Interview with Dennis Blackwell

Dennis Blackwell was a key figure in the British computer industry for over 50 years, in a career that spanned and contributed to some of the most important commercial initiatives of the period. He worked for the UK flagship manufacturer, ICL, and its forbears for 25 of those, starting with English Electric in 1959 and contributed to industry institutions including the British Computer Society (now known as BCS) and the Worshipful Company of information Technologists.

Dennis was instrumental in the creation of ICL by merger of its components, being a member of the Working Party on a New Range of Computing Systems, terms of reference for which are included in his archive. He was a director of the resulting  company in its formative years as Director of Systems Programming, ICL, responsible for addressing issues such as the strategy for the “next British computer” and setting up the ICL “software house” Dataskil. Dennis was also influential in other trade and standards bodies including the British Standards Institute and the British Approvals Board for Telecomms.

We are fortunate that Dennis took the trouble to record his oral history, which includes many insights to the industry and personal recollections about people and events.  The abstract below is a much condensed summary of his life and career.  The full transcript tells a lot more.  But this is also just the tip of an iceberg of documentary history with papers that Dennis saved and collected, telling the story of the industry and a fascinating individual over more than 80 years.  We will be working on analysing, reporting and displaying the story over the coming months.