Dina St Johnston
Dina St Johnston
Born: 1930, Died: 2007
Dina St. Johnston was born Aldrina Nia Vaughan in 1930. She left school at age 17 and began working at the British Non-Ferrous Metals Research Association. While there, she continued her studies on a part-time basis, then in 1953 she went to work at the Borehamwood Laboratories of Elliott Brothers, an early computer company that had produced its first computer in 1950. It was here, and through the Cambridge Summer School on Programming, that Dina learned how to program. She would go on to work on EDSAC and the Elliott 400 and 800 series.
Dina recognised a gap in the market when she realised that there were no independent software companies selling programmes directly to industry. “There was a shortage of processor-oriented people who were happy to go round a steel works in a hard hat,” she said, so she founded Vaughan Programming Services in 1959.
Vaughan was the first software house in the UK and was the beginning of the independent software industry because the company was the first that was not part of a computer manufacturer nor a computer bureau but existed exclusively to create tailor-made software for its clients. Up until this point, there had been no software industry. Dina produced software for companies like the BBC, Unilever, and GEC, flight simulators for the RAF and software that provided real-time information for passengers on British Rail, the type of work for which the company became most well known.
Dina was still programming until the mid 1990s.
Dina St Johnston was one of the women profiled in our Women in Computing Festival 2017 of entitled Where Did All the Women Go?. Click here for the Women in Computing timeline created for that event.