorships and post as the Head of the laboratory and joined the central engineering staff of Digital Equipment Corporation in Maynard, Massachusetts. In 1986 Wilkes returned to England, and became a member of Olivetti's Research Strategy Board. In 1993 Wilkes was presented, by Cambridge University, an honorary Doctor of Science degree. In 1994 he was inducted as a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery. He was knighted in the 2000 New Year Honours List. In 2002, Wilkes moved back to the Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge, as an Emeritus Professor.

Wilkes is reputed to have said, "I can remember the exact instant when I realized that a large part of my life from then on was going to be spent in finding mistakes in my own programs."
Kt 2000
Membership categoryFellow
Date of election15/03/1956
Age at election42
Royal Society activityLectures:
Clifford Paterson 1990
Biographical Memoirs, Vol 60, December 2014, pp 433 - 454
Maurice V Wilkes, 'Historical Studies in Science and Technology and the Uses to which They can be Put' in NR 1999 vol 53 pp 3-10
F R N Nabarro, 'A scientist of the Commonwealth. Schonland, scientist and soldier, by B Austin' in NR 2002 vol 56 pp 396-398
M V Wilkes, 'Charles Babbage and his world' in NR 2002 vol 56 pp 353-365
Royal Society codeNA7245
Archives associated with this Fellow
Reference numberTitleDate
PB/2/2/7/1/2Letter from Sir Edward Appleton (20 February 1940) on 'alternative explanation of the correlation of cosmic ray diminution and magnetic storm'1940-1947
EC/1956/23Wilkes, Sir Maurice Vincent: certificate of election to the Royal Society
IM/004909Wilkes, Maurice Vincentnd
RR/57/102Referee's report by William Henry Eccles, on a paper 'Experimental investigations of very long waves reflected from the ionosphere' by J E Best, John Ashworth Ratcliffe and Maurice Vincent Wilkes[May 1936]
RR/70/244Referee's report by Sydney Chapman, on a paper 'Atmospheric oscillations and the resonance theory' by K Weekes and Maurice Vincent Wilkes1947
RR/66/332Letter from H Wooldridge, to John David Griffith Davies, regarding a paper 'The theory of reflexion of very long wireless waves from the ionosphere' by Maurice Vincent Wilkes31 January 1940
IM/GA/WS/5042Wilkes, Sir Maurice Vincentnd
IM/GA/GRS/6298Wilkes, Sir Maurice Vincentnd
RR/66/333Referee's report by Thomas Lydwell Eckersley, on a paper 'The theory of reflexion of very long wireless waves from the ionosphere' by Maurice Vincent Wilkes[October 1939]
RR/65/48Referee's report by Thomas Lydwell Eckersley, on a paper 'Further investigations of very long waves reflected from the ionosphere' by Kenneth George Budden, John Ashworth Ratcliffe and Maurice Vincent WilkesDecember 1938
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