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John Winterbottom: Memoir

Reminiscences in 2 parts. Part 1 Life with LEO, part 2 pre and post LEO career.
Joined LEO: 1960
Role in LEO: Design Engineer working with John Pinkerton

Abstract: John had a long career as a design engineer in the electronics industry, starting as electrician in the RAF after leaving School having specialised in Science and Maths. Followed up with Degree at Durham University. Later took MSc at Birmingham specialising in solid state physics and digital computing.

Employed first by Lucas/CAV and then MIRA was head hunted to join the Data Recording and Instrument Company as Chief Engineer, a company associated with ICT. Left after contract dispute in 1960 to join LEO to work with John Pinkerton. Associated with a number of high level projects including a Government sponsored project on data transmission for the coming network age. Also heavily involved with the establishment of standards working with ECMA. 

Left LEO in 1969 as he felt the creation of ICL had emasculated the innovative LEO research team. Joined Farrington – another specialist in data recording, working partly in the USA. Finished career working in management department of Portsmouth Polytechnic. 

John provides a fascinating account of life as an enthusiastic design engineer as well as his appraisal of the people he worked with at LEO.

(Full memoir to be added.)

Anne Moggridge, eldest daughter of John and Joy Winterbottom, wrote an obituary for her father including these extracts: John Winterbottom spent almost 10 years working for LEO through its various reconfigurations, incorporating English Electric and Marconi, until further consolidation of the industry led to the merger with ICT and formation of ICL.  He joined LEO in 1960, working at Minerva Road as a Design Engineer under John Pinkerton.  He was involved in a wide range of research and development projects and regularly attended meetings of ECMA and later IEE standards committees.  Although John was an engineer by training and at heart, he was fascinated by the business opportunities that computing technology offered and the potential of improved interface design and speech recognition in facilitating interaction with machines.  

Along with a number of colleagues, John left Minerva Road in 1969, shortly before the site was closed following the creation of ICL.  He became General Manager (Engineering and Manufacture) with Farrington, an American data processing company which had a UK base in Havant, Hants at the time and whilst he enjoyed the many opportunities to spend time in the US that came with the job, they were short-lived as Farrington closed its UK operation in 1971...John and his family have many fond memories of his time at LEO, including occasional visits to Minerva Road, and became particularly good friends with Ernest Lenaerts and his wife Gladys.  “Uncle Len”, as he was known to us, provided us with a supply of coloured paper tape to make into paper chains and delighted us all by somehow punching onto tape a repeating Happy Christmas message to us all one year.  Joy Winterbottom, John’s widow, has recently written to the society to say that John looked back with great pleasure to his days with LEO; he had many lasting friendships with colleagues from those days and thoroughly enjoyed the early LEO reunions.

Date : Unknown

Creator : LEO

This exhibit has a reference ID of CH53416. Please quote this reference ID in any communication with the Centre for Computing History.

John Winterbottom: Memoir

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