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a tribute to John Gosden

He was educated at Monmouth College and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, where he graduated in Mathematics. In 1953 he joined the J.Lyons organisation as a trainee programmer. At that point its small LEO team was engaged on the final trials of the payroll programme for the Cadby Hall bakeries.

The LEO system of the time was equipped with only the most rudimentary systems software. The programmer had to do it all. By the time that Gosden left six years later he had sketched a full body of systems software for the latest LEO system, based on the rich experience he had gathered in himself implementing programs of all kinds and on his study of the most advanced work elsewhere.

A key part of Gosden's work was in working alongside John Pinkerton, LEO's Chief Engineer, in ensuring that LEO lll incorporated all the facilities required to meet business application needs.. Thus the system was able to time share with several programs running at the same time and was microprogrammed to enable users to devise new macro- instructions to implement frequently used sequences. Gosden also devised the high level language, CLEO, for the system.

On joining the Auerbach Corporation in the United States in1960 Gosden raised the Standard EDP Reports to new levels and then managed the construction of a multi-computer operating system for the US Navy. 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. 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.

Notwithstanding his crowded US career, John Gosden remained very close to his LEO roots. He was Associate Editor of 'LEO, the Incredible Story of the World's First Business Computer' in 1987 and contributed a chapter entitled 'Toward Systems Software.' In 2001, although already in failing health he crossed the Atlantic to contribute to the fiftieth anniversary celebrations of the first business computer application in London's Guildhall.