David W. Barron

David W. Barron
Born (1935-01-09)9 January 1935[1]
Died 2 January 2012(2012-01-02) (aged 76)[2][3]
Southampton, Hampshire, England
Residence United Kingdom
Citizenship United Kingdom
Nationality British
Fields Physics
Computer Science
Institutions University of Cambridge Mathematical Laboratory
University of Southampton
British Computer Society
Doctoral students David De Roure (1990) [4]
Known for Ionospheric Studies
Programming Language Design and Implementation

David William Barron FBCS (9 January 1935 – 2 January 2012) was a British academic in Physics and Computer Science who was described in the Times Higher Education magazine as one of the "founding fathers" of computer science.[5]


He is survived by his wife, Valerie, and two children, Nik and Jacky.


Radio wave propagation

Barron's work with Henry Rishbeth on radio wave propagation[6][7] was pioneering in furthering the understanding of how radio waves were reflected at the ionospheric boundary.

Computer science

Barron began his academic career in Cambridge University where he took a PhD in the Cavendish Laboratory. His research involved very early work in computer applications and he was a user of the original EDSAC computer, the world's first stored-program electronic computer to go into general service.

After his PhD he joined the Cambridge Mathematical Laboratory and contributed to the development of the EDSAC 2 computer. In the early 1960s, he was leader of software development in the Titan project, a joint effort with Ferranti Ltd to develop a reduced version of the Atlas computer. In this role he led the Cambridge efforts to develop the Titan Supervisor (a multi-programming operating system) and CPL (Combined Programming Language). The Titan Supervisor led in due course to the Cambridge Multiple-Access System which provided a pioneering time-sharing service to a large user community in Cambridge and was also later employed in the Cambridge-based Computer Aided Design Centre. The CPL project broke new ground in language design and application generality, and the resulting defining paper was written by the original development team.[8] CPL was notable for leading to BCPL and hence B and then C programming language.

Barron left Cambridge in 1967 to take up a chair of computer science at the University of Southampton where he remained until his retirement in 2000. As a computer scientist, he contributed to many fields as computer science developed into a discipline of its own. At Southampton he continued his almost unique abilities in writing and lecturing. In 2009, on the 60th anniversary of the completion of the Cambridge EDSAC computer, he delivered a seminal lecture on what was involved in programming this pioneering machine in the 1950s.[9]

He was one of the founding editors of Software - Practice and Experience|, and served as the editor from 1971 for over 30 years.

Barron is the author of many texts that explained the emerging subject to generations of students and researchers. With others he published, in 1967, the manual for Titan Autocode programming.[10] In subsequent years Barron wrote texts on Recursive Programming[11] (1968), Assemblers and Loaders[12] (1969), Operating Systems[13][14] (1971 and 1984), Programming Languages[15] (1977), Pascal Implementation[16] (1981), Advanced Programming[17] (1984), Text Processing and Typesetting[18] (1987) and Scripting Languages[19] (2000).

On his personal web page Barron modestly described himself as "old-fashioned scholar, relic of the past".[20]


  1. Who's who of British scientists - John Grant - Google Books. Books.google.ca. Retrieved 2012-01-11.
  2. "Professor David Barron | In Memory and Celebration". Blogs.ecs.soton.ac.uk. 2012-01-02. Retrieved 2012-01-11.
  3. "David Barron, 1935-2012". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 3 February 2012.
  4. De Roure, David (1990). A Lisp environment for modelling distributed systems (PhD thesis). University of Southampton.
  5. http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storycode=418863
  6. H. Rishbeth and D. W. Barron, 1960, Equilibrium electron distributions in the ionospheric F2 layer, J. Atmos. Terr. Phys. 18, 234.
  7. D. W. Barron, 1959, The 'Waveguide mode' theory of radio wave propagation when the ionosphere is not sharply bounded, doi:10.1080/14786435908238287.
  8. D. W. Barron, J. N. Buxton, D. F. Hartley, E. Nixon, and C. Strachey. "The main features of CPL", The Computer Journal 6:2:134-143 (1963).full text (subscription)
  9. D. W. Barron "EDSAC: A Programmer Remembers", The Computer Journal in publication (2010).
  10. D. W. Barron et al., Titan Autocode programming manual, Cambridge, University Mathematical Laboratory, 1967.
  11. D. W. Barron, 1968, Recursive techniques in programming, Macdonald & Co.
  12. D. W. Barron, 1969, Assemblers and loaders, Elsevier North-Holland.
  13. D. W. Barron, 1971, Computer operating systems, Chapman and Hall.
  14. D. W. Barron, 1984, Computer operating systems : for micros, minis, and mainframes, Chapman and Hall.
  15. D. W. Barron, 1977, An introduction to the study of programming languages, Cambridge University Press.
  16. D. W. Barron, 1981, PASCAL : the language and its implementation, Wiley.
  17. D. W. Barron and J. M. Bishop, 1984, Advanced Programming: A Practical Course, Wiley.
  18. D. W. Barron and M Rees, 1987, Text processing and typesetting with Unix, Addison-Wesley.
  19. D. W. Barron, 2000, The world of scripting languages, Wiley.
  20. "David Barron" (personal web page at the School of Electronics and Computer Science, University of Southampton). Retrieved 17 June 2010.
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