Maurice Vincent Wilkes



Maurice Vincent Wilkes was born on June 26, 1913 the son of Vincent J. Wilkes in Dudley, Staffordshire, England. Wilkes's mother is not mentioned by name, but Wilkes does say she was a typist.  Wilkes suffered from asthma as a child.  The family relocated to Stourbridge for his mother's health.  Wilkes graduated from King Edward VI Grammar School in Stourbridge in 1931 and began studies at St. John's College, Cambridge.  In 1934 Wilkes graduated with honors in mathematics.  He used a research grant from the department of scientific and industrial research to study long radio waves in the Cavendish Laboratories at Cambridge.  In 1936 he received  Ph.D. for his work with long radio waves.  In 1937, he accepted a junior faculty position at Cambridge, where he was to work in the newly approved 
"Mathematical Laboratory" which was to be a computer lab for mathematics.  From 1939 to 1945 Wilkes worked on radar for the war effort.  When he returned to Cambridge in 1945 it was a head of the mathematical laboratory.  Wilkes read von Neumann's "First Draft" report on EDVAC and attended the Moore School Summer Institute on "Theory and Techniques for Design of Electronic Digital Computers."   From his return to Cambridge in 1946 until 1949, Wilkes and the mathematical laboratory worked to build EDSAC, a stored program computer.  EDSAC's first successful operations occurred on May 6, 1949.  During this period (1947) Wilkes married Nina Twyman.

Wilkes and his lab next built EDSAC 2, which they completed in1958.   EDSAC 2 introduced the innovation of microprograming.  Wilkes retired from Cambridge and as head of the Mathematical Laboratory in 1980. He joined Digital Equipment Corporation fro 1980 to1986. In 1986 he became Member for Research Strategy on the Olivetti Research Board. In 1993 Cambridge honored Wilkes with a Doctor of Science degree. 



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