Obituary: Gordon Alan Foulger (1942-2011)

1 December 2011

Gordon Alan Foulger Gordon Alan Foulger MBCS CITP, past Secretary of the Glasgow Branch of BCS, died on 21st November 2011 aged 69. He joined the BCS in 1966 and was a life member.

Gordon was born at Crayford in Kent and educated at Dartford Grammar School where he was in the year above Mick Jagger. After a science degree at Queen Mary College University of London, he joined English Electric LEO in 1963 as a trainee programmer working on LEO III at the Post Office. This was the newly formed joint venture of LEO Computers Ltd and English Electric. He also worked on a prototype records system for the Premium Bonds section of National Savings in Lytham St Annes before becoming a senior programmer on the National Giro project, which used System 4s.

A move to the ICL Real Time Department and some early work on CRT terminals was followed by working for EMI where he was part of a small team that produced online systems for EMI Records. In 1978 he became a Database Consultant with Honeywell Control Systems in Bracknell and later in Motherwell.

After moving house from Bracknell to Cumbernauld Gordon became actively involved with BCS Glasgow Branch and served on the Branch committee from 2001 to 2005. He was Branch Secretary from 2002 to 2004 and also represented the Branch at Branches Congress meetings in London.

Gordon retired from Honeywell in 2006 and continued his regular support of BCS Glasgow Branch events often accompanied by his wife Kay. In January 2010 he gave a memorable talk to BCS members on how and why a bakery company known for its teashops developed and built the world's first business computer which was based on the Cambridge University EDSAC. It was amazing how many ‘outsiders’ came along, with their collection of LEO memorabilia, to hear Gordon give a history of the thermionic valve LEO I and II machines. He related how LEO III, completed in 1961, was the first solid-state machine using transistors with another innovation being the use of ferrite cores for memory and was micro-programmed and controlled by a multi-tasking operating system.

LEO Reunion 2010 Copyright LEO Computers Society

Gordon was also an active member of the LEO Computers Society and in November 2010 he gave a talk to the Computer Conservation Society in Manchester. The above photo was taken at the LEO Computers Society Reunion in April 2010 and shows Gordon (in white shirt) in the centre of the picture smiling as ever.

Gordon was well known for his infectious enthusiasm for computer conservation and my lasting memory is his delight at The Telegraph article of 10th November 2011 celebrating the 60th Anniversary of LEO, "How a chain of tea shops kickstarted the computer age".

Gordon is survived by his wife Kay and two sons Kevin and Duncan.

A memorial service will be held at Cornerstone House, 1 Esk Walk, Town Centre, Cumbernauld G67 1EW, on the 5th December 2011 at 7:30 pm.

A thanksgiving service for his life will be held at Kerith Community Church, (formally Bracknell Family Church), Church Road, Bracknell, Berkshire, RG12 1EH, on 14th December, at 12 noon followed by a burial at Easthampstead Park Crematorium, Bracknell. Flowers and donations if desired. Please send donations to Barnabus Fund, in memory of Gordon A Foulger. To give online, please visit: http://www.barnabasfund.org/UK/Donate/Donate-online/

Also if desired to The Colossus Gallery Fund in Memory of Gordon A Foulger MBCS CITP. Please specify the late Tony Sale’s Colossus Gallery Fund, The National Museum of Computing, Block H, Bletchley Park, MILTON KEYNES MK3 6EB.

To give online, please visit: http://www.justgiving.com/Mr-Tony-Sale

James Penn-Dunnett