Interview with Bob Hopgood

Professor Bob Hopgood is a veteran of UK computer science having worked in the field since the 1960s. His main interest being in computer graphics, where he played an important role in helping to devise standards.

Professor Hopgood has so much to contribute to this archive that his entry is in two parts. The first covers his life from his birth in 1935 until 1979. The second covers his teaching at Brunel University part time and on to his retirement.  Bob first encountered data processing at a women’s lingerie factory where, because he was known to be good at maths, he helped them part time while at school resolving accounting issues. 

He did his national Service in the RAF and read mathematics at Cambridge. He worked on computers at AERE and the Atomic Weapons Establishment using the Atlas Supercomputer from Ferranti and an ICT 1906A.  He learned Fortran and Algol.  He spent a year in the USA. On coming back to the UK, he was invited to lecture at Brunel University a day a week which he continued to do until 2002. 

He was instrumental in getting ICL to take up the PERQ workstation from the US vendor Three Rivers. He believes that the outcome of the project was a mistake, but others were also involved. His laboratory created the IT framework for the Alvey Project of Fifth Generation computing, which started in 1982. This provided researchers with networks, workstations and other computing facilities. He was instrumental in expanding the European Research Consortium in Informatics and Mathematics. 

He has trenchant views on the current wave of AI saying that if it cannot explain why it makes its suggestions it should not be trusted. He thinks that software engineering has got worse rather than better.

Bob Hopgood was interviewed by Richard Sharpe and his full interview will be available soon.

Bob Hopgood on A Year in the US

Bob Hopgood on the Atlas Lab

Bob Hopgood on Computing at Cambridge in the 1950s