• Mar 9, 1930
    (b.) -
    Dec 18, 2003
    (d.)

Bio/Description

John Gosden, software pioneer, died in New York on December 18th 2003 at the age of 73. John joined J. Lyons as a trainee programmer in 1953 just a few weeks after I joined the LEO team. He had just come down from Cambridge where he had taken a mathematics degree at Corpus Christi College. He showed an immediate understanding of what it takes to make a computer perform and rapidly outstripped my own tentative attempts at programming. At the time the small LEO team were working on some of the world’s first business applications using the most elementary systems software and on a computer which by modern standards was risible. John became involved in the design and implementation of a variety of applications, ranging from the technical, business, statistical and systems software. He displayed a special flair for innovative, but always practical, design. By the time he left LEO six years later he had outlined a full body of systems software which those who followed him used as a blueprint for years to come. His work on the systems software regime for the LEO III permitted that system to run several programs at the same time. He also played an important part in specifying the language CLEO which many say was superior to the widely accepted COBOL language. John Gosden left LEO for the United States. Until his retirement he enjoyed a most successful and influential career in the computer field. In 1960 he joined the Auerbach Corporation in the United States working on the Auerbach EDP Reports, at the time regarded as essential reading for any Chief Information Officer. Later, at the Mitre Corporation he was responsible for planning the data-base requirements for the Joint Chiefs of Staff and at the Equitable Life Assurance Society of New York he was VP responsible for major projects and policy. John’s work received widespread recognition and he was a popular keynote speaker at many conferences. Amongst other activities over the years he chaired a committee advising on White House support systems. Well into his retirement he advised the Museum of Modern Art and the Cornell Medical Centre on their data base systems. John remained very close to his LEO roots returning frequently to this country to join LEO Reunions. He was involved as Associate Editor in the publication of ‘Leo: The Incredible Story of the World’s First Business Computer’ (McGraw-Hill) and contributed a chapter entitled ‘Toward Systems Software’. Despite failing health he journeyed from Manhattan to London to contribute to the fiftieth anniversary celebrations of the first business computer application at the London Guildhall. Frank Land, FBCS, FAIS Emeritus Professor in the Department of Information Systems London School of Economics 14th January 2004