Department of Computing and Electronic Systems

Former Staff

Emeritus Professor Simon Lavington

M.Sc., Ph.D., FIEE, FBCS, C.Eng

Professor Simon Lavington


I graduated in Electrical Engineering from Manchester University in 1962.  After obtaining a Ph.D. for automatic speech recognition using the Atlas computer, I became a member of Tom Kilburn’s MU5 high-performance design team. The computers built at Manchester in the 1960s and 70s achieved several world firsts. From 1986 I was a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Essex, specialising in Systems Architectures. My research interests focussed on the hardware and software for parallel information processing. One of my projects at Essex, the Intelligent File Store (IFS), attracted over £1 million in research grants and was awarded a British Computer Society Silver Medal for Technical Achievement. The IFS project was completed in 1996, after which I worked on parallel techniques for Knowledge Discovery in Databases ('data mining') and interactive video over congested IP networks.  I retired in July 2002.

I now pursue research into computer history, a hobby I have had since 1968.  I am a committee member of the Computer Conservation Society and am working on a CCS archival project.  I organised the 50th Anniversary celebrations for the Ferranti Atlas computer.

I am particularly interested in early British computers built during the period 1945 – 1970.  Amongst my historical publications are:

A History of Manchester Computers.  Published by the National Computing Centre, 1976.  Second edition published by the British Computer Society, 1998.  ISBN: 0-902505-01-8.

Early British Computers.  Published by Manchester University Press, 1980.  ISBN: 0-7190-0803-4 and 0-7190-0810-7. Now out of print, but see:

The Pegasus story, a history of a vintage British computer.  Published by the Science Museum, London, 2000.  ISBN:1-900747-40-5.  See :  Pegasus - a Vintage British Computer

Moving Targets: Elliott-Automation and the dawn of the computer age in Britain, 1947 – 67. Published by Springer, 2011.  ISBN: 978-1-84882-932-9.  

Alan Turing and his contemporaries: building the world’s first computers. Published by the British Computer Society, 2012.  ISBN: 978-1-90612-490-8.

Early Computing in Britain: Ferranti Ltd. and Government Funding, 1948 — 1958. Published by Springer, 2019.  ISBN: 978-3-030-15102-7.

School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering